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Being an entrepreneur means developing a business while assuming autonomy and innovation while facing uncertainty and risk. It is the ability to see an opportunity and make necessary actions to ensure achievement and success. But, there is no one single uniform definition for entrepreneurship. For over 200 years, researchers tried to introduce theories to feature one profile to present the characteristics of an entrepreneur, through suggesting types, characteristics, attributes, and behaviors, but they failed to give such defined description. The result ended by an answer that there is no stereotypical model but a relationship between the individual and the business establishment and management. For every individual entrepreneur there are a set of behavioral characteristics that drove them to start their own business, and situations and reasons that made them take such steps. Until know, new characteristics are continually being added to an ever-growing list of entrepreneurship characteristics and attributes. Considering the major drastic growth rate of businesses owned by women (Economics & Statistics Administration, 2010), through this essay I will analysis the personality of a young female entrepreneur from Bahrain; her name is Ms.Shahrazad Al-Sa'ati that started a new business enterprise with a complete passion and devotion. She is the founder of the first Middle Eastern "Khaliji Shopping Guide" blog and the designer of her own fashion line called "Shafafy".
Ms.Shahrazad was born on October 25th, 1991; she lived in a small neighborhood in the capital Manama. She was raised in a middle class large family of six siblings; five girls and one boy. Surrounded with female oriented environment influences of a mother, five sisters, and aunties, fashion was an important aspect in Ms. Shahrazad's childhood. She used to close her eyes and imagine outfits that she would like to wear. Her love to fashion was a part of which she was from her very first steps, even her hobbies were linked to fashion. She use to play dress up and dreamt of having an enormous closet full of clothes and accessorize. As she grew up, she mentioned that there was always peer pressure from friends to always be in the best image. These factors lead her to have high self-confidence in herself as a female and always be at her best look (Baumback 1979, Welsh and White 1981, Hornaday 1982, Koh 1996). Her family influences also taught her to always try her best in every aspect in her life and to never give up on anything that she believes in. She was also brought up to never judge another, to perceive social manners, and human kindness is a must, which made her the balanced open minded individual at present. As she grew into a young lady her hobbies leaned more deeply into the fashion world resulted into a love of traveling to different countries and exploring new young designers, showing her adventurous characteristics in willing to go anywhere just to discovery.
The reason of starting her own business in the fashion industry was a long term overdue decision/intention (Ajzen 1991) and a clear goal (Hornaday 1982) since young. Ms.Shahrazad was determined to achieve her dream, but she wanted to pursue an educational qualification at first. She is a certified Foundations in Accountancy (FIA), as self-employed individuals appear to have higher level of education and qualification (Daly 1991, Meager 1991). She states and believes that to be excessive and add more value to any business whatever additional education is needed. Her high determination, (Hornaday 1982, Timmons el al. 1985, Gibb 1990), to persist on her education shows her true willpower towards her business dream, having will power is what she believes to be the key point of being a successful entrepreneur. The idea of working hard, putting effort and producing money for someone else, was a confusing and undesirable thought to Ms.Shahrazad. Showing her high demand for autonomy, independence and deregulation (Gibb 1996, Bolton 1971, Caird 1991, Cromie and O'Donoghue 1992), she refuses to be hired in a restricted organization and preferred to start her own venture free with no rules and restrictions that might limit her ambitions toward her devotion to fashion. Reflecting traits that these authors suggested as what makes an entrepreneur a different individual from the rest of the society. Additionally, her youth contributes to such rebellion attitude.
In 2011, Ms.Shahrazad saw an opportunity and the need in the market to introduce her own concept toward fashion, specifically in November. At first she introduced the concept of the first shopping guide blog in the Middle Eastern area. Such step shows mixture traits of her personality, the idea showed creativity (Hornaday 1982, Timmons 1989, Whiting 1988), innovation (Schumpeter 1934, Drucker 1997), and risk-taking (Gibb 1990, Koh 1996), as risk taking is believed as a classical economic theory. Also, it shows the link of her creativity and handling uncertainty taken to introduce the business (Ho and Koh 1992) .Taking into consideration the chances of the Middle Eastern audience that are still new to the concept of having bloggers, and now a shopping guide blog. However, Ms.Shahrazad was in total commitment (Hornaday 1982, Timmons et al. 1985) to reveal her vision and experience in fashion. The idea of the shopping guide blog was mainly out of her love to fashion and shopping, but also she realized that she have been for years collecting insider shopping information, which shows resourcefulness (Morris 1975, Hornaday 1982). So she started blogging about designers, gave advice and reviewed products, especially ones that are not available in the Middle East, and showed how to purchase them online. She had a vision that was well communicated, inspired, lead (Gibb 1990), and motivated people to accept new changed ways in delivering and informing (Wickham 1998:34). Additionally, she also supported local Bahraini businesses, by reviewing their products and marketing them. Such emphasis and care toward the local business, shows her interest, motivating and encouraging behavior (Welsh and White 1981).
