So you want to be an entrepreneur
New Year’s Resolution
Entrepreneur (n.): from Vulgar Latin imprehendere, to seize
“one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise”
Miriam Webster Dictionary
It’s 2022, you feel stuck in your job and you decide to embark on a new venture.
You’ve been having an idea for a business for a while now, thinking about it in the shower or while driving to work, but you didn’t have the time to grasp the moment. Work has been tiring you out by the end of the day to think about anything else, family life is always keeping you busy, not a moment’s rest.
It’s the New Year: time for a change.
Where to start?
Here are some random tips
N.B: these are only suggestions. Get professional advice before taking any serious steps.
Type of Entrepreneur
Solution oriented: My favourite type are the problem solvers, those who already work in a company and are aware at some inefficient process and have a solution. They are always innovating.
For e.g. you could be working at an insurance firm and noticed how inefficient the company is at paying out medical bills. With your IT background, you suggested a new platform or software for insurance firms to make everything seamless and have doctors get paid instantly (you don’t need to start a business to be an entrepreneur, you can innovate from within your organisation).
Money oriented: this type of entrepreneur is also seeking a solution to a problem. And that problem is “how do I make more money”. This is the investor-entrepreneur.
They look for problems in the market and try to profit from it.
For e.g. Jordan imports $9.69 million worth of bandages. Maybe it would be a good idea to open a factory in Jordan and produce bandages locally.
Do your research
A pre-feasibility study is the groundwork for any business.
Is there a market for it? What is the market size of your product/service?
Is this something consumers want? Or something they didn’t know they wanted in the first place?
Should you open your business in Jordan?
It is a known fact that starting a business in Jordan is slow and time consuming, more information on those steps can be found here:
Know your enemy
Unless you are creating something totally new, you will eventually face competition, especially from well established firms that have decades of experience. If they sense you are about to take a slice from their pie, or feel threatened you are trespassing over their territory, they might find ways to make you disappear. Just like the meat mafia and how they are fighting to make sure Georgian Sheep doesn’t enter the Jordanian market. Competition is inevitable as it is natural and part of the game.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they try to copy you. Then you change the world.”
Elizabeth Holmes, failed entrepreneur
Or here is an alternative to these 5 stages:
First they ignore you
Then they mock you
Then they fear you
Then they fight you
Then they (try to) buy you out
Keep the government as a friend
Tax authority and Social Security are like leeches which will never leave you. As long as you are making your payments on time, all is well.
Keep your product/service price attractive
What is your edge? The quick answer is: better service, cheaper price.
Unfortunately there is a strange trend among startups. Either they price their product too low, below cost and at a loss, to eat up market share. Or they price the product so high thinking that 1 sale would be enough to recoup their investment (I will never buy a bar of hand made soap for 20 JODs!).
Having great customer service is really essential! Those google reviews will pay off.
Keep it Simple, Stupid
First, you would need to keep your costs low. You don’t need a lavish office right from the start. Nor do you need a lavish website. You can easily find coworking spaces for really cheap in Jordan. You can also create a good and functioning website or web-store for a few JODs/month.
Have simple KPIs and simple accounting.
Don’t complicate your business process, keep it transparent.
Don’t talk more than is needed
Just stay straight to point, maybe a whimsical wit could lighten the mood, but don’t divulge too much information that is not needed in negotiations. Also, don’t brag too much. Some aspects of your past life could come back and haunt you once you become famous.
Keep a good network
Wasta in Jordan has a negative connotation, it is even considered a dirty word. Unlike nepotism, wasta can be used for good. For e.g. a relative of yours was a classmate of a current CEO who would be your perfect first client. Cold calling companies to reach such high level people is not easy. Through your wasta/networking, maybe you can reach the necessary people. Wasta here is seen as a recommendation only. But to use wasta to get a job which you didn’t apply for thanks to your relative, that is called nepotism and against the values of a meritocratic society.
Have the right team
At the beginning, don’t hire too many people. It is not easy to fire people in Jordan and you will need a lot of cash in advance. Just hire when you need to and you can outsource most of your work (graphic design, accounting, legal, sales, production etc.) until it becomes cheaper to do it in-house.
Unlike what most people say, it is not money that makes the world go round, nor is it love. It is simply trust. If you do not trust your colleagues, very little can be done or achieved. Family or friends are ok as long as they can be competent and do what they are asked to. Remember: your relationship is based on a working contract where one person is expected to do their job (or more) for compensation (or bonus).
Have the right team that you can trust and count on, and vice versa.
Family, friends: they are the team behind the scenes, always encouraging when you are losing all hope.
Have the right mindset
“Character is revealed in action”
This is not an exact recipe book in making the perfect entrepreneur: this is what the “Machine” is looking for, to automate the production of entrepreneurs in a Taylor-Fordist way.
These are the main traits and attributes of an entrepreneur: psychological readiness, risk taker, leadership qualities, strong spirit, never giving up (except at the right moment).
Being an entrepreneur is an existential risk for many: every day (especially during the start), the entrepreneur keeps changing their self identity, self doubting (maybe this isn’t what I/the company should be). This is the heaviest toll. The hope of stability is the carrot at the end of the stick, but this should be seen as a challenge to all entrepreneurs. The ground can disappear at any moment. Be ready for paradigm shifts at any moment. Be ready for external existential threats at any moment. If you cannot handle this, maybe entrepreneurship is not for you.
Be ambitious by taking giant leaps and yet at the same time taking small calculated ones to avoid the fall.
Inspiration vs imitation
In terms of leadership, it is more authentic to be inspired that simply imitate.
If for e.g. you admire a certain billionaire who famously quit college to start his business from a garage; Be inspired by their attitude, don’t imitate them and quit college. You will find out that everyone takes their own steps in life. Experience (actual + learned) is quintessential in developing your self.
Be ahead of the curve
This is also part of your research homework that needs to be done before and remains ongoing. You always need to stay alert, be vigilant as to what your competitors are doing in the market, maybe they will launch a newer better product.
It is also better to be ahead legally and aware of the laws that govern your business sector. You cannot say in court: “I didn’t know”!
Intellectual property is also crucial: make sure you find the ways to protect it by registering it. You don’t want people stealing your ideas.
Raise the right amount
Crowdfunding is becoming a popular way to raise finances to start a company.
You need to be smart with your finances. Do not over leverage.
Failure in Jordan is not a joke. If your business fails, when liabilities accrue more than assets, the entrepreneur can be most likely personally liable for the debts and could end up in jail if they cannot meet those liabilities.
If you do fail, at least fail and crash splendidly like Zorba.