CONNECT. ACCELERATE. GROW: BREAKING BOUNDARIES — ELLEN HAGAN
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, | am delighted to be invited to say a few words as keynote Speaker for this year’s Young Entrepreneurs Forum
| would like to doff my hat to all of you who have chosen to be entrepreneurs. | am convinced this is a good path to take, though many of us may find it rather steep. | believe it still is the way to go for wealth and employment creation. Given the number of people who, out of necessity, have established small enterprises, there is little doubt that the drive, energy and creativity among our youth are all there. All that needs to be done is to harness them.
Of course, this is not to suggest that entrepreneurship is the magic wand to solve the country’s and indeed the world’s unemployment crisis. It is one solution that will require massive support from a variety of stakeholders as well as a commitment to a change in mindset, public perceptions, attitudes and culture. For its part, the government needs to create an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs. This includes ensuring that our education system is good and does not only prepare the youth to be job seekers but that it also promotes entrepreneurship very early. L’AINE through the L’AINE FOUNDTION has started entrepreneurship clubs in the lezekukukrauer municipality as our bid to encourage a shift in mindset in this regard so that young people can be exposed to entrepreneurship through the leaders and managers of businesses by mentoring them, providing them with networking opportunities, guiding them on business infrastructure and offering expertise in areas such as human resources management.
Mr Chairman, Kindly permit me to share a few nuggets | have found in my entrepreneurship “journey.
Entrepreneurship is not for everyone:*
You can equally succeed by working in an already established business and working your way to the top by showing leadership skills that delivers results. Such persons are referred
to as Intrapreneurs. E ns i Ga a. Sting Cy a agit
Having said that, once you do not mind the risk, hard work, and discipline, | will suggest you start by being.an apprentice, or studying at the feet of someone so you develop some skills, including making mistakes on some established businessman’s turf, rather than on yours.
Define your mission well and align it with your values:
It takes some intentional effort to do that. Mission defines where you are taking your business to. Values determine how you will get there. Spend time to design the two.
Build structures and systems: Set revenue, cost and profit targets for your business. Have a budget cycle. Review performance and take corrective actions on a weekly basis. Don’t meddle in company finances; pay yourself. Procure items from approved suppliers and drive costs down through longer term purchasing for some items and relationship building
Employ the people you need not those who are available: Employment is a business decision not a sentimental one. Do not employ anyone you cannot correct or discipline or anybody whose values contradict yours.
Develop new product/service lines: We started with recruitment and training in L’AINE. In our early years, we added new products to our service lines, which drove our growth and profitability. We take pride in our strength as a team and the common vision to transform every life and business we come across. | will let you into our secret: IT IS The sigmoid curve: In its simplest form, the sigmoid is a representation of time (on the horizontal axis) and activity (on the vertical axis). The wonder of this curve is that it really describes most phenomena, regardless of type.
- There’s an initial period where the context for a phenomenon develops.
- The phenomenon is then introduced to the world.
- The phenomenon experiences sharp-growth
- It hits a maturity phase where growth slows, and then stops.
The phenomenon then declines and peters out. On a practical level, we in L’AINE take a good, hard look at the status of the activities that sustain us. Notably, evaluate where our business lies on the curve. WE seek out and launch our next path to success while we are still basking in the glow of the present moment’s achievement; in other words, we jump unto a second sigmoid curve. This really is the only path to sustained achievement. Ultimately, having both the courage and the vision to take risks on new undertakings while we are in our prime is the only real way to sustain high levels of success.
Be involved in the management of the business: Most business owners go to bed too early once they see “little money”. As the driver of the company’s vision and strategy, don’t
delegate this responsibility. Coordinate and supervise the various functions of the business efficiently and effectively by employing the right people, aligning them with your mission and values, training and coaching and rewarding them for high performance: To be fair, after being i in the business of recruiting people for businesses for 25 years, the irony is not lost on me that getting the rightfit for any role is still what | find mést challenging About my businesses, and not funding as most people assume. Always remember that when you delegate, you supervise.
Plan for your business to go on long after you have retired by testing your succession plan while you are still in active business. You need to be intentional about this and allow your business to outgrow and outlive you.
Many businesses sadly don’t grow because we tend to want to control everything. When | started Legacy Girls’ College, it was driven home very early to my partner and | that 100 percent of nothing is nothing. Sometimes, you need to collaborate to hone in on levels of growth that on your own you may not be able to achieve. Having said that, you need to be very savvy and wise in the partnership and collaborative decisions you make as a business owner, because some partnerships tend not to be healthy and are short lived, leaving rancour and bitterness in its wake. u
Despite the challenges the entrepreneurship world may throw at you, brace yourself and enjoy the journey ahead. For me, running your own business is the ultimate; you might be tempted to give up at some point, just remember if others have done it, it is possible. I can’t count the number of times I have gone to bed with the repeat button locked in for a particular inspirational song to lull me to sleep.. and how often I have repeated Kofi Awoonor of blessed memory’s Songs of Sorrow… DZOBOZOLISA has treated me thus… it has led me
among the shafts of the forest… returning is not possible and going forward is a great difficulty……
I wish you all the very best.