Entrepreneurship boils down to the person’s mindset. What encapsulates in the person’s mindset is being able to take the most opportunity when presented before him with an aim of achieving independence. That independence is achieved when he can do what he wants without being told otherwise by others, so long as it does not violate the other person’s rights. How entrepreneurs do this is by striking a path of his own in any fields of endeavor that closely relates to his passion or heart.
For instance, my friend and mentor Dubem Menakaya sets up GOTB.com back in 2014, a blog covering youth entrepreneurship in the UK. Since its inception, it has attracted thousands of readers and subsequently increased his credibility as a youth speaker. He did so not because he is told by his university supervisor or his friends, but because he wants to and his passion as a writer correlates to what he is doing. His very act has differentiated him as someone who can stand on his own and someone who lionize his passion through his works.
Another example is a good friend of mine. I won’t say who his name, but he typifies I would call a ‘student entrepreneur’. In his endeavors to enhance Brunei-UK relations and as a student at that, he makes the most out of his time in the UK by volunteering in various non-profit activities. In the process he makes full use of the opportunity opened before him. His passion finally paid off when he was awarded the annual student international award in his university and also become the national flag bearer to meet the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth.
From the simple act of building a entrepreneurship blog to meeting the Queen of England, that inner drive has to exist to propel someone to reach commanding heights of achievement.
One has to acknowledge however that not all are meant to become entrepreneurs. Not all people or students are meant to have the mindset. Not all are meant to publish their own blogs or meet the Queen of England. Not are meant to build businesses the scale of Hua Ho or Abdul Razak Holdings.
Saying entrepreneurship is the key to everything is presumptuous, dishonest, and intellectually lazy for any writer to do. Doing so is akin to the snake oil salesmen who paddle around cities and villages saying the Snake Oil he sells can cure A-Z diseases, from coughing to cancer, and from lung inflammation to ADHD.
Entrepreneurship, much like many subjects under the sun, have limitations to it.
There are also other areas meant to facilitate ventures beyond profit or beyond self-interest. Two examples are to becoming a Doctor in Ripas or Civil Servant in MYCS (Ministry of Youth Culture and Sports). In the process, there is a natural order in the social hierarchy facilitating different kinds of people with different skills or mindsets that makes civilizations work.
Entrepreneurship is also flaunted by many intellectuals nowadays that it becomes an oxymoron. Given its mouthful five-syllabus word, it also becomes peeving for both speaker and listener to say and hear.
Entrepreneurship does not guarantee 100% success for the individual, state, or nation, but it does play a large role in building up what is lacking in the nation right now: private enterprise. Private enterprise represents ‘that’ other part of the social hierarchy that makes economic growth possible.
Former Chief Minister of Sarawak, Mahmud Taib encapsulates beautifully the role of private enterprise in regards to the Sarawak state.
In his speech in a CNY session held last February, he said the role of private enterprise is to become the “driver for economic growth”, while the government should be the “facilitator of that growth” by producing the infrastructures, policies, etc. with the ultimate aim of making Sarawak business conducive.
“In the meantime,” he said, “private enterprise has to increase their competitiveness and productivity,” and must play their part in building the state in line of the stated economic development plan.
Who drives these private enterprises? They do not drive themselves that is for sure. The processing machine does not operate by itself. The van does not automatically send bread to customers. The plane does not fly itself.
There are people behind these businesses. The two stakeholders to be looked at in this case is the employer and the employee. The employer to put it bluntly is the ‘Boss’, and the employee the worker.
What drove the ‘Boss’ to set up a business if not to achieve personal independence and to secure the market opportunity presented before him? What drove him to force to borrow capital from the bank and taking the risk if not the mindset to achieve both of these two objectives? No one sets up a business to fail. They set up a business to profit and to call life their own. This is entrepreneurship manifest driven by the entrepreneurial mindset.
The government on the other hand has play their role in facilitating their growth by building a pro-business environment which gives the opportunity for people, regardless if they are already rich or the dejectedly poor, “to stand on their own two feet through business and entrepreneurship”.
