Money Matters

The wantrepreneurs

Money Matters
By Majyd Aziz
Mon, 10, 21

There seems to be a shift in the career goals of new graduates. There was a time when most of the MBA graduates hoped to land a position in a bank or in a multinational enterprise. They had dreams of working in a well designed office environment and many were looking for future placements in foreign branches of the multinationals. Working in a locally-owned industry or commercial business was way down their future plans. Their idea was that if they were unable to land a job in banks or multinationals, they would spend time working in such businesses while continuing to apply to organisations of their choice. Being intellectual yuppies, wealthy overnight and moving in elite social circles was their aspiration.

The wantrepreneurs

There seems to be a shift in the career goals of new graduates. There was a time when most of the MBA graduates hoped to land a position in a bank or in a multinational enterprise. They had dreams of working in a well designed office environment and many were looking for future placements in foreign branches of the multinationals. Working in a locally-owned industry or commercial business was way down their future plans. Their idea was that if they were unable to land a job in banks or multinationals, they would spend time working in such businesses while continuing to apply to organisations of their choice. Being intellectual yuppies, wealthy overnight and moving in elite social circles was their aspiration.

There was also less enthusiasm for most of the graduates to become entrepreneurs as the risk factor of failing was higher than success. The efforts to go through the maze of bureaucracy, run from offices to offices to obtain utilities, convincing banks to loan funds, and hiring people to work for them were daunting and it was like sailing on uncharted waters. Creating demand for their products or services was also a matter of concern. Graduates from business oriented families were less worried since they were generally expected to join the family enterprises.

The pandemic crisis and the large number of, for example, MBA graduates being churned out by academia has seriously impacted the job environment. Most of the MBAs, especially from lower ranked universities, are hired for jobs that BA graduates used to perform in the past. In effect, most of the MBA graduates are glorified clerks and initially command a few thousand more than the minimum wage. The glut of MBAs, many of whom do not have the intellectual capacity or organisational capability, has exacerbated the situation, making it difficult for these graduates to be placed in attractive positions. Most of the Pakistani universities do not produce world class managers but send these graduates on the sea of change without a paddle.

Nowadays, a growing number of graduates (of nearly all disciplines, especially IT) are talking about running their own businesses rather than a 9 to 5 daily grind. They have ideas and fervently talk about their plans. However, most of them are those who would like to start a business but never get started. They want to be entrepreneurs, but unlike entrepreneurs who have ideas and translate these into businesses with their feet on the ground, their ideas remain on mind and paper with no implementation. That is why they are now known as wantrepreneurs. What is the difference between an entrepreneur and wantrepreneur?

Entrepreneurs are achievers through pragmatism while wantrepreneurs are building castles in the air. The recent successes of start-ups in obtaining venture capital that are in millions is proof positive of this new breed of Pakistani entrepreneurs. One measure of success has been that just in this year, start-ups have attracted nearly $300 million through fund raising from foreign venture capitalists. There are, and have been, start-ups since many years and there have been failures and successes. But these entrepreneurs persisted and endeavored and, despite minimum support of government, business organizations or venture capitalists, struggled and slogged to pursue their objectives. There may have been other colleagues and classmates who also may have had similar ideas but lacked the will to do it. Formal and informal studies have reflected that nine out of ten start-ups fail within four or five years.

The high rate of failure could be a prime reason for wantrepreneurs talking rather than performing. The overall environment for a start-up is difficult and time-consuming. There should be a workable idea with a vision for future growth. A start-up entrepreneur takes a holistic approach in order to succeed. This is another dissimilarity between a wannabe and a doer, another validation why a successful enterprise makes its mark while around nine sink in the turbulent business waters, and another reason why the brand of the enterprise is accepted and acclaimed while even the social media forgets those who do not progress on the avenue of accomplishment.

Lianne Martha Maiquez Laroya, a financial advisor and entrepreneur, lists ten differences between entrepreneurs and wantrepreneurs. First, the former believe in themselves while the latter think it is all about them, second, the former keep moving while the latter keep complaining, third, failures do not deter the former while the latter get easily discouraged, fourth, the former aim to be the best while the latter aim to be rich, fifth, the doers work hard for their business while the talkers work hard for their image, sixth, the difference between striving to get what they want and waiting to be given, seven, the entrepreneurs adapt quickly to changes while the wantrepreneurs call meetings, eight, the difference between innovation and procrastination, nine, risk taking and risk aversion, and ten, driven by own passion and driven by someone else's passion.

The motivational message for wantrepreneurs is that the ground realities must be in their focus. A business requires many basic fundamentals in order to create the environment for its establishment. A practical business strategy developed through critical research, especially market research, that includes seeking advice and consultation, compounded by deep analysis of available data, and then more importantly, a calibrated and cautious financial management, is essential and an imperative ingredient.

The onus of graduating wantrepreneurs to the ranks of entrepreneurs lies on academic institutions that must instil this enthusiasm in wantrepreneurs during the scholastic terms. After that, it is up to business organisations to set up mentoring and facilitation cells to develop these wantrepreneurs in order to encourage and inspire them. The stock exchanges need to set up venture capital enterprises to provide much required financial resources so that these young wantrepreneurs are able to get their businesses off the ground. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Wantrepreneurs must take to heart the comment of Thomas Edison who said “genius is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration.”


The writer is former president of Employers   Federation of Pakistan