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It is true when Chell et al quotes the problem of identification of an entrepreneur has been confounded by the fact that there is no standard, universally accepted definition of entrepreneurship. No individual is the same, hence there being no one standard explanation for entrepreneurship.
This report will comprise of the analysis of an entrepreneur, A man very dear to me, My Father, Mr. Wasif .A. Wasif. Being creative and innovative is not the only sole purpose of entrepreneurship; rather an individual who can communicate a thought into action is in embedded in it as well. The following report will cover the background of Mr. Wasif, his decision to start up the business and finally the management and development of his new venture.
Mr. Wasif, an Egyptian National born and raised in the Kingdom of Bahrain graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Drawing. As a school student, he took on part time jobs in different types of employment such as Purchasing Assistant, Telephone Operator, Bell boy, Carpenter Assistant and so on. It can be determined that roots of entrepreneurial traits such as hard worker and analytical ability as demonstrated by Gibb (1987) and resourcefulness and flexibility as demonstrated by Hornaday (1982) were established in him at a very early stage of his life.
As a fresh Graduate, his first job was that of a Sales Manager. However, due to change in the headquarters location and management, Mr. Wasif had to resign. Left unemployed for quite a long time, he had decided to shift into a different line of business of Civil Engineering which he had no prior knowledge of. Without any second thoughts, fear or doubt, Mr. Wasif took on the challenge supporting Baumback (1979) theory of an entrepreneur being a challenge taker. He had the desire to learn and was bent on achieving and succeeding in his undertaking as per McClelland (1961).
The company he had received employment in was unknown and unsuccessful but the only company in the region that was engaged in construction and trading during that time. Despite this drawback, his drive to achieve and motivation to excel as per Timmons (1994, p.191) enabled him to gain knowledge in the particular field and through his effort made the company acknowledgeable. However, the felicity did not last for too long, upon reaching the satisfaction of being able to take on this challenge, the company shut down resulting in Mr. Wasif losing his job.
Mr. Wasif faced a lot of difficulties as he was made redundant and his wife was pregnant with his first child. Burdened by the situation and the feeling of failure, he faced the problem of having to start from scratch all over again. Nevertheless, Due to the closing down of the firm he was previously employed in, the country would outsource construction companies. There was a gap in the marketplace and Mr. Wasif had perceived the opportunity for this demand which in accordance to Kirzner (1980) prescribes the opportunity alertness and timing of action element of an entrepreneur.
Hence, the decision to start up his own business was developed. This, however did not come along his way easily as the law of the country restricted him to do so; the law permits only the citizens of the country to set up their own business and being an Egyptian national was a stumbling block in his way. In order to overcome this difficulty, Mr. Wasif originated his business with a Bahraini National who was just a sleeping partner of the firm so as to enable him to obtain a license to commence his operations. Mr. Wasif was the whole and soul of the company. It can be remarked that Mr. Wasif is an individual who is not battered by any hurdle rather it is his positiveness, optimism and self confidence in agreement with Welsh and White (1981) that enables him to proceed and advance to higher levels.
Therefore it can be analyzed that his decision to start up the business is based on the following three theories. "The Unemployment and Recession- Push Theory" according to Binks and Jenning (1986). "You don't know what you have, until it's gone" the cliché quote, however irrelevant to the subject is very true in this case whereby it was only upon losing his job, Mr. Wasif thought of the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. Moreover, the source of his business idea was also influenced through his workplace experiences as he was in involved in the same industry as his previous employment which is in compliance to Super's (1963) theory of career development. And finally demand for such industry in the market after the shutdown of his previous employment business, there was no other firm in the region involved in the same field.
As Timmons (1989: 1) quotes that entrepreneurship is "the ability to create and build something from practically nothing. Is it initiating, doing, achieving, and building an enterprise or organization, rather than just watching, analyzing or describing one. It is the knack for sensing an opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction and confusion". It is this definition of entrepreneurship that best relates to Mr. Wasif whereby the main point of emphasis is that despite being faced with difficulties, he was able to develop an idea and create it without any knowledge gained via education (practically nothing) but from his own hard earned effort and determination.
Overtime, Mr. Wasif had obtained the Bahraini citizenship, and now operates a company of his own under the name " Marimina Construction and Trading". The business consists of importing raw materials according to client specifications and finally construction and installation. Mr. Wasif deals with suppliers across many regions such as the U.K ( Berlite, Mineralite, COLT), Switzerland ( Arsular Mittal) and the Middle East ( Brightstar, TSSC, Rigidal).
