26 March 2021

To be successful with a startup you have to be entrepreneurial

David HAYES, expert professor in entrepreneurship and innovation at Africa Business School

For Dr. David Hayes, to become an entrepreneur means to be entrepreneurial in your career no matter what your job is. The Professor in entrepreneurship and innovation at Africa Business School explains in this interview how to be successful with a startup.

What definition would you give to the organizational concept “Startup”?
We have a lot of people that want to become entrepreneurs and launch their companies. Startups usually mean starting/launching your own company to provide an income for yourself. Those companies take different forms. The company can be a regular startup like a hair salon or a restaurant, and those are companies that can provide income and eventually help you provide for yourself.
That is the vast majority of startups in Morocco are at that level where most of them are not regional, national, or global companies. Only 10% of Moroccan companies have, what we call, a high-growth potential, meaning companies that have the potential to grow big and can become a national company (such as MARWA) or that can become an international company like OCP, a large international company that started somehow a 100 years ago as a small company and grew big.
We have regular startups like the majority we have in Morocco. We have high-growth high-scalable startups that have the potential to become big, we also have social startups and these are companies that are formed to make an impact on society, they are formed to not necessarily make somebody a lot of wealth but they are formed to help solve a problem for somebody else, it may be to provide clean water, education, it could be any of the UN’s sustainable goals, STGS, that we would look at to start a social startup. You know they say make a living for yourself but at the same time help somebody else.
These are usually the forms that startups take but I would make a case that we add a 4th type and that is being an intrapreneur for a large company. So, you could be an entrepreneur that goes to work for a large company, that helps them be more innovative more creative, we call that intrapreneur. And what you find is that startups are important and to help startups form and grow is an important task that we can have maybe with a university, with the government with NGOs. We have a lot of those in Morocco, that make the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

In your opinion, what would be the levers to be activated to generate a positive dynamic that would promote the establishment of an effective and sustainable ecosystem for young innovative Moroccan entrepreneurs?
What we find in Morocco is we have a lot of organizations involved, trying to help and educate startups to occur. But the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor which is sort of the annual report produced on startups activities within a country, within Globally and Morocco participates In it, you will find that what they say about our ecosystem for startups is: it is very fragmented and it’s not aligned, so you will see a lot of activity for training, we have a lot of those within UM6P that do well: we have “YOUFOUNDERS”, we have “Lead tech”, we have soon an accelerator, we have education at UM6P and ABS. Because I provide a lot of that education that deals with what is entrepreneurship, how can you become more involved? But I spend a lot of my time speaking about how to become entrepreneurial, it means being an entrepreneur in your career no matter what your job is. So, you go to work for a big company, you can be entrepreneurial, you can be the innovator, you can be the creator, you can be a freelancer and that’s also being entrepreneurial, and which by the way, what we call the 21st-century workforce skills, to be ready to participate in the new workforce we have to be entrepreneurial. So, I sort of say to be successful with a startup you have to be entrepreneurial; to be successful in your career no matter where you work now you have to be entrepreneurial; meaning you have to have certain skills: coming up with good ideas, executing those ideas, having a vision for the future, having confidence, knowing how to work in teams, sounds familiar right, because these are all the skills required to be an entrepreneur, but these also are all the skills required from all of us, no matter our current position these are the skills that will make us most successful in the future.

What are the skills required to create a startup?
There is another side that we miss though, there is the preparation of a person to become an entrepreneur: do they have the mindset too? So, there are two sides; what we call the science of the technicalities or the art and mindset side. Are you prepared for the entrepreneurial journey? Do you have the necessary self-confidence? The self-efficacy? Can we think about what your personality is like and help align you to the best opportunity that matches it? We are doing a lot of work now, particularly at ABS, with mindset training, one of the courses in the Online MBA we are launching in May is called Open-Mindset or you may call it Growth-Mindset, or I may call it Entrepreneurial Mindset; All MBAs students, whether they’re planning on starting their own companies or not will go through mindset training and the reason behind that is that we want MBA students to be better prepared for their work journey and MBA journey.
You will see that we have quite a bit of training throughout UM6P and ABS, we have training at the MBA level, we also have quite a few trainings in UM6P for hospitality management students, we have the open-minds program that is going on, the “beyond” program, some of the masters we are working on right now, will prove the mindset training in addition to the technical side, the tools, so once you have the mindset how can you assess the opportunity, decide if it is a good opportunity for you. In other words, does it match customer needs? Then if you are convinced it does, what are the processes that you have to go through now to start that as a new company?

To be successful with a startup you have to be entrepreneurial - Africa Business School