With record levels of unemployment in South Africa, entrepreneurship is often touted as the solution to bring the Youth into the economy. But how does one create a platform and road map to ensure that today’s youth become tomorrow’s successful business owners?
The reality is that the success rate for new businesses is quite low. We know that 80% of new businesses fail before the five-year mark and very few actually get to their 10th anniversary in business. There are many reasons for this but most often it is due to burnout and lack of education and the subsequent errors made in building the business.
Often businesses that fail were also started by people that had many years of experience in corporate roles and that are well educated. This does paint quite a challenging road for today’s Youth that wants to embark on the entrepreneurial journey. So in this context what pragmatic route could the youth consider getting into business?
Let’s consider the impediments to the youth getting into business, it is lack of experience, lack of the right knowledge, and lack of capital. Start-up capital certainly is often required but its importance is often overstated because without the right experience and knowledge a young entrepreneur is quite likely to burn through capital fast.
Let’s suggest some pragmatic solutions to increase the success rate of young people getting into business.
For a person that has just finished school or tertiary studies with ambitions to get into their own business, the following pragmatic route can be considered to overcome the lack of capital, knowledge, and experience. So instead of attempting to start a business right after finishing school or tertiary studies find an intern job.
There is a shortage of jobs but this should rather be seen as an apprenticeship and an opportunity to learn how business works in the real world. In other words, look for opportunities to become an intern even if it just pays a small stipend to start with. This should then be used as an opportunity to learn as much as possible about business and to contribute to the business in as many ways as possible, having this attitude might well unlock other opportunities for the incumbent.
Whilst in this intern type of role, the business education should be fast-tracked. The ActionCOACH Y.E.S.S. (Young Entrepreneurs Smart Start program) or similar options will equip the potential young entrepreneurs with the practical real-life skills required to start a business.
After a year or two of being employed in an internship role, the young entrepreneur can start and run a part-time business and phase out of employment into their own business. Taking this route will firstly allow the young entrepreneur to learn how a business works, increase his/her business knowledge, and the opportunity to save up some start-up capital.
Successful business owners will create opportunities and employment for today’s Youth. If you are a business owner, please consider taking in some interns that can be coached and mentored into tomorrow’s successful business owners and give back in that way.