• Entrepreneurship and branding

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    THE number of VIPs given entrepreneurship awards when they are second- or third-generation owners of dad’s or granddad’s business baffles me. And yes, the award-giving body may well be an international PR agency. These folks are not entrepreneurs, who are defined as persons who undertake an enterprise, not those who have it served up on a silver spoon. The term emphasizes the risk and effort of individuals who own and manage a business, and on the innovations that result from their pursuit of economic success.

    In my opinion, the entrepreneur must set out with personal risk against all odds, with no guarantee of security. Most schools and educational institutions in the Philippines train and educate students to be employees, but a few graduates venture out on their own, starting small and succeeding with determination; they use smarts and personal funds to be their own boss. There is nothing wrong with being born rich and belonging to an established enterprise. Taking over the reins from the family is to be expected, but having the takeover awarded as entrepreneurship expertise is bogus.

    We need to celebrate entrepreneurs of course, but let’s make sure they truly are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is not a competition where the good, the better and the best are measured against each other. The only competition is to overcome obstacles and stay the course, year after year.

    Sales volume, international expansion and popularity are but statistics. They are not the true measure of entrepreneurship, which is the success of the venture established by the person who has persevered and established a venture that provides employment.

    Superbranding plays a significant role in entrepreneurship, as we identify successful, sustaining business models; most often they result from personal endeavors against all odds to establish integrity. Celebrity and glitz do not make the brand. A COO (child of owner) may be brilliant and skilled, but is not an entrepreneur. PR strategists may bestow entrepreneurship awards on these COOs for whatever purpose, but it is the public who is fooled.

    Frank H. Knight (1921) and Peter Drucker (1970) said that entrepreneurship is about taking risk. The behavior of the entrepreneur reflects a kind of person willing to put career and financial security on the line and take risks in the name of an idea, spending much time and capital on an uncertain outcome.

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