The Centre of Research Excellence (CORE) was approached by a client who focuses on developing entrepreneurial potential in South African youth. The study entailed a qualitative analysis of entrepreneurship-related narratives for a sample of students currently completing a training programme.
In collaboration with the client, CORE developed a questionnaire that focuses on entrepreneurial aspects. The questionnaire included some open-ended questions, thus allowing the students to provide descriptions of their own experiences with entrepreneurial endeavours. Students responded to the questionnaire via an online survey and all data was stored electronically on secure, password protected servers. In this case study, we highlight some of the findings from the questions that related to characteristics that can aid or detract in entrepreneurial success. The questions were analysed using content analysis.
Characteristics that aid in entrepreneurial success
Business acumen and skills - related to having been exposed to business knowledge, having experience in aspects of business, natural talent, and skills related to specific business functions.
Drive and dedication - related to aspects like commitment, dedication, discipline, and being able to maintain focus.
Interpersonal characteristics - related to topics around communication, being able to interact with others, and effective networking.
Intrapersonal characteristics - related to aspects around personality characteristics, values, as well as individual characteristics relating to aspects like confidence, charisma, and empathy.
Support - related to the support systems that the participants had in place as well as their willingness and eagerness to collaborate with others.
Characteristics that can detract from entrepreneurial success
Lack of execution - related to tasks (i.e. procrastinating, not following through on commitments, an unclear vision, etc.) and intrapersonal aspects like self-doubt that kept them from being proactive.
Lack of resilience - related to experiencing anxiety, struggling to overcome difficulties or obstacles, and getting impatient or frustrated with slow progress or setbacks.
Lack of skills/knowledge - related to not having appropriate business-related skills and knowledge.
Not enough support - related to not having sufficient support and also the unwillingness to ask for help when needed.
Not planning/setting goals - related to participants not having clear goals or plans in place to achieve their goals. It also related to a lack of understanding of what they need to do, the inability to create a project plan, and being disorganised.
Overcommitting - related to having too many responsibilities, finding it difficult to hand over control of certain elements of the business, being overconfident or too ambitious, and struggling to find a balance between their entrepreneurial endeavours and their other responsibilities.