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 some of the main challenges for entrepreneurs and how they can be overcome. I will explore strategies for keeping going especially when the going is tough, as it is at the moment.
Entrepreneurs learn very quickly of the need to turn problems into opportunities. There are many challenges that can get in your way if you let them. The entrepreneur will seek to find the positive in any difficult situation.
Entrepreneurs need to be risk takers; solution seekers; ground breakers and be willing to challenge what has gone before. To do that you need to be supported by business partners, friends, family, coaches and other sources of business help. You will benefit from being around other entrepreneurs and listening to their stories, the challenges they face and how they overcome them.
The first challenge you will encounter is likely to be the need to develop your business idea and clarify your vision and goals. There are a range of workshops on offer throughout the Pacific that will provide valuable information. Don’t rely on a workshop alone – seek the help of a mentor or coach to work with you and to support you as you develop your ideas.
Accessing the funds you need is also likely to be an early challenge. My advice is to try and avoid a loan, especially in the early days. It is better to start small within your means and use your own resources and grow gradually.
Choosing a suitable business location, seeking customers, identifying the best target market for your product or service, setting up financial management systems and understanding the competition are all challenges faced by anyone establishing a new business venture. In each Pacific country there are organisations established to help entrepreneurs work through all these issues and there is a growing number of very experienced local coaches and mentors who are there to guide and support.
If you do not know who to contact in your country then please contact me and I will give you details
I meet many entrepreneurs who have great ideas but who have no knowledge of how to turn those ideas into practice. In Vanuatu we have just launched Bisnis Nakamal to provide business support, guidance and practical assistance. YECSI in the Solomon Islands, TYEE in Tonga and a number of organisations in Fiji including FCEF and various support organisations aimed at women and young people all offer support and can direct you to experienced local business coaches who will understand business, being an entrepreneur and the local culture.
Many entrepreneurs are highly creative people who thrive on facing and solving new challenges and who love grappling with problems. It is important to remember that not everyone is like that and not everyone will understand you and your passions. Another challenge faced by entrepreneurs is what I call the dream takers – the people who find it hard to share their dreams and who, for some reason or other, feel threatened or intimidated. Maybe they are jealous of you or are sad that they are not like you and do not have the confidence to follow the path of the entrepreneur. Do your best to surround yourself with positive people - with people who take a half-full attitude to life. They will encourage and support you, especially through tough times.
Keep learning and exploring. This will keep your brain active and the ideas will continue to flow! Have fun while you are learning.
Develop a healthy lifestyle and try to practice regular reflection. Once a week, take some time to look back on the week just gone and ask yourself what you achieved, what you are most proud of and, if you had the week again, what would you have done differently. Then look ahead at the coming week and set some goals for the week that you can measure and review at the end.
Don’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. Focus on why you can, and be one of the exceptions.
Next week I will continue my look at ways of succeeding as an entrepreneur. If you need any contacts or advice then do get in touch.
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.