OUR OBSESSION WITH ENTREPRENEURS
On our newsfeeds, it is far too common to see inspirational quotes plastered on a picture of a famous entrepreneur being passed off as a motivational post. Their every move, what they wear and how many books they read per year is analysed and outlined for us — after all, they represent a modern day fairy tale.
Entrepreneurs have turned their fortune around with their own merit and everyone loves a good rags to riches story. We must appreciate that the most successful entrepreneurs have shaped the way we live today and that entrepreneurs are being rewarded for the great risks they took.
Although the rags to riches narrative is often glamourised, research has shown that a startling number of entrepreneurs already come from privileged backgrounds. According to The Guardian, 35 percent of entrepreneurs use their own funds to start businesses while 15 percent use cash from their family and friends.
Entrepreneurs as people are idolised, with people often overlooking their wrongdoings. Their accomplishments shouldn’t cloud our judgement when many of them are repeatedly accused of stealing data or turning a blind eye to how people are misusing their products.
The task of starting a new business relies a lot on how you sell your idea and, more importantly, how you sell yourself. Take the case of “Colours”, a company that designed a location based photo-sharing app that raised USD 41 million even before having its product ready, only to fail massively and shut down. Founder Bill Nguyen has a track record for starting a string of companies that exist briefly, but make money in the short run.
Famously in the case of “Theranos”, 19-year-old Stanford dropout Elizabeth Holmes was lauded by the media and Silicon Valley as the “female Steve Jobs” for breakthrough medical technology and raised USD 700 million only to be exposed as an “elaborate fraud” and having to face trials in 2020.
Perhaps a question we have to answer is, if we do not idolise entrepreneurs, what other role models are there for us to look up to? We are simply not told enough stories about people beyond actors, athletes or businesspeople. Perhaps this phenomenon also ties in to the emerging start-up culture in Dhaka where this may lead some people to idolise those who played this field best.
Most risks don’t pay off, as according to Forbes, 90 percent of start-ups fail. But companies also do not have to answer for their success and that is something most people are aware of. Speaking about the thrill of entrepreneurship, Nguyen said, “It’s totally the lottery. But it’s better than the lottery because you get to do something about it. It’s cool! You’re the one rigging the machine and telling people what the numbers are.” The role of entrepreneurs clearly must extend beyond simply writing “CEO” or “entrepreneur” in one’s bio.
Mrittika Anan Rahman is a daydreamer trying hard not to run into things while walking. Find her at [email protected]