Entrepreneur and why you dont need to hop onto the band wagon
Entrepreneurship and economic development go hand in hand, wherein the process of entrepreneurship plays a key role as a major factor in the nation’s economic development. For a developing nation it serves as a building block of the economy bringing in new ideas and innovations which play an integral role in uplifting the community. Whether it’s in terms of creating employment, new goods and services for the market, or improving the living standard of people entrepreneurship plays an important role. We, as a nation, have been quick to realize this importance and the number of entrepreneurial ventures has been steadily on the rise.
In fact, entrepreneurship has enjoyed a considerable amount of limelight. The number of new restaurants, creative apps, online clothing stores and the likes has seen a significant growth over the last few years; and they’ve received their due pats on the back for their efforts. We’re talking magazine features, interviews in dailies, and the works. The glitz and glamour has turned the role into a sought after lifestyle which sadly isn’t what entrepreneurship is about, at least not when you start out.
There is more to entrepreneurship than tailored suits, designer shades, and party appearances. And chances are, we are focusing our entrepreneurial energies into the wrong areas. Maybe we don’t need more new restaurants, apps or online stores. To discuss the discrepancies regarding the role of entrepreneurship in society and how it has been misconstrued in many senses we talked with someone who we think has a worthwhile opinion, Mr. Sohan Babu Khatri.
Mr. Sohan Babu Khatri is the CEO of Three H Management and is a well-known management consultant. He has made significant contribution to the entrepreneurial development of youths in various sectors in the role of a mentor, coach, trainer, and evaluator, consultant through entrepreneurial bootcamps, start-up accelerator programs, and development/social organizations.
He has been a visiting faculty in various renowned colleges of Nepal and continues to be adjunct faculty of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Strategic Management, Strategic Marketing, Rural Marketing and Agribusiness, Investment Decisions, and related subjects in some of them.
There is more to entrepreneurship than tailored suits, designer shades, and party appearances. And chances are, we are focusing our entrepreneurial energies into the wrong areas
TNM: Is Nepal ready for entrepreneurship?
SBK: Any country at any point of time is always ready for entrepreneurship, and we as a nation are as ready as we will ever be. People complain about how things in our country don’t go the way it should; regulations and policies are not conducive, we lack basic utilities and infrastructure, we have a lot of political disturbances, and we lack proper governance. But difficulties and obstacles are where entrepreneurship flourishes.
A startup is a human institution which thrives in uncertainty and that is what you get with our economy. Smooth and easy beginnings have never happened for any economy, ever. It is a question of what comes first. Do micro economic factors of an economy magically work together to achieve economic development where entrepreneurship fosters? Or does entrepreneurship persevere through the hindrances to thrive in a perilous economy like a lotus in a muddy pond?
TNM: How do you predict things in a country like ours where things are so uncertain?
SBK: There has not been any country in the world which is completely predictable. Your best bet is to make a prediction and expect the worst. Create your business’s system and agility in such a way that it responds to the crisis and uncertainty. Make your business so resilient that it is ready for anything. That’s the spirit that entrepreneurs and start-ups should have and I feel that is what is lacking the most.
TNM: Despite all the odds it might be a good environment for start-ups?
SBK: There has not been a better time for entrepreneurship. The positive enthusiasm is extremely encouraging and necessary to tackle what Nepal’s economy has to throw at you.
Also, entrepreneurship has never been as readily accepted by society as it is now. The generation before this wanted their children to secure a job that paid the bills. Today, a 20 year old is already thinking of starting something new, on their own, and with the support of their family. I think that is a great thing.
TNM: So you are behind the concept of entrepreneurship?
SBK: Yes, absolutely. But there are some things that people are not doing right which is worrying. It seems that everyone wants to be an entrepreneur but possibly for the wrong reasons. Any entrepreneur who has a potential for sustainable success is spurred by internal reasons. Magazines and dailies print stories of entrepreneurs with glorified stories of how great it is to be your own boss with a nifty photograph to go with it; if that is what a prospective entrepreneur aims to achieve they are barking up the wrong tree. Achieving that as a result of what you did is an added bonus, but that is not what entrepreneurship is about.
As an entrepreneur you are more likely to find yourself buried under a pile of paper work, with a coffee mug filled with cigarette butts, constantly working on your endeavors with a burning passion that drives you every day. Being your own boss comes with more responsibilities than people seem to understand. The biggest responsibilities of an entrepreneur are firstly towards the market and the consumers then at the inbound side it is also towards your start up team. The people you employ will be relying on you and your business to provide their salary at the end of the month. You also have the responsibility of diligently providing the service/good to the market that you set out to provide.
As an entrepreneur you are more likely to find yourself buried under a pile of paper work, with a coffee mug filled with cigarette butts, constantly working on your endeavors with a burning passion that drives you every day.
Many people fail to visualize the responsibilities because they are too preoccupied with the splendid truism of being their own boss. Now the fallacy here is, people don’t want to be controlled but they want to control others. This does not work. You should not be the boss of your own organization to achieve a bit of media exposure and appreciation from the people around you. That is just a bubble waiting to burst.
On the flipside if an entrepreneur fails at his twenties or thirties, the society and the nation has to pay a huge cost and that is the attrition that he has to pay .If one single youth of this country gets disappointed that would mean something that will encourage brain drain in a much more intense form than before.
TNM: So where exactly are prospective entrepreneurs going wrong?
SBK: Making money isn’t the primary goal for entrepreneurs, it shouldn’t be. Every venture should aim to solve a problem. Focus on the problem that and solution that you are trying to come up with. Live it, breathe it, give yourself to it, and if you make some money out of it that is a bonus.
You also need to perfect the execution in what you do. A bad experience will set a bad example for your customers and it is very difficult to recuperate from such setbacks. I had a deal with an online store that did not go as well as it could have. Because I had a negative experience with their services, they lost a customer because I will not rely on their services again. One customer lost is customer lost for a lifetime.
TNM: What would you suggest people do to succeed as an entrepreneur?
SBK: I would suggest every potential entrepreneur to be prepared on the service side of things, to have some kind of professional experience first, to research and study make yourself ready for the business and before going ahead with it. The entrepreneurial trend is surrounded by an illusion of grandiose and people are jumping on board without a second thought.
With whatever you set out to do, start small; test it with the consumers, gauge their responses learn and make it better. Create a version two with the consumer’s feedback. Business is strategized and planned in the market not inside a room. Go out there and do it.
First ask yourself why you want to do what you want to do. I see a lot of people boggled up when they are allowed to think this way. 20 years down the line your friends will be in the corporate world and have gadgets and cars and what not but you will still be growing you will still be struggling will you be okay with that? And if you decide on starting a family will your entrepreneurial venture suffice as an income source? Now that looks scary.
If you cannot enjoy the stink of your sweat and the crick in your back at the end of a hard day at work, entrepreneurship isn’t for you.
TNM: Which sector is best suited for entreprenurship in Nepal and who is it suited for?
SBK: Any one is suitable for any kind of problem solving or filling in the gap of the market, but it is also important to apply yourself to the right sector. The larger portion of our GDP is a result of agriculture. Agriculture is not industrialized and that is where the opportunities lie. I would love to see youngsters getting into any kind of productive sector rather than trade; and agriculture is a lucrative sector with loads of potential.
Tourism is another sector where we as a nation are naturally gifted. Just do the packaging and right marketing and half the work is done. There is a lot of service gap and lack of professionalism in the sector.
And because we strive in a fast developing world, technology is also an important sector. Link that with the basics like agriculture and tourism. Get that right and we could possibly be the best cotton textile producers or the best Dhaka producers.