University graduates do not need lump sums of money as initial capital to start businesses.
As a matter of fact, the failure of our graduates to develop their ideas into businesses is due to lack of required specialised knowledge and skills and not lack of capital.
It must not take 10 years after acquiring a university qualification to be employed.
Easily, university students can start their own businesses even while on campus or right after national service and will not have to sit down and wait for interviews or white-collar jobs that never come.
Sadly, despite entrepreneurship education is far developed in recent years, most graduates still do not know the forms of capital they need to start successful businesses in Ghana.
Lack of “the how”
To clarify, most graduates in the country will start their own businesses if they know “how”. Unfortunately, due to the lack of “the how”, those who try to; have their plans mostly upside down, thus, the long-term goals are put first; lump sums of money, they cry out loud, even without short or medium-term goals in their plans. Certainly, that is when the long waits begin.
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In actual fact, unless those from rich families, a typical Ghanaian university graduate right after university is surely a starter in life, has no knowledge of any trade, has no collateral security for a loan and owns nothing of fiscal value but university certificates, yet still has the nerves to wait for a lump sum of money to start a business.
Note that apart from a hole in the ground, which we start to dig from the top to bottom, every other work we do, we start from the bottom to the top, including business.
Hence, every graduate must make up their mind to start from the bottom and go up in business just like our seasoned successful entrepreneurs around.
Honestly, no one will give you their money to experiment with in business unless you have demonstrated your capabilities to show that you deserve it.
For example, you should have learnt as much as necessary, experimented enough with your own money and effort, and made all the mistakes as usual to deserve a chance of someone investment in you.
Of course to do that, knowledge capital comes first and that should offer you the understanding of what a business venture is and how to identify risk, manage it and avoid failures.
This knowledge capital which needs to be a specialised one will reveal to you how to create viable business ideas and recognise opportunities as well.
Crucially, students need to educate themselves on these and not come out of universities with only theories, concepts and general knowledge which now have very little space in the 21st Century industry.
With knowledge capital, one will understand industry dynamics and the product or service to offer, the target market, the price that customers will be willing to pay for one’s product and the place to get them and finally reach out to them.
Also, social and network capitals are other resources needed to start a business and made up of the relationships and social connections one has with other members of society.
People you know and relate with remain a vital resource on your way to commercialise your ideas in the market.
More so, from social capital, one can get most of the assets one needs to start a business and can even build a customer base with the same social capital.
In effect, there has never been a generation so lucky like ours; we are privileged with technology and the era of social media, which have brought us so close to markets than ever and in such a way that no one knows the size and number of markets they have access to.
Simply, you just need to generate a new idea, create value and the world will reward you for your effort.
The principle here is that, you get just enough people what they want in life and you also get rewarded with what you want in life.
To add to the above, human capital is also critical and constitutes lots of people available to everyone to engage to do anything humanly possible for wealth creation.
Both educated and non-educated people in every community form a resource and a form of capital to use to start a business.
In fact, it is the use of the mind, ideas, creativity, imagination, innovation and planning with the burning desire to succeed which should be considered paramount rather than money.
Money comes later and the little you need to start should come from your personal savings, which requires self-discipline to do.
Lastly, you should remember to start small and even obtain knowledge, experience and seed money for that from working with and understudying a successful entrepreneur.
The writer is a private consultant in entrepreneurship and business development and an expert in university-industry interaction and knowledge transfer for innovation.