The essentials of Strategy in Business, Employees and the Workplace.
Business is not easy. There are many quotes I have read and the most resonant stated that you leave a 40 hour job for an 80 hour one. Having embarked on this journey in the beginning of 2014, I learned that whatever is planned can go out the window within a week. I would have never thought an emerging nation like Botswana would have similar circumstances to the likes of Malaysia or even the United States of America. Also, one would assume a start-up in the services sector would not have similar performance metrics as that of the Tech field. I would have thought with many initiatives such as the KickStart Programme, the Youth Development Fund and other state initiatives, this experience would make it easy for one to start a business. Unfortunately no one tells you about the rejection you face on a daily basis, never mind your own deliberations or the dismissals of older generations on your unconventional path of leaving formal employment. When the only response you get is Tirelo Sechaba, you realise that at times, the state does not have the capacity or that you might be too literate/employment material for a candidate to qualify for certain incubator programmes. For instance, a piggery requires a lot of investment, lengthy turnaround time and actual expertise, but it has been a main strategic point for multiple SME initiatives. This is questionable as even other regional states put more emphasis on food security (crop farming) because of the simplicity and often common knowledge surrounding maize/sorghum farming as a result of the nation having that culture. Now when in the context of a small population, undesirable geographic landscape for most kinds of farming – why is piggery seen as a viable economic driving business? How would it contribute significantly to the GDP without the adequate infrastructure? Is it a growth point that is emergent in the market or that is ideal for policy makers as it looks good on paper? This is the importance of understanding Business as a fundamental principle and not a replacement to formal employment. It as investment for future generations, a field of opportunities that have been tried and tested, as is the case with ICT products, Research think tanks, Creative hubs… Innovation is driven by previous successes (or even failures) to address the need of the customer – to to make money.
What would bring most to thinking about starting a business? Other business ventures of course. The likes of Percy Raditladi (Botswana), Mark Shuttleworth (South Africa) and Ashish Thakkar (Uganda) are a few who have embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship and become successes in their home countries. I purposely chose these as they model those in industrialised nations, minimal political involvement and sheer boldness to conquer their dreams. The ability to take note of opportunity and be bold enough to tackle it is rare in the context of Africa, or rather not well documented. Even with established businesses, you find the innovation that started the company is swapped with caution and controls. This result of this swap is noted with Nokia’s decline from market domination with the rise of the smartphone, or Kodak’s fall with the rise of the digital age. I am glad to learn that entrepreneurship is to be included in primary school curriculum, maybe this could also signal that the nation is no longer seen as just potential workforce (as noted in Vision 2016), but also as a brewing ground for future global leaders.
I have observed that innovation is driven by belief, that even when you are not certain of where the market is heading or the direction in which your business is going, belief is the one element that keeps you going. Thomas Edison would have not gone beyond the 10000th failure before discovering one of the greatest inventions, the light bulb. Whichever way you look at it, in the context of starting a business or being an employee, belief in yourself as a future leader can guarantee sustainability through your actions, a better offer for employment, actual career planning with your leader and actual support for that plan.