Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The source of our entrepreneurial under-performance

As many of you, I was surprised to find out that According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), South Africa is well behind most of the other developing countries, let alone developed countries when it comes to creating small business and entrepreneurs. When speaking with entrepreneurs from around the globe at entrepreneurship seminars, exhibitions and conferences, a common theme of discussion (aka small talk) will be the positive and entrepreneurial nature of South Africans in general. Why then do we fall behind when it comes to results?

In my view this is mostly as a result of the following five issues- and I realize that I may be making more enemies than friends with this one:

1) We operate from fear and defensiveness. - Joint venture strategies are wide spread and common place in most of the worlds most successfully economies. In SA it seems that we are always weary that someone is going to steal our business, customers, ideas or livelihood. Lets help each other and do not work against each other, even of it does mean that we sometimes get burnt (see point 4 below)

2) We have a blame and claim culture. - Many small business owners that I know - and not know I assume - are to quick to point the finger at others, blame the economy, the government, the old government, our partners and just about anything else you can think of (yes we have great imagination and innovation when it comes to this) - anything apart from taking responsibility. The first thing that hits me when speaking to entrepreneurs from the US - (the most successful and effective entrepreneurs globally) is their will to grab the bull by the horns and do something about what ever is a challenge or obstacle) - We wait for someone else to fix it, help us or hand it to us on a platter.

I was stunned to hear from a colleagues that Junior Achievement South Africa, an organisation that works and support young entrepreneurs, are finding it difficult to get enough people on their free training courses for small business and entrepreneurs. Apparently people want to be paid to go on the courses and are otherwise not interested. - What type of a culture are we creating here? - In countries like India - who came tops in the survey by the way, - you will find young people working part time or saving up to take advantage of courses like this.

3) Lack of support and trust from SA banks. - This is an old issue - and still not close to being addressed. South African banks appear to simply not be interested in, or have any idea about supporting new ventures in this country . my Blog posts here
and here - and also Blog post from the White African Blog here

4) Shortage of integrity. Many South African entrepreneurs don't trust each other and this leads to obvious difficulties in creating sustainable business relationships. This is not without reason. Just recently the SABusinessHub team was burnt twice in one month. Firstly one of our now competitors - - initiated dialogue with us under the guise of becoming a possible partner. Only after sharing resources, ideas, website and network access and strategy information with him, did we find that he suddenly became a direct competitor doing exactly what we do - but charging more and delivering less.

Our fathers and their fathers prided themselves on the word. They meant what they said and said what they mean. Lets get back to this and walk our talk.

5) Mis management of small business funding. Although the government is spending large amounts on small business support, most of this money is going towards management salaries and infrastructure and little or none filters down to where it matters most.

- Further ideas welcome

Report findings here


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