Is the entrepreneurship dream oversold, I question myself. With colleges introducing degrees in entrepreneurship, government encouraging young entrepreneurship as an answer to unemployment and economic woes, and every other young person sold on the idea of becoming a CEO or his own boss, I really wonder if you can engineer success without the proper understanding of what true entrepreneurship entails.
Every young start up believes that they have an idea that will scale. Every young entrepreneur believes that their idea is a real value creating business. Yet so many of them fail. Almost 80% within the first two years fold up. Frustrated you first blame the system, the environment, the policy and then seek validation that maybe the market was too premature for your idea. And therein begins a vicious cycle of chasing success without real insight into what reaches you there.
I love the optimism. I really do. I also applaud the confidence. But I would also like young people to understand that real entrepreneurs are driven by long term value creation and that there are no quick fixes in the business world. It’s as much a science as it is a deep running passion that requires you to rise after every fall, to take risks, to wear your heart on your sleeve, to think on your feet and to dream but with your feet planted firmly on the soil. Entrepreneurship also means people skills first and foremost. It’s also a journey of lifelong learning, inspired creativity, ability to adapt, risk taking and failures, and the obsession to succeed… do we all have it, can it be learned, I am not quite certain.
The current glorification of entrepreneurship is unhealthy and unreal. It does not prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs for the realities of their undertaking. It is almost comparable to a young student acquiring a degree that he does not know what he’ll do with but knows that he must have one to be considered anybody in this world.
I believe in entrepreneurship and have enormous respect for the people who create and contribute but is this the only route, I don’t think so. I think you can be entrepreneurial even when you are working for someone and in fact when you do that, you may be more true to your real talents and create better value for the work world.
Rather than everyone jumping in hoping to have a business idea that will catch the light and make you millions, it may be better to allow young people to understand and value what makes them who they really are and to hone their strengths and use it to pursue endeavours that are closer to their hearts.
This may well mean that the rest of us shift focus on how we perceive success and actually put into practice the true meaning of dignity of labour.