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March 1, 2013 | Personal

Entrepreneurs: Are They Born or Made?

Are entrepreneurs born or made?
Top entrepreneurs in Ghana like Prince Kofi Amoaben (UT Bank), Nana Egyire (Blue Jeans), Ibrahim Mahamah (Engineers and Planners), were they born or made? What about Bill Gates, Carlos Slim, Donald Trump?

The fact is that some of these guys were born into incubators of entrepreneurship while others had to learn to become entrepreneurs. For those born entrepreneurs, if you interviewed them, they would tell you they didn't know where they got the skills. They just followed their instincts and went for it. But for those who learned through through books, seminars, mentoring etc, they would tell you, you've got to do A B or C. So the debate continues. However, the purpose of this article is not to stoke the debate fire but to enumerate the possible ways people become entrepreneurs so that the youth of Ghana and the world can also follow.

Education/Experience
If you do not get the skills from education, you are left with experience. In one entrepreneur's case, he grew up in entrepreneurial families. his parents either had a provision store, selling skills or manufacturing skills. Some of you out there (ladies) can sew nice dresses because your mother is a seamstress. Some of you guys can fix cars because your father is a mechanic. Unfortunately many Ghanaian graduates will not go back and inject some managerial skills into their fathers mechanic business. They will rather prefer office work.

On the other hand, some entrepreneurs didn't have the benefit of being born into families of entrepreneurs. They had to learn, attend seminars, under-study other entrepreneurs etc. A number of entrepreneurship short courses are available in Ghana. You can check the University of Ghana Business School or GIMPA.

Confidence
Most entrepreneurs did not spend a lot of time thinking or planning businesses, instead they assessed the risks and did it anyway. Yes, they are risk takers. Every entrepreneur, whether born or made is a risk taker. They believed even in the face of ridicule. Check the story of Koko King, Ghana's no.1 breakfast provider who's now worth over 60 million dollars. Don't forget this saying: many potentially successful people never realized their dreams because they couldn't withstand being laughed at at the initial stages.

Timing
Timing is everything in business. Space-to-space (phone call vendor's shop) was very popular some 10 years ago in Ghana. Those who pioneered that business really gained a lot. But soon it become less profitable. Today, it is the service sector that driven by IT which is gaining much attention in Ghana. As Ghana's economy expands, the service sector is expected to become the central point of money making and entrepreneurship. Most of the new millionaires in Ghana will surely be service providers. So I'm appealing to the youth, learn some new skills that will help you provide service. Demand was strong for products and services!

Risks
Tolerance for risk is a key element for entrepreneurship! Opportunities occur often if you are aware of them. Your tolerance for risk determines what opportunities you are willing to take. Personality traits such as determination, perseverance, and passion usually get you through the difficulties. Are these learned or natural skills? Can you learn to be a risk taker? I think success encourages risk taking. The more success you have taking risks the more you are willing to take risks. Ex Presidents Kuffour and Mills attempted the presidency three time before succeeding. Abraham Lincoln was defeated over 10 times before finally becoming the president of the US.

Discipline/Determination
Many people are concerned about failing which in many cases stops you from trying. Failure is not an option for many entrepreneurs! Before social media, you had old fashioned networking through friends and relatives. But those networks do not necessarily make entrepreneurs become successful. Work ethics or soft skills trump your fears! Entrepreneurs literally worked seven (7) days a week to make their businesses successful.

The originator of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) contacted over 1000 investors to support his recipe for making delicious fried chicken and he only succeeded after contacting over 1000 prospective investors. Today, KFC has been resold over 5 times to different owners and it's worth millions of dollars. The guy never gave up. You can check his story in Google.

Passion
Passion is an overused word when it comes to entrepreneurship. Do you really need to love your work to put in the extra hours? I think you must enjoy what you are doing in order to be good at it. You have to be willing to do whatever is necessary to make your business successful. Success will ignite passion and who doesn't like success? Entrepreneurs love what they do. There is a saying that without passion, no one can become entrepreneur.

My Final Thoughts
As Ghana's economy expands, the service sector is expected to become the central point of money making and entrepreneurship. The youth must therefore take the necessary steps to take advantage of these opportunity. Let's begin to record millionaires at age 20, 25 etc. Let's acquire some soft skills, and let successive governments continue to support the service sector with correct legislation and investment. Then Ghana will become the dream that visionaries like Nkrumah envisioned.

Author: Richard Dogbe
Richard Dogbe is the General Manager of JobhouseGhana.Com, a leading website for latest Jobs in Ghana. He's a prolific writer, a professional marketer who holds MBA from University of Ghana, Legon and a certificate from ICM-UK.

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