By GIBS News
Posted on 03 August 2012
The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest in psychology. While the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) doesn’t claim to have resolved this age-old conundrum, at least when it comes to the equally mysterious question of whether entrepreneurs are born or created, they are providing the tools to unlock these innate business characteristics through their innovative full-time MBA in entrepreneurship.
Under the watchful direction of veteran journalist Chris Gibbons, the GIBS Entrepreneurship Forum attempted to unravel some of the secrets of successful business ownership and tackle the challenges, traits and tendencies of successful entrepreneurs. Making up an esteemed panel were Allon Raiz, founder of business incubator Raizcorp; Doug Smollan, chairman of the Smollan Group; serial entrepreneur Ian Fuhr, the founder of Sorbet; Benjamin Mophatlane, one of the co-founders of Business Connexion; and Lebo Mokgabudi, the youngest member of the panel and the founder of Budi Shoes.
Defining what it takes to become a successful business owner is no easy feat and Raiz – who has a coal-face understanding of what makes an entrepreneur tick – believes it’s difficult to define the characteristics needed. In his experience, however, the follow five boxes should be ticked in order to make a go of it:
• An opportunity or crisis, to set the wheels in motion;
• A tolerance for risk, which changes depending on the stages in your life;
• A tolerance for pain and the challenges which inevitably face a business owner building up a company from scratch;
• A solid self-belief in your ability to muster the resources necessary for success; and
• The ability to learn and react swiftly to changing situations.
Mokgabudi, a graduate of the GIBS Entrepreneurship MBA programme, believes that while you can’t necessarily teach someone to become an entrepreneur, the qualification “empowered me to build a brand and taught me innovative tools. It’s about learning the methods of how to manoeuvre yourself and how to manage people”.
Education, intelligence and intellect were all singled out by Smollan as essential to entrepreneurial DNA. Mophatlane certainly agrees: “You can’t discount the importance of education. Although I never became a CA I can quickly dissect a balance sheet. So mastering your resources is important.”
Equally key is a sense of realism. Said GIBS’ Executive Director: Academic Programmes, Shireen Chengadu: “It’s about being realistic about what our MBA can do for you; because not everyone is cut out for entrepreneurship.” It takes a pioneering spirit and a long-term view, stressed Fuhr, as well as the acceptance that the ebbs and flows of business ownership will mould your expectations along the way. “I started out being excited by making money. After 40 years you change and start to think that the measure of success is the contribution you make to the lives of others.” It’s a journey, not a destination.