According to Carson et al. (1995), the relationship management and ability to maintain networks from his previous job was the key factor that enabled Mr. Wasif to become a profitable venture. He is the one man show of the company who takes charge of the entire operations of the firm. He built the organization with his own funds and without any external source of finance. This coincides with Smith's (1967) theory of a craftsman-entrepreneur because with his limited education he runs his business autocratically refusing to delegate authority and views any external source of credit as a threat to his autonomy. Mr. Wasif quotes " I am my own boss" demonstrating his need for autonomy, independence and in control of everything as per Caird (1991); Cromie and O'Donoghue (1992)
As mentioned earlier, becoming successful was not an easy task for Mr. Wasif. In addition to the difficulties he had to face, Mr. Wasif had to give up a lot of his family time. His wife played a very crucial role in terms of moral support. Taking his newly born baby to his office and working late nights. This illustrates a considerable strain on his personal life "Loneliness of the Entrepreneur". His total commitment, determination and perseverance as per Timmons (1985) characteristics, however, has enabled to reach where is now.
Mr. Wasif relates most to the "New Entrepreneur" type as illustrated by Lessem (1986b) as he had the will to achieve, and took on the opportunity of demand in the market for a construction firm who converted an existing business into a higher performing one via his own company.
The type of entrepreneurial culture that is instilled in the business is that of "Independence, Flexibility & Control" and "Holistic management" as illustrated by Gibb (1987:26). Being the only owner of the business Mr. Wasif, has the freedom to apply any method of operation without any restriction within the limits of the law with the decision making process done solely by him. Moreover, he controls all the functions of the firm, hence enabling him to have an overall knowledge about all the mechanisms and functional activities. Therefore, it could be concluded that the type of venture being managed by him is that of a "Simple Organization" that meets Mintzberg's (1983) requirements which is limited and dependent to the role of the owner, highly adaptive and innovative.
The Kingdom of Bahrain, being a very small island, lacks in the specialization of many different professions. However, Mr. Wasif took on this void and transformed it into an opportunity by bringing in new and innovative construction materials and technologies into the Bahraini region, hence enhancing the efficiency of the country. Moreover, his technique of conducting his operations differ from the other firms for example use of scaffoldings, which specializes him in this line of business. This theory relates most to Deakins (1996) hypothesis of innovation.
As a result, this leads to creating value for his customers. Moreover, his products are as per client specifications thus increasing the proficiency of his business. His level of expertise is not limited to this, Mr. Wasif provides an excellent after sales service and follows up with his customers to obtain feedback for improvements, if any and ensure their satisfaction illustrating his service consciousness meeting Peters (1987) and Hornaday's (1982)theory and attempt to build personal relations with his clients.
In terms of recruitment of labor force, Mr. Wasif ensures to have the best, highly trained professionals recruited through a recruiting agency which had undergone a process of continuous interviews, practical testing, and finally appointment of the highly qualified labor force. The relationship between him and his employees is similar to that of Appell (1984:173) which comprises of respect, trust and equality displaying interest in their needs. Thus, the leadership style imposed by him is that of a transformational leader as illustrated by James MacGregor Burns (1978) rather than a transactional leader. For every project undertaken, a reward system is present. However, this is not limited to only bonuses but stretches out to recognition, responsibilities and promotions as per Hertzberg (1968) which encourages increased commitment, and dedication to the firm. Moreover, resulting in viewing their job through a different perspective which is not a burden, routine source of income rather a profession they enjoy undertaking.
In case of any conflict arises, Mr. Wasif does not avoid it's existence rather tackles it by studying the situation and developing outcomes that are functional as illustrated by Timmons (1999:222) that entrepreneurs are adaptive to conflict resolution.
The relation of there being no standard definition to entrepreneurship can also be linked with respect to risk taking ability of each entrepreneur. According to Miner (1997), in order to avoid any risk Mr. Wasif takes the initiative to preplan his works. For example, Given his line of profession, the risk of injuries and casualties is very high, therefore, he follows the health and safety standards in order to avoid any such circumstances. Nonetheless, he has the ability to plan in advance, manage and mitigate it demonstrating his preference of taking on calculated risks that collaborates with Caird, 1991; Cromie and O'Donoghue, (1992).
As the famous Albert Einstein quotes "Intellectual growth should commence at growth and cease only at death". This is the attitude that persuades Mr. Wasif to go on and not limit himself to a certain area. His innovativeness has lead him to expand his business to different streams such as design, swimming pools, overhead sectional doors, standing seam systems and so on. He is considered as a high growth individual and is categorized as "The Dynast" according to Birley (2000a) since he wants to grow to be able to pass it on to his son. In order to do so, he continues to attend seminars, exhibitions regularly all around the world to increase his publicity.
Over the years, as competition has developed and increased in the region, Mr. Wasif strives to stand out and be the best in the market. To compete, he follows two strategies as demonstrated by Porter (1985). One that of "Low cost leadership" by providing competitive and cheaper prices. Secondly, that of "Differentiation" in his method of transacting his operations such as completion of tasks in shorter periods of time and handling of big projects with limited number of manpower. These strategies enables him to have a competitive advantage over the other firms.
