What is entrepreneurship in the European Commission´s perspective? Entrepreneurship is an individual’s ability to turn ideas into action. It includes creativity, innovation, risk taking, ability to plan and manage projects in order to achieve objectives.
There is no predefined profile that indicates who has or does not have the characteristics necessary to be an entrepreneur. However, it can be seen that a large percentage of successful entrepreneurs combine a set of characteristics and competencies, which stand out:
Entrepreneurship is extremely demanding and involves a considerable amount of risk, so the decision to undertake must be taken carefully. A very advisable exercise is to assess the entrepreneurial capacity, analyzing with realism and frontality a wide range of issues, fundamental for an entrepreneur, which are detailed below:
Know how to do:
School, academic or professional training of the promoter relevant to the idea presented.
Knowledge in the technical field relevant to the idea presented.
Professional Experience: Professional experience relevant to the idea presented.
Business Experience: Business experience relevant to the implementation of the idea presented.
Knowledge of the Sector: Level of knowledge of the sector and its surroundings, in the areas of the idea presented.
Maturity: Level of responsibility and self-control manifested.
Image, Speech and Communicability: Adequacy of the image for the context of the evaluation situation; posture, formality/ informality in the established contact. Type of vocabulary used; the structure of contents; fluency; the objectivity of contents. Degree of clarity in the explanation of ideas and thinking; accessibility of the vocabulary used
Creative Potential: Ability to generate ideas that can be valued.
Innovative Attitude: Ability to use the creative potential in the implementation of ideas that can be valued.
Spirit of Initiative: Capacity to structure action plans, internal and external, to implement actions.
Personal Affirmation: Ability to convey a positive personal image to captivate, interest and persuade the interlocutors.
Definition and Clarity of Objectives: Ability to define clearly and appropriately the intended objectives.
Ability to Quantify Risks: Ability to quantify in a clear, conscious and appropriate manner to the reality, according to the internal characteristics and the environment, the risks associated with the business development of the idea presented.
Ability to Risk: Ability to risk in a clear, conscious and appropriate way to reality, according to the internal characteristics and surroundings.
Self-analysis: Ability to determine the strengths and weaknesses inherent to one’s own and the idea presented.
Motivational Factors: Focus on the Subject. Ability to concentrate and direct thought to explain the idea presented.
Sense of Opportunity: Ability to identify real and appropriate business opportunities.
Availability/Commitment/Motivation/Determination: Level of availability and commitment, internal and external, expressed for the implementation of the idea presented. Level of motivation and mobilization of resources, internal and external, demonstrated for the implementation of the idea presented. Level of determination, internal and external, expressed in the implementation of the idea presented.
Personal Energy: Level of exteriorization and mobilization of internal energy to implement the idea presented.
Family Position: Level of support and family enthusiasm for the project.
10 steps to success in self-employment
STEP 1 – HAVE A STRONG IDEA
The first step to undertake is undoubtedly to have good, innovative, differentiated ideas that can achieve strong market acceptance.
For to be an entrepreneur it is necessary to have a strong Business Idea, which responds to an identified, and not yet sufficiently exploited, OPPORTUNITY, and know how to take advantage in an INNOVATIVE way.
The sources of ideas can be divided into three main groups:
Of course, it is necessary to have the ability to identify opportunities. In addition to being sensitive, you need to gather information and increase your knowledge.
However, a good idea is not synonymous of success. To minimize the risks of failure it is necessary to let the idea mature and assess its risks and potential, in particular by understanding market trends
STEP 2 – STUDY THE WHOLE ENVIRONMENT
The maturation process must include an in-depth study of the entire internal and external environment, starting with an analysis of the entrepreneur profile, since being an entrepreneur actually requires a set of characteristics and skills that not everyone has, and therefore the potential gaps should be minimized before moving forward with the business.
One must have the know-how, be creative, be convincing, be resilient and self-confident to implement an idea and ensure acceptance of the product/ service, as well as be dynamic and attentive to business opportunities in order to adapt services to market and economic fluctuations.
The way you deal with risk is another relevant factor. As an entrepreneur, it is essential that you have the willingness to take some risks but in a measured way. To risk is to accept challenges.
Leadership is another essential feature. Being able to structure the business, organize the operation of the company, manage the human and material resources is fundamental to understand how value can be added in the company.
In the external environment, the market and trends that are expected to influence the business, as well as the current legislation, must be analyzed.
It is necessary to have a thorough knowledge of both the profile of potential customers, the type of product/ service they are looking for and the size of the market, as well as the suppliers and the competition, their strengths and weaknesses, the prices charged and the usual margins.
