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Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path

The misconceptions of being an entrepreneur

When Kipp sat down with Shadi Banna, an all-round entrepreneurship enthusiast, he said that recession is a time when people have less to lose and so are more tempted to take matters into their own hands.

February 10, 2013 4:15 by



It isn’t always the easiest of tasks to find a silver lining in desperate situations. For one, you need to be willing to both dig deep while simultaneously believe it to be there. The general notion is that the silver lining of a downtrodden economy is the birth of entrepreneurs. When Kipp sat down with Shadi Banna, founder of Potential.com and an all-round entrepreneurship enthusiast, he said that recession is a time when people have less to lose (with job cuts and reduced salary packages) and so are more tempted to take matters into their own hands.

Why does he love entrepreneurs so much? They offer solutions to a lot of the world’s problems. Oh, and they’re usually an extremely energetic folk and who wouldn’t want to be exposed to that kind of energy?

“A lot of international companies like GE, IBM and Apple started in recession,” he says firmly.

In a phase of economic boom, where corporate jobs are handed out like crackers, there are plenty of reasons to talk yourself out of entrepreneurship. ‘I’d be giving up the education fund, my big annual bonus and my top-of-the-line medical insurance policy’, you’d think to yourself. The point is there are a lot of jobs – and luckily for you – a shortage of talent.

But what happens when the recession hits, and suddenly you’re beginning to feel insecure about your professional contribution? You no longer have that job security you’ve begun to find so cozy. In fact, you may have been made redundant and are now insecure about your own ability to either find new work or perform well enough to be considered. Your experience and qualifications don’t impress you anymore and you begin to question whether you’d survive in this market. Well, Banna isn’t alone in supporting the concept of start-ups but there are definitely some harmful misconceptions that need to be eradicated before anyone attempts to venture out on their own.

“Don’t think you’ll be earning more money as an entrepreneur. In fact, from a financial perspective you’d actually be better off keeping your corporate salary package, at least for a while,” he says.

Many entrepreneurs tend to oversimplify their business models; making things appear easier than they are or will be. Particularly in this part of the world, there is an expectation for quick financial results. A lot of budding entrepreneurs realise they are taking a brave step by venturing out on their own but many of them tend to need a helping hand – particularly in the early stages of their business. Approximately 80 percent of businesses fail within the first three years.

“We’re trying to offer tools and resources to just help them navigate through his treacherous world of entrepreneurship. It’s a very different one from the corporate world. It can be a very lonely path because there’s no one necessarily there to guide you,” he adds.

On a positive note, Banna says that existing notions about the lack of funding in this region are false. The amount invested compared to the potential amount is low, he admits, but funding is available if needed. More importantly, it’s a matter of teaching entrepreneurs how to polish their own ideas in a way that can be attractive to investors and not just admirers.

Ultimately, anyone getting into this space shouldn’t be looking at a two-year horizon, for a quick fix. “The nature of this business is that you’re going to have a lot of failures. I hope that this entrepreneurship momentum we’re seeing continues and if it does, we’ll start to see results. We’re still at the early stages and I can only hope that investors and entrepreneurs won’t lose heart.”



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