2 entrepreneurs 2 view points, what type are you?

2009 May 26

Yesterday i attended the final Gibs entrepreneurs forum and compared to the last event i can say i found this one much more useful. The event featured Alan Knott Craig who headed up Vodacom since 1993, only having just recently stepped out of the post. Also at the event was Nkhesani Nkosi founder founder of Stoned Cherrie who is a highly respected female entrepreneur and also one of the select few Endeavor entrepreneurs with the likes of people like Vinny Lingham.

What i found most interesting however, was the contrasting view points from both these entrepreneurs. Alan made the comment that his key objective, was the market share Vodacom had in South Africa. There is nothing wrong with this, competitiveness is one of the key characteristics of great entrepreneurs and every entrepreneur is different. Competitiveness is often one of the primary motivators for entrepreneurs and you cant be an entrepreneur with out it. However i think there are several forms of competitiveness entrepreneurs can display and the type of competitiveness affects how the organisation is built from the ground up. Which then leads into strategy, mission, values and goals etc.

  • External competitiveness: Think Microsoft & Bill Gates, What is my competitor doing? How can we beat them?
  • Internal competitiveness: What have i achieved thus far? How can i achieve more
  • Customer focused competitiveness: How can i create more value for my customers?

Contrast Alan’s view with Nkhesani’s, which is not based on market share, Stoned cherrie is building a brand that stands for something and that consumers love. When asked about her strategy on the clothing industry in South Africa and if she has considered a backward vertical integration (Standard stuff they teach in Strat 101), Nkhesani felt that would not be a strategy she would follow. Rather she felt that she would like to work with communities to empower them while at the same time building her business.

I believe Alan falls in the first category, while Nkhesani in the last. Which one is the right one? What type are you? How are you motivated? Is there even a  ‘correct’  path to choose?

Why do i think figuring this out is important?

Well your competitiveness will determine how you run your business. Simple as that. It will also affect your decisions and what you deem to be ok (Case in Point: Microsoft), it will affect your strategy and what your core focus is on. If you core focus is market share what are the costs of that? Do you do this in a responsible way, offer equal value in exchange for customers $ ? Or do you stop at nothing to gain market share (Case in point: Intel) Do you loose focus on your customer?

Maybe, the answer is not to play by old rules and strategies developed for an Industrial era, to define your own principals and strategies that caters for a new age of business, where innovation is revolutionary and not evolutionary, where new types of business leaders are needed, Where responsibility is key.

Other points i found interesting from Alan:

  • Bureaucracy in organizations kills an entrepreneur, this is true and i also think it stifles innovation (Ill expand this in a further post)
  • Entrepreneurs have to trust their instinct and go with what they feel is right, sometimes this may mean ignoring advice.

This is an open Discussion, let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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