Uchechi works in JarusHub
During the past years, there has been a rise in the entrepreneurial fever – where everyone desires to become one. There is nothing wrong with entrepreneurship as it spurs investment, create jobs and wealth. The top firms in Nigeria and globally were founded by entrepreneurs. However, when one hears/reads statements such as “create a job”, “don’t be a slave”, “a salary received extends your prison term”, “you cannot be rich as an employee”, “you are wasting time enriching another individual”, “your salary is a bribe given to you to forget about your dreams”, “people who receive salaries are slaves” and the one I consider the most ridiculous – “I don’t want to work for someone”. There are many of such thoughts – which are flawed – parading our cyber space about entrepreneurship.
Firstly, entrepreneurship goes beyond “buying and selling or opening of a shop”. It requires developing new ideas, problem solving, tenacity, innovative spirit etc. At most we have more business wo(men) than entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Delving into entrepreneurship requires managerial knowledge, raising of capital, and most importantly, possessing the idea. Yes, you might have the idea, but managing an enterprise goes beyond just having it in your head or on paper.
Secondly, the statement that you cannot be rich as an employee is false. This is because being “rich” is subjective. To Dangote, Mark Zuckerberg is richer than him, to Zuck, Bezos is richer. Our flawed entrepreneurs forget that not everyone desires to be rich. Yes! As odd as it sounds, there are persons who are satisfied with receiving a salary at a stipulated time and don’t want to be rich. They need the environment to realise their dreams (yes, they have dreams too), and become successful. On its own, being successful is relative. For some, it simply means a having a regular 9 – 5 job that offers the comfort of a home, car(s), money to sponsor their kids to good schools and a retirement fund. Living their life ‘one step at a time”. They should not be criticised for this choice – which is their prerogative. Also, not everyone can be rich as it’d be Zimbabwean – economically. It is unnatural. One can live a comfortable life as a salaried employee, yes, you not might be rich as billionaires on Forbes. However, not everyone can. The CEO Accenture Nigeria, Niyi Yusuf, is a salaried employee, but lives a comfortable life by all ramifications. Same can be said about the Kemi Onabanjo of McKinsey & Co. Or are these individuals unsuccessful? There are many, salaried and successful. Their dreams are being realised at where they work.
Furthermore, there is a striking thing about these flawed entrepreneurs’ thoughts. This is because with the way they sing, talk, write and blog about their fellow citizens running towards corporate jobs. One would believe there is a country where entrepreneurs are more than employees. There is no country where entrepreneurs outnumber employees. Think about it. Is there any country where we have more “job creators” than “job seekers”? No. In developed societies, people discuss more about gaining employment than becoming entrepreneurs. You see data of employment figures being released monthly, quarterly, biannual or annually. Countries nay politicians are proud when the unemployment rate drops. Also, renowned MBA programs have the rates of being employed after graduation as one of their selling points. Yes, MBA students are taught modules of entrepreneurship by top class professors and invited to symposiums on entrepreneurship. Yet, the vast majority of MBA grads get back into paid employment than entrepreneurship. Which reiterates my point about no place, globally, are there more entrepreneurs than employees. Yes, entrepreneurship creates jobs, but not the way it is talked about in Nigeria. As if people won’t eventually manage the enterprise.
Fresh graduates in Nigeria are being told to “create jobs’ immediately they leave school. Is there anything wrong with this statement? No, emphatically. However, when that becomes the only line being drummed into their ears, it becomes a problem. Inasmuch as there are folks who desire being entrepreneurs, there is a sub-set that will delve into it (entrepreneurship) after working with a firm/individual for a period of time. Not graduating today, and becoming an entrepreneur tomorrow. Just like that? And you expect everyone to jump into it? This is because everyone is the same, right? Check out the statistics of top entrepreneurs, we have more successful entrepreneurs who worked for a while in different firms and positions before creating their enterprise. And you know one fascinating thing about these entrepreneurs? They did and do not denigrate paid employment. Neither did they vow never to work for someone. Why denigrate something you will have in your firm? Or are you aspiring to employ slaves? It shows the difference between flawed and authentic entrepreneurial thoughts.
On the other hand, this writer has managed his family hospitality business, and I witnessed how it is to run one in Nigeria. The attempts by employees to pilfer to clients not understanding why prices are increased to fuel prices being increased arbitrarily to generator maintenance. Sometimes you begin to wonder, why not just work, and earn money steadily? Why stress yourself? With the experience gained, I find it difficult to start an enterprise in Nigeria. No doubt, the benefits are there – a huge market. However, it gives me sleepless nights. A factor our flawed entrepreneurs don’t understand is the country they are in. Nigeria is one of the difficult places to run a business globally. From employees versed in pilfering to highly punitive taxes to poor infrastructure (especially the Internet), and most obvious – non availability of electricity (2 – 5 hours daily supply of electricity is not electricity to me).
Entrepreneurship goes beyond “not being a slave”. Folks recommend entrepreneurship as the quick pill to our high unemployment rate. However, I posit that availability of 24/7 electricity will reduce unemployment to its barest minimum. Then again, even in countries with constant electricity, there is still unemployment – which is not unique to Nigeria.
Finally, peoples’ decisions should not be distorted by mere trite songs about entrepreneurship. Question is: If everyone decides to own a business, who will work in these firms? Slaves? If you desire to be an entrepreneur, fine and good. It is commendable. Whether you desire to be self-employed or being in paid employment is totally your prerogative. Do not denigrate others’ duties because they don’t fall in line with yours. People should be given the support to pursue their dreams as long as they don’t commit a crime. We are different and this makes us unique.
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