We live in a strange world today. There seems to be no end to adhering to politically correct agendas that are both fashionable and seemingly the ‘in’ thing to do – somehow. Yet, the same old has survived and will continue to survive no matter what the PC crowd might think. The same applies to entrepreneurship. Especially so in an age when some hackneyed yet PC-relevant words and norms seem to define the majority of businesses, irrespective of their consequences.
When it comes to entrepreneurship, we maybe out to achieve many noble objectives but our primary vision will be to build and sustain a business that yields an income. That is a simple fact that has built some of the world’s biggest and best companies. Being profitable is the cornerstone of entrepreneurship – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Every business is built on that fact – without which there will be no scope for any business. It’s good to be concerned about the supply chain and include values in it such as directly buying from the source, but there needs to be a thread of concern for the bottom line. Without which you will not be able to sustain the business and keep the supply chain empowered.
It’s the same when it comes to being concerned about the environment. Although many companies pay lip service to being environmentally sound, we all know how things work. Some will continue to pollute the environment in more ways than acknowledged. Let’s face it – the nature of some businesses will always involve some form of pollution; the best way would be to review ways of minimizing it while looking to a future when there will be no need to cause so much pollution instead of pretending to be far from it.
In entrepreneurship, the core values will always be based on building a business that can support the structure it is built on and can keep adding value whether in generating more business, keeping more people employed or in providing a decent bottom line. Walking away from those core values in pursue of a fashionable agenda is likely to bring the business to a halt. It is good and relevant to be mindful of changing customer needs – but staying abreast of such needs while still surviving, as a business is critical for growth and expansion.
Lately, we have seen many businesses marketed efficiently on social media, often started by enterprising young entrepreneurs who often pursue business goals based on fashionable values – environmentally responsible, ethically sourced, empowering supply chains and generally promising a very sound product offering that makes them politically correct. And that’s a good mix to bring to the table but you can’t help wondering sometimes, if the same level of concern exists for long-term sustainability and growth. Is the business built on sound financial principles that will yield the kind of results that will keep everyone happy? These are questions that must be answered before the business can grow.
We all know that there is a honeymoon phase of a business. That’s the first phase when everything often seems so good that you think you’ve got it made. Too early to assume so but for most young and trendy entrepreneurs who see the world as their oyster, this seems so.
And then come the lean years – the initial enthusiasm among friends and family that initially supported the business dies down to a trickle and the real world beckons with real issues. Are we ready for that phase – do we see a future beyond that, one in which we have outgrown the issues that dog us in pursuit of achievable not idealistic goals?
Real life is hard – it’s tough to be an entrepreneur. You find that you have to work hard for everything you’ve got – some of it might involve compromising on some of the so-called PC values. A lot of it may make you a mean bad capitalist but that’s how it is. Entrepreneurship is unfortunately not always doing the right thing – it is about building a business out of nothing and ensuring that it stays on course.
With unlimited opportunities opened up by technology, today’s crop of young entrepreneurs has access to a market that others before them could only dream of. Yet, being tech savvy is just part of it – not the entirety. Some get carried away in their pursuit of tech-dependent businesses that once again, may miss the long-term goal.
How then can we ensure that the spirit of entrepreneurship lives on in a world that is increasingly seeking value in politically correct, right sounding thinking without causing offence? How do businesses survive the crunch? The best way, in a nutshell, is to keep the goals that form the foundation of any business, in mind – let’s face it – there is never any walking away from such old-fashioned values. They have survived and they always will, no matter the rhetoric.
I always think of the lyrics of the Glen Campbell hit ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ that are relevant not just to music makers but also those choosing to be entrepreneurs.
“Hustle is the name of the game and nice guys get washed away like the snow and the rain…there’s been a load of compromising…on the road to my horizons…but I’m gonna be where the lights are shining on me…”
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)