An entrepreneur is someone who sees a new opportunity and creates a business or social enterprise to exploit it.
Throughout the Pacific are examples of young, and not so young, entrepreneurs who have seen an opportunity to do something for themselves and grasped it with both hands.
In this series I am exploring what it means to be an entrepreneur in the Pacific. Today I focus on ideas – what are they, where do they come from, how do we get them, what do we do with them and how do we turn them into sustainable enterprises?
Remember, everything begins with an idea and ideas can change the world. Then the challenge is how to make that idea happen. Sometimes we have to get rid of old ideas, of old ways of thinking in order to make room for the new. Simply having the idea is not enough. We have to act on it and put it into action.
Ideas are defined as plans, thoughts, or suggestions, especially about what to do in a particular situation.
We all have them, all the time. However, most of us do not act on our new ideas. Self-doubt or lack of confidence can get in the way. We are frightened that others will laugh at us. We have been brought up not to express ourselves but merely to follow what others tell us. These are not the characteristics of the entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs love to have new ideas. Brainstorming is a great way to work with others to creatively explore new solutions to old problems. Two heads are always better than one. Share your idea with someone you trust and get them to help you explore it.
While brainstorming uses a variety of exercises to unlock new thinking about old subjects – and follows a trajectory of immersion, incubation and insight generation, ideation is more visionary in nature, seeking to see and discern solutions for problems that are not yet defined in many cases.
It is important not to stop the flow of ideas, even if you personally do not agree with them or you feel they cannot work. There is no such thing as a stupid idea – even unrealistic ideas might lead to something real and tangible. Techniques such as mind mapping engage the right side of our brain – the creative side – and encourage us to use pictures, colour, drawings, large sheets of paper!
In Vanuatu, Yumi Work and V Lab have been established to help with the development and execution of ideas. In Tonga TYEE is encouraging young people to follow their dreams. In the Solomon Islands, YECSI and Dreamcast Theatre are doing the same and I am sure there are similar initiatives in all Pacific countries.
V Lab’s Bisnis Nakamal has just been launched in Vanuatu as a place where ideas can be born, nurtured and grown. Starting with the Saeed Haus, entrepreneurs are assisted through workshops, networking and coaching to explore and identify potential business ideas. Moving on to the Green Haus, ideas are assessed for their viability by testing them in the market. Finally, in the Market Haus entrepreneurs are actively supported to develop their business.
If you are going to explore a new idea it is important to surround yourself with supportive people who will share your enthusiasm and help you find a way forward. Be careful of the dream takers– people who for a variety of reasons only known to themselves do not want you to succeed. Maybe they are jealous, maybe they are frightened that you will fail or succeed, and they will be left behind! You have to back yourself. Be bold, be courageous and enjoy the process of creating something new – you never know where it will lead.
New ideas tend to flourish when we feel relaxed and are able to open up our minds to new possibilities. Stressful situations usually restrict the flow of ideas especially where there is a lot of unwanted stress. If you can, organise a time and venue where you can relax with ideas and let the ideas flow!
Share ideas with other people and make something new!
Next week I will explore some of the main challenges for entrepreneurs and how can they be overcome. I will explore strategies for keeping going especially when the going is tough, as it is at the moment.
I hope you enjoy this series. As always, please contact me if you have an interesting story to tell and are happy for it to be told.
Breadfruit Consulting (www.breadfruitconsulting.com) is a Vanuatu-based business providing advice, training, coaching, and mentoring to businesses throughout the Pacific islands. Breadfruit specialises in a range of business development activities including ‘business continuity planning and action’, helping businesses to survive in a crisis, designing and starting new, sustainable businesses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Founding partner at Breadfruit Consulting.