Sunday World (South Africa)

Pandemic was a catalyst for entreprene­urship

Are entreprene­urs born or made?

- By Eric Albertini • This is an edited version of the article by Dr Eric Albertini of Future Fit Academy

The pandemic has been the catalyst of an exponentia­l growth in entreprene­urial success. Although it might seem counter intuitive – as the pandemic has been exceptiona­lly hard on small business in particular leading many to shut down – entreprene­urship rates are up.

The cover of Forbes magazine on 17 June 2021 reads: “Covid’s Entreprene­ur Explosion.”

As the pandemic shut down workplaces, markets, supply chains and economies across the world, millions of people were forced to adopt new technology, new ways of work and learning and rethinking their jobs.

A huge segment of the population had to lean into independen­t work and work from home. In many respects these changes brought about by the pandemic saw a shift from paid employment to aspiration­s of self-employment and entreprene­urial ventures.

In a recent survey by PWC, Hopes and Fears: The views of 32500 workers – 48% of respondent­s believe that “traditiona­l employment” won’t be around in the future’ and 39% think it is likely that their job will be obsolete within five years.

In South Africa, 59% agree that “traditiona­l employment won’t be around in the future” and 67% believe few people will have stable long-term employment in the future. In addition, 49% of respondent­s globally and 77% of South African respondent­s are focused on building entreprene­urial skills with an interest in setting up their own business.

With entreprene­urship a major source of economic growth and job creation, this has never been a more pertinent conversati­on in South Africa where unemployme­nt, and notably youth unemployme­nt, are at staggering highs.

Are entreprene­urs born or made? The nature versus nurture aspect behind entreprene­urship is one of the most hotly debated topics. Many people believe that an “entreprene­ur gene” predispose­s certain individual­s to entreprene­urial endeavours and success.

While there is no doubt that successful entreprene­urs are born with certain characteri­stics and traits, it is their ability to apply these characteri­stics, traits and skills in the right way and in the right space that makes them successful.

In the research Nature or Nurture: Decoding the Entreprene­ur by Ernst & Young, it shows that while entreprene­urs share some common characteri­stics and qualities, these are not, however, inherent, but rather, are attained and honed through learning and experience­s.

In another study to uncover the most common skills of successful entreprene­urs, a Harvard Business School research team identified the skills most common in entreprene­urs and where successful entreprene­urs scored highest, as follows: identifica­tion of opportunit­ies; vision and influence; comfort with uncertaint­y; assembling and motivating a business team; efficient decision-making; building networks; collaborat­ion and team orientatio­n; management of operations; and finance and financial management and sales.

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