This whole study is time- and, sometimes, resource-intensive, as some of the data to be obtained, may represent some costs. This study should make use of the immense amount of information available online, portals with statistical information, business and sector associations, legislation and portals of official entities.
STEP 3 – DEFINE THE BUSINESS MODEL FOCUSING ESPECIALLY ON PRESENTING A GOOD VALUE PROPOSITION
Defining the Business Model is essential to be able to move from an idea to business, or rather, transform the idea into a business.
It is important to realize that an idea alone has no value. It is its implementation and how it will take place that may or may not turn the idea into something valuable.
When creating a business model, the first questions to be answered are ”who the customer is” and ”what the customer values”.
Knowing these answers, you will be able to define a value proposition for your customers, that is, to define how your offer will represent something that your customer values. Then you’ll be able to tell me how you’ll get money in this business.
Then, it will be necessary to define how you will create, maintain and deepen the relationship with your customers and also which channels you will use to reach them.
Having all these issues defined you will be in a position to advance in the business model to the operationalization part, that is, to carry out the business to which you propose what are the key activities, what are the key resources you will have to hold, what will be the key partnerships to implement and what are the costs associated with these activities.
STEP 4 – PREPARE THE BUSINESS PLAN
There is an enormous temptation in many entrepreneurs to move from the IDEA phase to the BUSINESS PLAN phase without going through the study of the environment and without defining the business model. This temptation is a mistake because a Business Plan is a very important tool which’s usefulness depends on the quality of the information it contains.
A business plan should include detailed information on all critical points of the business, from the explanation of the idea and its potential to the profile of partners and managers, market analysis, description and justification of the strategy, operation and investments required for its operation, projection and justification of the forecast results and treasury maps, also mentioning issues related to management control to be implemented and exit strategy in case of failure.
A Business Plan is fundamental in defining objectives and strategies to achieve them and is a “living” tool because one must be aware that many things can change over time or happen differently from what has been planned, so the Business Plan should be regularly reviewed presenting new strategies and innovative solutions for the new challenges that arise.
STEP 5 – ESTABLISH PARTNERSHIPS
Companies must dedicate themselves to what they do best, with greater efficiency and productivity, delivering to partners all those activities that they can, cheaper and more efficiently than the company itself.
Among the key activities for your business, which you defined in the Business Model, you must define those you will do, based on internal resources and those in which you will use partners. It should then establish partnerships with reference partners and prevent, where possible in a contractual way, how partnerships will work, in particular taking into account issues such as confidentiality (where this is relevant), exclusivity (where this makes sense), price maintenance guarantee, quality control, sharing of responsibilities in the event of failures. The company should also study alternatives if it is necessary to change partners.
STEP 6 – CREATE A GOOD TEAM
Sometimes some want to undertake on their own even if they recognize their limitations. For example, anyone who wants to go it alone and says he doesn’t like making commercial presentations. Or anyone who knows a lot about a particular métier but knows nothing about management. These entrepreneurs should have a good commercial or manager on their team, or they will be doomed to failure.
The creation of a diverse work team, with people who have knowledge in different areas that are complementary to those of the entrepreneur, can be decisive in ensuring the management of the various areas of the company and its success.
When setting up the team, it is important to pay attention to certain issues, namely trust in the professional relationships established, the definition of positions and functions according to the aptitudes of each member, and the establishment and transmit to the team the objectives to be achieved at each moment.
STEP 7 – GET ADEQUATE FUNDING
The question of financing is often decisive when starting a new business. It must, therefore, be treated with special care.
It is not uncommon for the new entrepreneur to be very concerned with guaranteeing resources to make the initial investment and to be satisfied when he reaches these resources, forgetting the financing of the operational part, especially the working capital necessary to lead the company to overcome the cash deficits of the activity, which are natural in the first months.
Two other usual mistakes of new entrepreneurs concerning financing are, on the one hand, the rush to obtain financing, not studying which options are best suited to their case, and on the other hand, the idea that there are entities or incentive systems where it is just to arrive, to ask for 100% of the money you need without even putting in own capital and that is already there.
The issue of financing is a crucial one, thus the entrepreneur should seek to finance himself adequately by studying and defining the financing profile to adopt, the solution that best suits his case, the amount that will be necessary, the costs of financing and the time and form of debt repayment.
Sources of Financing are divided into 3 types:
The solution for each case can come from only one source or be a combination of the various sources.
STEP 8 – COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY
Communication is one of the most important issues to take care of when starting a new business.