As said, entrepreneurship does not guarantee 100% success, but in the bid to diversify the economy, private enterprise plays a monumental role in becoming the “driver for economic growth” making it possible for local businesses and industries to be built and to be operated sustainably. And these businesses and industries do not operate by themselves. These profit-making ventures, as a rule, should and are operated primarily by private enterprises (hence entrepreneurs or private individuals), not the government.
The government plays its part in building a pro-business environment ultimately making it attractive for more people to become entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs can then strike their own path of in any fields of endeavor that closely relates to their passion or heart. Consider the owners of Megastrike, the bowling complex in Airport Mall. They are passionate bowlers who attended many competitions in the region and elsewhere for the fun and sports of it. When we look at the economic activities end employment opportunities for locals generated by the family resulting from their decision to establish of the bowling alley, we can see how building more entrepreneurs can benefit to the nation.
At this point, we are lacking in these types of people. After all, the national statistics has shown “70%” or more of the people in the local workforce are in government. Hence the government and people must redouble their efforts to push for a pro-business and pro-entrepreneurial Brunei.
Both entrepreneur (private enterprise) and government have to know their position in the social hierarchy so that Brunei Darussalam can grow and develop effectively in line with ‘Wawasan 2035’. One cannot do without the other in the name of economic development.
On this note, it does not mean government has to take all the burden and spoon-fed the people to become entrepreneurs. It is more sophisticated than this. It will require an ecosystem led by the entrepreneurs themselves, as the visiting Professor from Australia spoke recently. As time passes they in turn will create their own pecking order and through this ecosystem will Bruneians able to perpetuate growth especially in the form the grassroots level.
It is at this point that the writer should stress that the small businessmen matters as much as the biggest companies in Brunei. We should take care of them or at least produce the right economic environment that would intensify more people entering and building businesses. There is a saying, “The small things matter.” Through this quote, the policy makers should see who the small time entrepreneurs are to be likely affected by the policies they have in place.
Why should small time entrepreneurs be treated well? Apple Inc., Amazon, Xiaomi, CNN, Gucci, Alibaba and the humongous MNEs today started small. Apple was started in a garage by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. They had almost nothing when they started, but they had one thing: the entrepreneurial passion to ‘make a change in the world’. Had the US government banned them from operating their business, we would not have Apple today and we would be at a loss at typing anything from Microsoft Word (Apple made font possible, I’m not mistaken).
It is highly unlikely Brunei will produce these companies and types of people. But unless policy makers or decision-makers take care of the small time entrepreneurs in Brunei, we will not likely to see any positive progress in the economy through local companies or initiatives in building Brunei companies. We then would have to outsource and hire everything to the non-Bruneians, effectively reducing Brunei’s ability, both as an economy and as a nation, to stand on its own two feet.
In closing, entrepreneurship boils down to the person’s mindset. What encapsulates in the person’s mindset is being able to take the most opportunity when presented before him or her with an aim of achieving independence. How entrepreneurs do this is by striking a path of his own in any fields of endeavor that closely relates to his passion or heart. In the process they play their role as the economic driver for their respective economies.
Additionally, for Brunei to develop, the different social actors have to know where they stand in the bid to diversify and achieve ‘Wawasan 2035’. For one government is not in the business in making profit, private enterprise plays that role and subsequently their success would help drive up economic growth. What government does is by producing infrastructures, pro-business policies, etc. to make it easy for entrepreneurs to play their allocated role. There is no specific practical formulas for producing a “Brunei Inc.”, but a simple rule of thumb is to have the “the small things matter” quote in mind.
Meaning we, as the people, state, and nation, has to look after the small businesspeople or the small entrepreneurs by placing pro-business policies that affects positively on their operations. The goal is not to make them dependent through perpetual welfare or subsidy, but to make these aspirant and actual entrepreneurs to ultimately stand on their own two feet through their own ventures.
Hence I implore for entrepreneurs and government leaders to stand and commit to enhance a pro-business and pro-economy Brunei Darussalam.