In the next several years, the entrepreneurship landscape will have a compounded change on the one that has already occurred because of coronavirus. To meet the startup challenges of the future, entrepreneurs will have to seek more than content. Content used to be king, but now it’s a commodity. The accelerated digitalisation has made access to content, even business content, democratised so much so that one can attend business school or gain entrepreneurial knowledge without enrolling to an institution. Entrepreneurs, then, have an opportunity to learn and execute as fast as possible.
But the changed business landscape only illuminates the skills deficit in entrepreneurs, and point out the much needed skills for the next generation of entrepreneurs. If you are wondering what to do next in this situation, here are four pointers we have identified at AVODA Institute of Entrepreneurship.
To match the skills deficit for post covid entrepreneurship, the entrepreneur will have to posses a mindset of an integrated skills portfolio, a healthy balance between business knowledge and practicality, creating business value, and contextual lifelong learning.
1. Integrated skills portfolio
In a 2019 survey of 3,500 managers it was reported that only 29% of new hires have all the skills required for their current roles, let alone for future ones. The research finds that in key functions such as finance, IT, and sales, positions filled today will require up to 10 new skills within 18 months. (Harvard Business Review, March – April, 2021).
While many people are learning, perhaps at an increased pace, it is still possible that there is a skills gap. In a 2014 study, 63% of university graduates in Uganda, the worst performing country, lacked job market skills. The numbers in East Africa varied between 51%-55%. This was contributing to the 60% youth unemployment rate in the East African Community. With the current digital accelerations trends, EdTech, and skilling platforms, hopefully, graduates and entrepreneurs will harness more skills.
2. Healthy balance of business theory and practical ability.
CONTENT has become commodity. COVID-19 accelerated the decentralisation of content thus dealing with the challenges of content access. However, it created an opposite problem in learning. Anyone can access content and educate themselves, but there is more to learning than digital content consumption – learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the blended model or “Hybrid learning models combining digital and in-person course delivery and other campus experiences are becoming a critical area of focus.”
An individual may be able to acquire hard skills like coding in isolation but he will need to acquire the soft-skill of collaboration in a network of entrepreneurs while facing the same challenges in a group setting. This is why a hybrid model or blended learning – both online & onsite – is the best way to get the best of both worlds. To prepare to meet the challenges of both soft and hard skills. Some of the integrated skills will encompass digital knowhow and relational or collaborative activity.
Before COVID, digital was associated with isolation. But throughout 2020, digital skills became not just an acceptable way of collaborating but a required one.
Some of the most amazing experiences are “on-the-field” training, that is, an entrepreneur learns as they apply the concepts learnt to business situations or at the very least, local case studies. I don’t remember who he was quoting, but my Education Psychology college professor Charles Mugasha once said, “Learning is what is left when one is out of school”. The best way to keep entrepreneurs and students in general “out of school” as much as possible even while they are still in training is to have them practically engaged, a curriculum design that focuses on both breadth of practicality and depth of theory.
3. Seek to create business value
One of the biggest struggle for local entrepreneurs is defining the business value they are offering, communicating that value, and navigating the process of capturing value in the process of sales management (value exchange). You have had the question: What problem are you solving? How are you solving it in a way that no one else can? A better way to ask this question is how AVODA asks: what value are you creating (product, process, people)? How are you creating the value in a way that is totally differentiated from others in the economy? How are you communicating your value to the people who need them? How do these people exchange value with you in the process of acquiring your value?
The AVODA Program, developed with a global team to fit the local context, is carefully divided into incremental process of Value Creation, Value Communication, and Value Capture. Download the program guide brochure. For entrepreneurship to be sustainable and transformational, we believe the next generation of business leaders will seek better (and global value), communicate better with stakeholders, and demonstrate that they can capture enough value for themselves.
4. Contextual lifelong learning
Think Long term. In the recovery period and possibly for the future, life-long learning will be a model being adopted by many institutions of learning as well as platforms. What is it? For the platforms, it’s basically access to the platform & content at no extra cost. Some platforms like Quantic School of Business & Entrepreneurship go as far as offering you any other new content for free. For the entrepreneur, embracing the concept of lifelong learning is critical to lifelong growth. For institutions, it is providing robust content+ (content plus network, content plus access to future content at a subsidised cost, etc).
For the learner, you may not learn everything about accounting immediately, but you learn what you need as necessity arises. You may also use your learning partially to address areas of growth that you need to take on a new position or a new role in your organisation. And guess what? You don’t have to enroll every time. Models include offering courses for longer, say 5 years, to fit in an entrepreneurs busy schedule.
However, lifelong learning will take shape better when there are communities around content. Two particular communities are critical towards lifelong learning: Mentorship Relationships and Peer Groups. The former focuses on gaining experiences that you haven’t lived long enough to accumulate, the latter on experiences that are common among people you share a path with.
No matter how much knowledgeable one is, there are pieces of information that only bring the ”Aha” moments when an experienced person puts his or her touch to it. This is the same with your peer networks. When you think you are struggling alone in a certain entrepreneurial area, it is comforting to know that you are not alone. It is even much more encouraging to know that you can collaborate on a solution with a peer.
So What next?
The “Next-Gen” entrepreneur will now be a person who has a large skills portfolio, is focused on relentless value creation, knows stuff and does stuff, and is defiantly a learner. There are many incubators, accelerators, business schools, and other entrepreneur training organizations and platforms out there.
Joshua AgonyaMarketing Director At AVODA Group
Marketing Director of AVODA Group. Also a founder of multiple businesses in different sectors. He has consulted several international companies on multiple projects.