In order to build sustainable livelihoods for themselves and their families, residents of rural communities in developing countries need to become entrepreneurs.
The major problem in these communities is not just the lack of business skills; it is also the lack of opportunities. There are few jobs available, which leaves people to either continue with traditional occupations, which are often financially inadequate, or become an entrepreneur and start new a new business for themselves.
Entrepreneurs see and create opportunities for income generation where there were none before. Being an entrepreneur is riskier than working for somebody else, but the potential benefits are far greater, especially when there are few available job options. Any skill, even those that might have been learned out of necessity (cooking, weaving, or farming) can be turned into a way to generate income. When people are taught to use these skills in a business environment, to make money, these skills become business skills.
But what if there is no existing outlet for somebody to turn their skills into business skills? Or what if that person thinks they can do it better than what is already available? Then it’s time for that person to become an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur needs business skills so their business can actually create a product or service, but they also need entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurial skills are complex “soft-skills” that will help an entrepreneur cope with ever changing business conditions. Critical thinking, self-managed learning, and problem solving skills are all examples of entrepreneurial skills.
An entrepreneur needs to have a feeling of how to network and market oneself, as well as spot market opportunities and know how to pursue them. They need to ask questions, acquire new skills, adapt successfully to changing situations, and have the courage to innovate. Acquiring these skills and intuitions is not easy, but it all begins with an entrepreneurial mindset.
What is an entrepreneurial mindset? It is the first and most important step in helping someone become an entrepreneur. It is the belief that they are in control of their own future, the knowledge that they cannot just wait for somebody else to clear a path for them; they need to go out and find their own. An entrepreneur is confident they will succeed in doing something new. An entrepreneurial mindset, like all mindsets, is not easy to teach and is best attained by people actually going out and succeeding.
Being a successful entrepreneur requires a confident mindset, it requires knowledge and intuition, and it requires business skills. It’s not easy being an entrepreneur and taking on new responsibilities and risks of failure. However, successful entrepreneurs find ways to create new opportunities that greatly benefit themselves as well as their entire community.