South Africa got a new president last week and the country is in a very positive mood. Well done to our new president committing to small businesses in last week’s state of the nation address. This is a standard political dream, let us build successful businesses that stimulate the economy and create jobs. A stunning dream, but not the reality if you have any experience with small business.
This is what was said by our new president during the state of the nation address.
“The growth of our economy will be sustained by small businesses, as is the case in many countries. It is our shared responsibility to grow this vital sector of the economy. “
It is the same you hear all around the world. Every politician says this. Not to say they are wrong. I am not saying our new president is not right. What I am saying is that the potential of the small business and the promise of entrepreneurship has been overhyped and oversold. What we hope (and pray) for is not what get delivered at the end of the day.
I fully support President Ramaphosa in this endeavour but we need to look at small business differently. Small business is not working. Depending on the stats you read, you have a 1 in 7 or 1 in 10 chance of even making it.
Why would you want to start a business with such a low chance of success? Really think about it? Entrepreneurship is hyped as this cool thing but when you actually do it, you quickly realize it is not that amazing thing you see on TV or what they talk about at start up fests.
The customer might get what they want when the business runs, but does the small business owner? Look at small business owners and look at their lives. It is a living hell of a never-ending sacrifice for most. Risking your health, your savings, and personal lives.
But the media glorifies the ONE business owner who gave up everything in the hope of success and then made it big. But what about the other 9 that did not make it? Where are they? They made the same sacrifices as the guy who made it big. How are their financial security now after the failure? Are they still married or did their spouses leave with the failing business?
You see, just working hard, giving it everything you have, sacrificing all that you have is not enough to make a business succeed. There are SO many other elements at play in the failure of a business.
Businesses will fail, but instead of building businesses let’s start building entrepreneurs. Let’s build businesses in such a way when failure comes it does not destroy the entrepreneurial potential that was. Let us build businesses and build entrepreneurs.
Let’s build businesses that are geared towards the growth and development of the entrepreneur and their daily battle to make a difference. When the customers get served so should the business owner. Let’s risk businesses, let’s not risk lives, happy homes and family structures. Entrepreneurs are people too. Businesses will come and go, but if we can make the entrepreneur survive then we can have another chance of uplifting the economy.
We need small businesses to uplift our economy. But before we can do that we must first address the issues facing small business owners, make life better for them. If we succeed on this level, small business will succeed on a national level.