Too many people are getting involved in entrepreneurship as a way of escape from their day job, according to Raphael Saul, co-founder and head of business for the virtual reality company Transcend Technologies.
He made the comments on Tuesday morning as he addressed the Business Over Breakfast seminar of the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT) at the Accra Beach Hotel, one of the events of this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week of activities.
“What I have found is many of them didn’t go into entrepreneurship because there is something that needed to be done, but there was something they needed to get away from.
“And the thing they wanted to get away from often time was work. I have seen people get into entrepreneurship saying that they were tired working for someone, the system and the man, and they wanted to go and do something on their own, sail their own ship, fight their own cause, but what they were really running from was work,” Saul said.
He warned potential businesspeople that becoming an entrepreneur would be “more work than you have ever done in your life”.
He also cautioned that while there was a peace of mind that came along with being able to leave work at a certain time, that was not the case with being the owner of a business, which he said would require a lot more time and effort.
Saul said: “As an entrepreneur, your work starts at 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. or 10:30 p.m. bills have to get paid, staff have to get paid, you are out of products and you have to order more, how are you going to market your business?
“Your accounts need to be put in order. It is a crazy world.”
He said existing and potential entrepreneurs should ensure they were “watering” themselves in order to grow as they grow their operation.
Saul also complained that too often those getting into entrepreneurship said they did so because they were compelled to follow their passion, but then that passion would change.
The motivational speaker also cautioned against getting into business and wanting to charge premium for products and services, explaining that it was best to get a foothold in the market instead of seeking to get rich quick, and a way to do so was to offer some services for free.
He said: “You not even give yourself the opportunity to become an expert in your space, but you want to charge expert prices though.
“You don’t even have a name in the market or a year of experience under your belt but you want to charge the same thing that people built a name in the space are charging. You have not earned the right.
“It is great to be interested in a space, but my question is, have you developed the level of expertise in this space, is there a commitment to being so good in this space that you can’t be ignored?”
Saul pointed out that there were many entrepreneurs who complained that only certain people were getting work.
But he said as entrepreneurs they should be willing to “earn” the business and “pay your dues as small individuals in our spaces”.
“By that I mean, in the interest of building your brand and credibility and your visibility in your space, there will be sometimes you have to nod your head and give your service for free,” Saul said.
“I know you have bills to pay, mortgage and children, but what I am saying is that before you can command that big check that you want, you have to command some respect in your industry and the only way for you to do that is to sow your seeds.”
Stating that he was aware his position was not a popular one, Saul, a trained lawyer said there were two main things needed to help grow a business – visibility and credibility – which he said would then lead to profitability.
He said: “Many of our businesses are lost in obscurity. There is so much noise in the market.
“You need to be pushing consistently enough so your head gets up above the noise that people can see there is somebody there.”
Encouraging the entrepreneurs to use all avenues available to them in order to grow their business, Saul said it was also important to continuously exceed customers’ expectations.
He declared: “I believe we live in a ‘thank you economy’, so we can’t ignore the importance of making your customers feel appreciated.
“You can’t run the risk of a customer leave your business feeling that you were entitled to their money.”