Despite the available competition in the same industry, his company stands to be the best, well known and most recognized business in eyes of both the private and public sector. Under no circumstances he deviates from product quality standards illustrating his consciousness about quality as per Peters (1987) and at the same time he stakes his reputation on the quality of his products which is in accordance to Smith (1967). Today, Mr. Wasif is known as "The King of Cladding" in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Despite being the only firm during that time, He was and still continues to be well known for his very reasonable and economical prices in the market; Providing the best economical prices and products in order to fulfill the needs of his clients. Emphasizing on the fact that money is not the factor that motivates him which relates to McClelland (1961) theory on N-Ach disliking to be in a monopolistic situation.
From the above analysis it can be extracted that Mr. Wasif uses his "Left brain" according to Sperry (1968); Ornstein (1977) as he analytical, logical and mathematical because of his line of business. Furthermore, he is goal oriented since he sets his goals and persuades achievement.
Whilst conducting the interview with Mr.Wasif, it was observed that the following two quotes from successful entrepreneurs best suited him.
"I had to make my own living and my own opportunity! But I made it! Don't sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them!" quoted Madam C.J. Walker, creator of beauty products and the first female self-made millionaire. Mr. Wasif is an entrepreneur instilled with a mission, drive to succeed and hard working abilities. His strive towards excellence, dedication and commitment to his career has lead him to where he currently is. He is an individual who does not wait for the opportunity to walk towards him rather he'd chase it and give it his best efforts.
"To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart." quoted Thomas J. Watson. Mr. Wasif has a high level of loyalty towards his customers and dedicates his heart and mind to his work. He receives the most prestigious and landmark projects. Until this day and forward, he continues to be a very successful entrepreneur and has a branded image in the market.
The British School of the Classical Economists approach of the role of the entrepreneur by Adam Smith (1723-90) and David Ricardo (1772-1823) quotes that "the entrepreneur has the inclination, technical knowledge and the capital power to create wealth" . To conclude, Mr. Wasif is a man with perspective that roots in him the cream roles resumed in a founder i.e. an entrepreneur, manager and functional individual as demonstrated by Chandler and Jansen (1992).
The following is an interview between entrepreneur, Mr. Wasif and I which was conducted over the telephone.
Background of the entrepreneur
What did you study?
I graduated with a degree in Mechanical drawing & Engineering.
Did you undertake any part time jobs while studying?
During my school holidays, I worked as a bell boy, telephone operator, carpenter assistant, plumber assistant, JCB operator, Purchasing Assistant.
What was your first job?
After I graduated, I got a job as a Sales Manager, but because of the company resulting in changing their headquarters location to the UAE, I had to resign.
the decision to start-up the business
What was your triggering event that made you decide to establish your business?
My hardships started from here because I could not find a job so I decided to change my line of specialization which was Civil Engineering. I had no clue about this field. I got a job in a company that was not very successful . I worked very hard to promote the business. However, due to management disputes, the company shut down and I lost my job. My wife was pregnant by then and I felt like a failure then. That's when the decision to start up my business came up. After the shutdown of the company, there was no other firm engaged in the same field. Therefore, I took the opportunity and decided to start up my business.
Were there any difficulties you faced to start up?
Yes, Since I was an Egyptian national, the country's law does not allow any nationality except for Bahraini's to set up their own company.
How did you overcome this difficulty?
I opened up my business with the help of a Bahraini citizen but I was the soul of the business and invested all my money into the business. Eventually when I got the Bahraini citizenship, I opened up the business under my own name named " Marimina Construction and Trading.
What is your business?
I import construction raw materials from different countries as per client requirements and install and construct them.
Did you receive support to start up your business?
Yes, My wife provided me with a lot of moral support and was there by my side even during the hard times and never gave up on me.
Did you sacrifice anything in order to achieve your goal?
Yes, I had to give up a lot of my family time, work late nights in order to reach where I am now.
the subsequent management and development of the new venture (E.g. Craftsman, Opportunistic entrepreneur)
What was your method of recruitment?
I recruited my staff via advertisements and through a recruiting agency. Each employee had undergone a thorough process of interviews, testing in construction sites in order to appoint the best labor force.
If any problem arises, how do you resolve it?
I study the matter thoroughly and solve it, I do not run away from my problem rather I tackle them and ensure I overcome the issue.
How do you adjust for risk?
I always preplan my work in order to avoid any risk.
Do you have any reward system for your employees?
Yes, for every project I provide bonuses and I appreciate good work by recognizing the employee and promoting them.
Who makes the decisions of the firm? and how?
"I am my own boss". I make the decisions of the company. I study the matter well, evaluate it and then decide. I'd rather take my time to make my final decision to minimize the possibility of any risk and ensure the right choice has been made.
Do you consider money as an important factor for achievement?
No, My company sells the most cheapest products. What matters to me the most, that I've achieved my goals and become successful. Moreover, the most important thing for me is the quality and my customers satisfaction.
Do you wish to expand your business?
Yes, I have already expanded into different sectors and I wish to pass on my business to the next generation.
Kirby, D. (2002) Entrepreneurship, London; McGraw Hill