To succeed in today’s competitive environment, global trade professionals require a number of fundamental characteristics, including:
- the vision and initiative to seek out opportunities;
- a commitment to achieving long-term goals using sustainable business practices, improving and developing new skills, understanding customer needs and delivering total quality at the best possible price;
- inexhaustible energy, which is necessary to follow through with a plan; and
- the patience to bring the venture to successful completion.
Important characteristics also include technical knowledge, cultural sensitivity and a commitment to ethical conduct. Most importantly, global traders must have the self-confidence of an entrepreneur and cultivate strong leadership skills in order to manage the sometimes unstable nature of foreign market development.
So who is the entrepreneur?
The entrepreneur is a person with vision—the team leader who is driven to achieve set goals. This person has the ability to find, involve and motivate people with similar energy, drive and dedication.
Five myths of entrepreneurship
Myth #1: Entrepreneurs are unique and relatively rare.
Fact: Entrepreneurs are everywhere, but only a small number get a lot of the attention as “superstars” of success. However, the efforts and achievements of thousands of entrepreneurs across the country often go unrecognized because these people may not fit accepted “media images.”
Myth #2: Entrepreneurs are money-driven.
Fact: Research shows that most entrepreneurs are primarily motivated by a desire for personal accomplishment. Entrepreneurs compete with themselves, seeking to better past achievements and reach new goals. Money, while important, is often used as an indicator of success rather than as a goal in itself.
Myth #3: Entrepreneurs are born, not made.
Fact: Traditionally, schooling has done little to encourage entrepreneurial initiative. This has lead successful people to believe that their behaviour originates from within. Research suggests, however, that they are a product of various influences, including their own innate qualities and their experiences, environment and schooling. Exposure to entrepreneurial activity leads to understanding and encourages imitation. Entrepreneurship can be taught, but it requires a new educational approach that fosters the appropriate attitudes.
All too often, people lack confidence in their creativity and their ability to acquire the right skills. This doubt, more than anything else, is the key impediment to entrepreneurship, but ultimately, we all have the ability to be entrepreneurial. Emerging entrepreneurs need to focus on the challenges of the venture. Successful exporters will tell you that success in new markets is highly correlated to vision, effort and determination. Nowhere is the concept of multiple solutions more apt than in international trade, where there is never a single “best” way to proceed.
Myth #4: Entrepreneurs take high risks.
Fact: Entrepreneurs are not gamblers. Gamblers take chances on things over which they have no control. Entrepreneurs want to know that whatever the outcome, it was due primarily to their own efforts. Otherwise, the personal satisfaction they seek cannot be realized. They will do everything possible to minimize risk and then examine the risk that remains, comparing it to the potential benefits, before deciding whether to proceed. Successful entrepreneurs take careful, calculated risks, not high risks. In international trade, they are very cautious and conservative operators who know that taking unnecessary risks may cause their entire venture to fail.
It is absolutely vital to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible in preparation for a venture. Going into new and uncharted waters is risky. It is challenging enough to operate in areas that are already familiar in a domestic context without also coping with what is new and unfamiliar in distant foreign markets.
Myth #5: Entrepreneurs are highly independent individuals.
Fact: Most successful entrepreneurs know they cannot do it all alone. They tend to be very honest about their own needs and shortcomings, and will seek assistance from others who can complement their own skills. Those who try to do everything themselves usually fail. Successful entrepreneurs are good “team builders,” and they know how to use teams effectively. Finding the talent necessary to ensure the success of a venture is a key skill.
An entrepreneur may often be frustrated by an inability to “share the dream.” Most are involved in initiatives they have nurtured and care a great deal about; however, the other people needed to make the idea work may not share this excitement. After all, it is the entrepreneur’s idea, not theirs. They may view the undertaking as simply a job, not a dream. This can frustrate the entrepreneur—at times to the point where he or she refuses to delegate responsibility for fear that the outcome will not meet expectations. This can lead to serious trouble. It is crucial to use other people’s talents effectively, while accepting the fact that these people may not be as driven as the entrepreneur.
Far from being independent, entrepreneurs crave trust, and they are motivated when people express confidence in them. The trust of others builds their self-image. Entrepreneurs thrive in an environment that not only challenges them but also expects them to live up to the challenge.
(Sourced from FITTskills 6th Edition, Global Business Environment)