From the Archives of Entrepreneurship in Oman

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Budding Entrepreneurship in Oman
by, Manishankar Chakraborty

Be a job provider and not a job seeker:
Entrepreneurship is attracting the attention of all and sundry all across the globe. People are trying to do away with routine jobs and are willing to kick start something on their own. They are also willing to do that extra bit so that they can chalk out their career in the way they want, and more importantly take their own decisions. All these are well complimented by the availability of a plethora of options as economies all over the world are trying to remodel themselves by emphasizing more on small and medium scale industries. In such a scenario it is indeed a golden opportunity for many wannabe professionals to be job provider, rather than being job seekers.

The emerging economies like India, China and Middle East and North African (MENA) region is trying to energize, motivate, guide and mentor the upcoming professionals to change their career course from being job seekers to job providers. In that regard, various government departments, private bodies, institutes of higher learning are joining hands to push the momentum of entrepreneurship in their respective countries.

Sultanate of Oman is one of the better placed economies amongst the AGCC nations as it could withstand the current recession with minimal impact, thanks to the solid fundamentals being put in by the visionary, His Majesty and his team of domain experts. The tenacity and seriousness of the Omani’s to do something so as to improve their quality of life, the development of the nation and society at large are the ideal precursors needed to push forward this entrepreneurial culture all across the Sultanate.

The bubbling confidence of the prospective entrepreneurs was evident while yours truly was handling the students pursuing Diploma in Business Studies, where one of the subjects happens to be entrepreneurship. Recently, on 3rd February 2010 to be specific it was an opportunity for me to visit the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ibra Chapter with the Higher Diploma students of Human Resource Management. There was a pep-talk, career guidance session conducted by the experts from Knowledge Oasis, Muscat and Shell’s Intilaaqah Oman, a social initiative for nurturing entrepreneurship. The two hour session threw light on every aspect of entrepreneurship and the august audience comprising of some practicing entrepreneurs apart from the students from Ibra College thoroughly enjoyed the same as they could very well relate their theoretical learning with the practical sermons emanating from the horses mouth (read experts from Knowledge Oasis Muscat and Intilaaqah, Oman). On seeking an informal feedback about the two hour deliberation, many of the students seemed convinced to start of their own venture rather than looking for jobs.

Challenges for a prospective entrepreneur:
A prospective entrepreneur cannot have a cakewalk as there is lot of challenges which needs to be overcome so as to make the venture a success. The faint hearted often term these challenges as problems and tend to give up the opportunity to go for a start up. However, the determined ones take everything in their stride with an optimistic view and thereby march ahead closer to their dreams.

Some of the common challenges are listed below-

(a) Lack of knowledge and general awareness- Most of the prospective entrepreneurs while pursuing their studies in some professional programs aren’t aware about the opportunities and scope available to them as an entrepreneur. They often program their mind as per the majority where their sole intention is to get a job either in some company or ministry. But, now with the courses being offered by many colleges and universities in Oman, along with the practical support and need based training offered by bodies Knowledge Oasis Muscat, Shell’s Intilaaqah Oman, with perennial support from Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, it is comparatively easier for a budding professional to understand the nuances of entrepreneurship and thereby do away with the mental cobwebs.

(b) Inherent fear- Nine out of ten people walk away from setting up a venture only because they fear failure. It is an accepted fact that entrepreneurship calls for risk taking abilities, however that does not mean the concerned person has to blind risks without doing the homework and the associated calculations. The fear psychosis is developed only because of the lack of knowledge, awareness about the opportunity and ways and means to manage the problems arising out from time. A slight risk after understanding the pros and cons of the decision can go a long way in creating a business empire. All leading business tycoons also had the same apprehension when they ventured out, but, over a period of time, the same takes a back seat, culminating in enhanced motivation and confidence to go for the uncertainty.

(c) Capital and other resource related issues- Many prospective entrepreneurs walk away from going for a start-up as they feel it calls for more capital and allied resources which they may not have with them. Leading banks and financial institutions can not only make it possible, but also provide the requisite training on managing these resources so as to make the dream turn into a reality. Sourcing resources in a globalized world that too when everything is wired in the era of World Wide Web is no more a distant possibility. One step in taking the decision and the rest would follow.

(d) Which business to start- It is often a dilemma for all prospective entrepreneur. The question may not have a instant solution, however, with a dedicated effort to walk towards the goal, one can not only gather enormous ideas from different sources pertaining to the business or venture he/she is willing to start, but can also decide whether the individual has the commensurate skills and expertise in that domain area or not. At the end everything boils down to a firm decision on the basis of solid facts and figures.

(e) Management Skills- Most of the professionals sans the professional qualifications in management often tend to think they may not be successful as an entrepreneur as they lack formal knowledge in business management. This is never the case in reality though. While the business management student get an head start while initiating their venture, the ones from other disciplines can catch up pretty soon as management calls for nothing more than sheer common sense(although uncommon at times). Learning the tricks of the trade by observing peers, competitors, and the changes in the external environmental variables enables even a novice to be a successful business baron. A sheer glance on all successful businessmen from all across the globe would reveal that most of them did not have any formal management or business qualifications.

(f) Stringent regulatory norms- Quite often a wannabe entrepreneur thinks that starting a business and operating it successfully calls for compliance with strict regulatory norms. To an extent this may be true; however, he never realizes the fact that these regulatory norms have been put in place keeping in mind the benefit of all the business stakeholders who are directly and indirectly related to the business processes and their related activities. These norms, regulations, rules provide direction to an entrepreneur which results in expediting the person to reach his goal.

(g) Facing competition from bigger rivals- Many budding entrepreneurs alter their aspiration from a venture to a job seeing the threat they are going to face from their bigger rivals. This is not really the case as one can very well demarcate the market segment and the target audience one is ready to focus on, and after knowing their exact needs, wants and demands they can not only provide commensurate offerings, but can also go for customization, enabling them to differentiate from the bigger rivals. In a global market, there are enough places for all to focus and garner profits. There have been instances where a small start-up has threatened the existence of an age old established player only through focused business approach.

(h) Motivation- In a job there is a superior and at times even ones peer and subordinate who motivates a person to perform. In entrepreneurship there are no such people around as the decision maker has to get self motivation. Although it may sound ridiculous and difficult to implement, sheer and dogged determination, confidence on ones ability and the power of dream can motivate an entrepreneur even through the most difficult times one encounters while managing or starting the venture.

Manishankar Chakraborty

About manishankarscribbles

A management trainer, consultant and faculty with experiences in South Asia, Middle East and Australasia. I am also present in and apart from .
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