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Head Office:31 Rochester Drive,Level 24, Singapore 138637Telephone: (65) 6808 8760

Success secrets: Owning your vision

By August last year, the American techpreneur had a net worth of Sh6.8 trillion ($68 billion). His company has directly employed more than 43,000 people worldwide, and hundreds of thousands others were indirectly employed by Facebook.

This is all thanks to Zuckerberg, who spotted a gap and filled it with a creative solution. What about you? What motivated you to start your business? Why did you choose the career you are in, or the course you pursued in college? If you are an entrepreneur, do you own your company’s vision? If there was no monetary reward, would you still wake up every day to do what you do?

Environmentalist and development expert Richard Munang says that 80 per cent of innovations by young Africans fizzle out and die within the first two years due to lack of a clear vision. Part of the reason for this, Richard argues, is that most young entrepreneurs and innovators lack what he calls ‘‘unborrowed vision.’’

According to the author of Making Africa Work through the Power of Innovative Volunteerism, majority of young entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to make money, rather than the passion to solve problems and transform lives within their society.

‘‘Unborrowed vision is the ability to use your skills and abilities to do things that can touch and change other people’s lives.

‘‘You must ask yourself, ‘what is my contribution to the society?’ It is only by answering these questions correctly that you can create impactful solutions.

‘‘Learn to see the economic or environmental challenges in your community as veiled opportunities. When you look at them this way, you’ll be able to design practical solutions using your ideas and intellect, thereby benefiting yourself and others,’’ he explains.

“If you focus only on increasing your earnings, you won’t care about changing lives. Unborrowed vision requires you to change your mindset and aim at creating change in your community instead of only focusing on your personal benefit,’’ he adds.

The reason most brilliant innovations collapse, he says, is failure by young entrepreneurs to focus on the bigger picture and instead investing only in projects that bring them immediate gratification.

‘‘Young people often get excited by money and consequently abandon their visions. And then when the money is gone, they lose their drive, because the vision wasn’t anchored on the desire to create change,’’ he observes.

When you own a vision, he says, you’re likely to pursue it relentlessly, even when there is no guarantee that you will be rewarded financially.

So, how can you ensure that your innovation or business idea conforms to the tenets of unborrowed vision?

‘‘There must be a change of attitude towards work. Working hard is not enough. You should work hard with the view of achieving collective good,’’ he shares.

‘‘Most people today will only seize opportunities that will benefit them. They ask questions such as, “what is in it for me? And why should I care?” and this defeats the mission of transforming lives.’’

Richard says that entrenching values that place people above materialism is critical in coming up with change-driven inventions.

‘‘Human capital is the most significant form of capital in the world. If we focus on harnessing the skills, talents and creativity of young people, we’ll be able to drive change successfully,’’ he says.

Richard believes that it is not natural resources that help countries achieve economic growth, but the collective capabilities of the individuals in that specific country.

Entrepreneurship, Richard says, shouldn’t be viewed only within the context of making profits, especially in a continent that is grappling with economic, social, academic and even environmental challenges.

‘‘There’s an African proverb that says, do not allow your belly to make you useless. To realise our sustainable development goals, young entrepreneurs must expand their definition of entrepreneurship and develop solutions that address our problems as a continent,’’ Dr Munang says.

“To keep your vision from being eclipsed by other people’s dreams, be clear about what you hope to achieve and pursue it to the end,” he proposes.