Then and now

Nawaf Al-Arbash

At first, let us set a fact straight: I strongly believe that entrepreneurs do not have to own a business. They can be anyone who is proactive, takes the initiative and leads in their domain – be it a daytime job, volunteer work or even in their homes amongst their families – although this article sheds light on business entrepreneurs (business owners).

I am very proud of all Kuwaiti entrepreneurs who have risen in different business industries in the past decade. They were and still are role models for many entrepreneurs after them, which means they have set a benchmark that says “you do not have to settle for a job and a fixed paycheque.” This is where I beg to differ. I have been witnessing a lot of resignations nowadays by people proclaiming to be entrepreneurs, because they are willing to take the risk of leaving their job and starting their own businesses, shifting from the former to the latter like a bullet train!

You see, back in the days where our ancestors were working day and night to bring some bread and butter home; some made it as businesspeople, while others merely secured a roof and food on their tables. Let us take the ones that established successful businesses, many of whom own major conglomerates in our present day. Such entrepreneurs from the 20th century most likely started from nil, or a very weak compensation from a job. Yet, they nurtured their families and saved some of their income – if they could afford to – and continued to work faithfully.

Now, the difference in investment opportunities and business ideas back then is that the market was new and growing, where almost any idea would have been seen as a “new and good idea”, because at that time there were gaps and demands in many sectors, with zero competitors of those that could be counted on one’s fingers. This made it almost inevitable (even statistically) for a business to succeed; and in turn, it would have made a lot of sense for the entrepreneur to leave their job and attend to their business to nourish and grow it.

Coming back to the 21st century: Our young entrepreneurs are highly motivated and extremely smart, but some might be a tad bit over-motivated after seeing their peers’ success, reading “successful people’s quotes” (which is a trend now), and seeing wealthy people’s Instagram posts from all over the world. This creates a blur in their judgment.

We are in an era where the gaps in the market are not as they were back in our ancestors’ days, and many ideas which our young entrepreneurs have are exposed to a saturated marked (which means that there is no room for one more). It also means that the person is taking a very high risk leaving their stable income for a business that they might have not planned well for.

As many success stories as there are, people should also know there are lots of people who did not quite make it – which is fine – but they have also put themselves in debt and have lowered the living standards of their families, all because of an ambition. Or specifically, taking the wrong way to pursue an ambition.

Opportunities are there in the market, and like there were gaps back in the 20th century, new gaps exist now as a result of the high rate of businesses opening. A person should have a comprehensive business plan, do some market research and perform a feasibility study. These tools are like stories that will tell you the risk you will be taking, and if it is worth it or not to take it.
I hope all readers advise – but never stop – anyone around them who wants to leave their job blindly because of a business idea. Let them start it leanly (I will talk about lean start-ups in another article) – the state’s policies allow and support it well now.

By Nawaf Al-Arbash


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