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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Entrepreneurship


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LOUISE FAIRSAVE: Entrepreneurship

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Becoming an entrepreneur is being touted as an alternate way to earn a living in these days of high unemployment. Today, we consider the trait and characteristics of entrepreneurs.

Typically, in the beginning, the entrepreneur is the chief cook and bottlewasher in his business. He owns it and dislikes having to depend on anyone else for its success. He has an independent mindset and is motivated by the need to control his circumstances.

Some entrepreneurs spend many years in training, attaining a high level of knowledge or skill. They want to do exceptionally well. Examples of such entrepreneurs are doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, real estate agents, small retailers, cleaners, restaurateurs, consultants, other direct commission agents, mechanics, plumbers, carpenters, painters, electricians, hairdressers and artists. They work as entrepreneurs when they are their own bosses.

When entrepreneurs invest in commercial undertakings, they normally work the hardest. The risks are also high and the failure rate of such new small businesses in their first three years is estimated at 70 per cent.

With business failure, the investor often has to find a steady job in order to repay the build-up of significant debt. The paradox is that even if the small business is successful, the entrepreneur will usually find himself working even harder.

The truly successful entrepreneur has to work harder and for a longer time, often for a lifetime. You will hear them saying: “My rate is $150. Per hour.” “My normal commission is eight per cent of gross sales.” “I can’t seem to find the right people who can work and do the job right.” “Nobody does it better.” “I did it my way.”

Money is not as important to them as independence and freedom to do things their way and be respected for good work. Their clients do not expect them to fail; clients count on their perfection to get the job done and leave them alone to do it. They are the professionals who do not want or need supervision. In fact, if you breathe over their shoulders too much as they work, they will walk off the job.

Also, the entrepreneur is the type that when he works, he expects to get paid. Nor do they like to be under the control of someone who is not willing to work as hard as they do. They believe that poor work deserves poor pay, understanding that this applies to their work as well. They just have no intention of producing shoddy work.

The entrepreneur finds it hard to rely on staff to do a good job. When they do find a good staff member, that person turns out to be much like them. That is, the staff member often ends up leaving the business to set up their own business to compete with their former employer.

Given that an entrepreneur does not readily involve others deeply in the business, the business is more prone to setbacks due to the owner’s ill health, injury or death. Also, because he devotes lots of his time to work, there is little time left for family and friends.

Also, burnout is likely. One way to lessen this risk is for the entrepreneur to consider selling his business when it is at its peak and then starting another similar or different business.

Doing a job “perfectly” and being recognised for it can be a reward in itself. Yet, the pressing goal is to continually improve one’s financial position and that will likely involve continuing high performance.   

Entrepreneurship is a commitment. Are you up to the task?

• Louise Fairsave is a personal financial management adviser, providing practical advice on money and estate matters. Her advice is general in nature; readers should seek advice about their specific circumstances. This column is sponsored by the Barbados Workers’ Union Co-op Credit Union Ltd.

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