by Amanda Khoza, Divisional Director: Transformation & Inclusion, Liberty Group
There’s something breathtaking in the shimmering beauty of a moving blanket of water and foam that seems woven together by microscopic gems of different hues. Spread across a vast expanse of space the body of water moving rhythmically swaying gently to its own tune, to its own invisible authority. The breadth, depth and width of the sea inspires supernatural possibility in our measured humanness, thinking beyond the immediate on what we can envision, what is possible, what can be. This great expanse that kisses the edge of the horizon unearths desires for equaled greatness lying within us. Picture the scene of designs that can be visualized, dreams that can be realized, and concepts that can be materialized. There’s something freeing and foreboding about the sea all at once.
When the tide turns and the skies darken, and the waters bellow and lift like a dragon rising from a disturbed slumber, the magnificence takes on a fearsome strength. It seems improbable that the breathless beauty seen before, could turn so suddenly into a crashing storm that can shatter and crush all that a few moments ago spoke of serenity and sea calm. Nature is often a metaphor of life – presenting itself as one with our ambitions and the next seemingly the source of our impending demise. Scott M. Peck in The Road Less Traveled, starts off by saying, “Life is difficult”. He pre-empts any delusions one might have about a smooth ride, and rather prepares one to be aware and wary (not glum) of all aspects that life may throw our way. Life’s truths! As an entrepreneur ventures into their dream, they do well to think boldly about their idea and its prospects whilst ensuring that they don’t keep their head in the clouds too long so as to deal with challenges and issues that will face them on this most personal of journeys.
2017 is surely the age of the entrepreneur across the world – growth requirements, corporate shrinkages, globalization and government financial injections support this notion. With all of this, you would think that entrepreneurs are on a cruise ship to success whereas instead they find themselves on a rickety boat in submission to a more resistant and daunting business environment.
At the most basic, entrepreneurs struggle to find talent – skilled individuals that want to be part of their journey. In many instances these unattainable individuals want to cut their teeth in corporates, or may not have the stomach to take on career risk when the payoff is so uncertain. Grooming talent is ideal, so why not partner with a corporate to intern young talent – if they share your grit and ambition; they are more likely to stay. If they don’t, they can still revert to the big corporate that sponsored their internship. Think of the instruments on a ship, specially crafted to help navigate the great seas; tasks become less overwhelming when a collaborative solution is considered.
It would be treacherous to venture into the ocean without equipping yourself and your ship with the basics. The non-negotiables that one must carry are a life jacket, water bottle and sunscreen – a list so simple that this may all seem obvious, but it’s not enough. A sailor needs to understand how to read the wind, hoist a mast and ensure there’s sufficient fuel for the trip.
For an entrepreneur, steering a well-oiled machine through basic resourcing is required to be sail-ready.
Managing general office administration is often neglected more especially in startups where the entrepreneur is accountant, strategist, marketer and administrator. It is only natural to focus on the tasks that bring in business; however, nurturing your business is just as important. A poorly run entity will show up at the point of delivery and will nullify all the effort that had been put into sourcing new business. Having proper processes that are automated can go a long way in assisting you in this menial but most important of tasks. Partnering with other entrepreneurs to exchange services that you each lack may help fill the gap without needing to spend on budgets that are already thin. Even a small weakness in the boarding of a boat can lead to an overflow and worse so, result in sinking.
I chuckle at this oneness humans have with the sea - how the greatness of the sea is rich with salt and the human body has salt in each of its cells. Somehow, though the sea might seem too big to conquer, there’s something in us that spurs us to think we can. We need only remember that at the very least, we must equip ourselves so that the dream to sail forth can be pursued. A docked ship is safe, but it wasn’t built for that – you must grab the sails and make your entrepreneurial trip. You can’t control the wind, but you can ready your instruments and adjust the sails.
Amanda Khoza is the Divisional Director: Transformation & Inclusion at Liberty Group, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is a passionate advocate for economic empowerment, financial literacy, and believes in the power of entrepreneurship to make real and lasting societal change happen on the African continent. Amanda is championing a host of initiatives for women entrepreneurs in South Africa, including partnering with Lionesses of Africa on the Lioness Lean In Liberty Sessions programme for intrapreneurs at Liberty, supporting The Mix newsletter each month as an impact partner, and joining with Standard Bank as the impact partners for the Lionesses of Africa Accelerator programme series in Johannesburg.
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