It is evident that no one buys what they don’t know and what they don’t disclose doesn’t exist. Even in cases like street shops, the time when it was possible to open a commercial space and stand behind the counter waiting for customers to come in and buy has passed.
Nowadays, competition is not only fierce but also global, all issues related to communication and promotion are fundamental, so having a communication strategy and resources to put it into practice are issues that any entrepreneur should have as a priority.
Of course, doing very comprehensive advertising campaigns and using means of high market penetration is something that costs a lot of money and is only within reach of large companies. However, there is a wide range of tools and means of communication, some of them low-cost, that can and should be put into practice, not only at the opening of the activity but during its development. Communication is not something that can be exhausted in the opening month, so there must always be a set of defined actions and a budget allocated to go advertising.
Many new entrepreneurs have the illusion that it is enough to have an online page or a social network or that it is enough to open the door and wait for the business to flow. This illusion will hardly be confirmed by what communicating effectively is one of the key activities that an entrepreneur cannot neglect.
STEP 9 – DEFINE OBJECTIVES AND MAKE MANAGEMENT CONTROL
A new entrepreneur must know by heart the goals he or she must achieve to achieve the sustainability of his or her business and must control the activity regularly in order to know whether or not he or she is meeting the defined goals.
To perform management, control the entrepreneur must define what Anglo-Saxons call the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) or the most important performance indicators that should be controlled. We are talking about sales, gross margin, costs and others which, case by case, each entrepreneur must define, for example, the number of commercial visits to be made, the percentage of approved budgets, the number of visitors to the online store, etc.
KPI’s are quantifiable measures to understand whether the objectives are being met. Their definition and control are very important because it is through them that one understands the need to take new attitudes to achieve the expected results.
Systematic management control allows you to measure and act on your business, avoiding deviations and allowing preventive measures to be taken before major ills happen.
STEP 10 – REGULARLY RETHINK AND READJUST THE STRATEGY
Steps 1 to 8 of this one bring advice especially for the preparation phase and the beginning of the implementation of the projects. However, the great adventure begins with the beginning of activity and one thing is certain: no matter how good the preparation has been (and the same is fundamental) there will always be something that does not go according to plan. Therefore it is so important to have the objectives clearly defined and to carry out the management control referred to in the previous paragraph. And when the business is not going as planned (or because it is below expectations, or because it is growing too fast, or because there have been changes in the market, or for some other reason and they may be numerous) it is necessary to rethink and readjust the strategy by defining new actions or they will have new objectives that must be controlled again. This is a fundamental ongoing cycle because the ability to decide and change strategies on time is essential to the success of a business project.
In addition to facing the general challenges to business startup that all entrepreneurs face, entrepreneurs with disabilities are likely to face specific barriers to entering and sustaining entrepreneurship activities.
Some of these barriers, arguably, are very deep-rooted social-structural constraints that impose severe limits on life chances for certain groups of disabled people. These barriers include:
First, business advisers are often reluctant to recommend self-employment as a career option for disabled people and sometimes actively attempt to dissuade them. Such views might be a consequence of advisers’ inadequate or stereotypical understandings of the activity restrictions arising from specific conditions and/or misperceptions of support recipients’ capabilities as well as a genuine regard for the risks disabled people face in starting and running businesses.
Second, and crucially, training is not always tailored to individual needs and therefore of limited value to particular programme recipients. For some, support might need to be provided over an extended period of time for recipients with recurring conditions or particular stresses. There is a perception among some support recipients that funders face pressures to move quickly onto the next case rather than provide longer-term support to those assisted (a ‘tick-box culture’).
Third, support services may not be available in particular formats (e.g. Braille), which makes the support service inaccessible for certain segments of the population of people with disabilities. This likely will also impact the awareness level of available supports.
Fourth, premises where support is provided may not be accessible for individuals with conditions and impairments that impact their mobility. Moreover, this barrier can be increased by challenges related to transport to and from support centres for those with mobility challenges.
Fifth, support programmes may use language that is offputting to people with disabilities. For example, entrepreneurs who experience disability often have lower growth aspirations and may not identify with terms such as ‘entrepreneur’ because they do not see themselves as exploiting an opportunity or being innovative.
Sixth, the diversity of impairment and disability means that some disabled entrepreneurs might not perceive themselves as ‘disabled’ and prefer to be supported under mainstream, rather than disability-specific, services.
Source: Entrepreneurship for people with disabilities, https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/3f39231b-1aa1-43fb-b74e-fccb2d1b9c5e/language-en
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