Amitabh Sharma, Features Coordinator
THERE ARE many, who strive to get a job and climb up the career ladder. Then there are some, who are bitten by the 'bug', as entrepreneurship is often referred to.
Those who have chosen the latter say this route is exciting, as well as full of challenges.
"The path of entrepreneurship is exciting," said Aldain Reid, president of the Young Entrepreneurs' Association of Jamaica (YEA), "There are numerous prospects that will facilitate the growth," he added.
Reid, who prides himself in being a serial entrepreneur, started out with a dream and made his way to the top. As a businessman, he has a multifaceted role and recommends that persons, who have a knack for setting up their own ventures, should always follow some basic principles.
"I would like to share a few tips which, I believe, will enhance your prospects for success," said Reid.
"Networking is as old as the hills, but many entrepreneurs still do not get it right," he pointed out.
Reid said networking is not merely about how many business cards you collect. It is about making the right connections with people to exchange ideas, information and resources to make a difference in your surroundings.
"The best networkers are good listeners who focus on other individual's needs," Reid declared.
Reid suggested one can find great contacts at events and recommended joining a peer group, such as the YEA.
"There's nothing effective like swapping ideas with those who have been there, done that," he said.
Reid said interaction not only speeds up the learning curve but also provides an opportunity to interact with like-minded individuals.
"Getting the best deals is critical to the long-term success of your company," he pointed out.
The YEA president said entrepreneurs often fail to realise how much time they spend negotiating deals.
"Whether it's with our staff, customers, suppliers or partners, we are constantly negotiating," he said.
Reid believes one should view negotiating as a problem-solving exercise rather than a competitive sport.
The keys to successful negotiating are listening well and a willingness to be persuaded.
"Typically, the outcome of a negotiation is based on the amount of preparation you do," he said.
According to Reid, it is vital to understand communication skills and articulating key messages is the key.
"Whether it is the employees, customers, media or shareholders, an entrepreneur must be consistent," he said.
"Successful entrepreneurs must not only make themselves heard, but hear others," Reid believes.
He said one should listen to what people are telling and establish mechanisms to encourage feedback. He recommends joining one of the Jamaica chapters of Toastmasters International to improve public speaking skills.
Striking a balance
Reid said like any other profession, it is necessary to strike a balance in one's life. "Many entrepreneurs sacrifice their personal life to grow their businesses," he pointed out.
The YEA president said that if one is overworked, the focus will be lost and one would be less responsive. "If overlooked for a period of time all these things can lead to failure," Reid warned.
To take time off, it is critical to have an effective team in place. Reid said they should have the competency to run the business in your absence. "You simply cannot have everything funnel through you," he said.
Focus on your team
People are the key to what drives the success of a business.
"No company can move forward unless its employees are on its side," Reid pointed out.
He said winning teams are built on trust, respect and a mutual liking for each other.
"One does not require any magic wand or charisma to be a good leader. Modest leaders who can connect with their employees lay foundations for a well-run team," he explained.
It is also critical, he said, to get feedback on your performance.
"This process may be painful, but it will make you stronger and help you learn from your mistakes."
Think outside the box
Reid said change is the only constant in business, from evolving markets and economic trends to emerging technologies, the ability to anticipate change and how it will impact business is crucial to the longevity of a company.
"One needs to have an all round knowledge. Entrepreneurs should know about the intricacies of complementary business sectors."
It is also essential to keep abreast what is happening globally.
"Some of these events can have repercussions locally," Reid explained. "You should think of this information as a tool to compete and win."
Finally, Reid recommends being creative, build knowledge from interactions with contemporaries, customers and those in other industries and sectors.
"Entrepreneurship is a learning process," he said. "The more you are open to learn will determine the growth path your business takes."
Ask your self constantly, he said, what others are doing that you are not and how can you improve on what they are doing.
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