Her aim of presenting herself to the market was not for wealth creation, as her first step was a blog that made no profit at all. Her passion and creativity was the driver for such step, she wanted to show her imaginative and innovatory work (Bolton and Thompson 2000), which also shows her need for high achievement (N-Ach) (McClelland 1961). She is motivated, individually responsible, took moderate risk, and predicted the result of her decisions. Such traits are for those entrepreneurs who have strong desire to be successful and achieve, as I quote her "I'll go as far as success takes me", by exercising extensive effort and persist in facing any problem or challenge. Next she started a section in her blog selling unique limited edition products through her website, starting of her prospecting profit (Hornaday 1982). Such tolerance and patience (Timmons et al. 1985) to proof her vision and to stand out in the market regardless if there will be any financial rewards.
Than her big next step was her introduction to her fashion line Shafafy a few months later, using her own funding. She started by introducing clutch line with a twisted edge that reflected her own style. The opportunity to give the customers what they want and need, the experience she gained from the blog and the fan base; responsiveness, seeking and using her customer's feedback and suggestions (Hornaday 1982, Timmons et al. 1985), she achieved what made it time to introduce the fashion line. Her joy of creation, self-confidence and self-belief that she can deliver what customers needs and achieve her own success, were important keys for her to take further steps into the market. Such trait also suggests another main entrepreneurial personality, locus of control, (Rotter 1966) which basically suggests that achievement of Ms.Shahrazad is linked to her possessing of high internal locus of control (Timmons et al. 1985). Her business idea reached young teenagers and women all around the world, such achievement shows her high intelligence, conceptual ability, integrity, reliability, honesty, and vision to be able to inspire and lead such customer base (Hornaday 1982, Timmons el al. 1985).
The foremost needed skill in Ms.Shahrazad's businesses management is creative thinking, to be able to manage her position on a daily bases. Thinking creatively is the core and basic attribute of any entrepreneur to be able to proof and show their passion and vision in the market (Hornaday 1982, Gibb 1987). The management efficiency of Shafafy line and the blog is based on her time competency management (Hornaday 1982). Ms.Shahrazad is personally responsible (Timmons et al.1985) toward her businesses, so she organizes her daily routine by dividing her time into three parts, she spends her mornings at university, comes back and spends time with her family, and then in the evenings she centers her time on her business and blogging by a committing herself in spending 4-6 hours every single day and carrying a to-do-list, as she states it something she can't go a day without it. Looking at her business process she uses untraditional methods to advertise her products to the customers, methods of using different social media channels such as twitter, instagram, facebook, and her websites. Her whole business is based on creativeness and innovativeness from the start to the end of the business cycle process; advertisement, communications, transactions, deliveries, and feedbacks. Furthermore, she also additional get to market herself by the use of word-of-mouth gained from her fan customer based, showing her ability to get along with people (Welsh and White 1981, Hornaday 1982) her pleasant personality (Hornaday 1982) and good communication skills (Gibb 1987) which is an important attribute to be able to maintain customers and earn new ones. Considering the competition and massive changes in such sector, Ms.Shahrazad keeps herself up-to-date and looking out for new information, trends, styles, businesses, and fashion ventures. By this she is able to spot and capture opportunities early and continuously innovate, in which gives her competitive advantage (Miller 1983). Her love to her business moves her forward to success, showing energy (Hornaday 1982) and hard work (Welsh and White 1981, Gibb 1987). She believes that the secret for a long term success is the time and energy invested in the business, and maintaining her vision and passion as her first priority before money and wealth.
In fashion sector, typically each individual is affected by a certain idols and inspirational fashion icons, example: celebrities, but surprisingly Ms.Shahrazad didn't have any fashion icon that directly affected her sense of style. She thinks that using someone else's style is great but not completely copying the same ideas, but a mixture of some ideas with her own sense of style. She even admires styles and ideas of infamous models, for insistence when she goes out and sees a style that she likes she would go back home and try it one. Such behavior displays her persistence and emphasize of being independent in her own fashion and style (Hornaday 1982).
Challenges that the businesses faced were the constant rapid changes and growth in the market. Ms.Shahrazad faces these challenges by continuously doing market research, presenting her tolerance to ambiguity, uncertainty, and stress (Timmons et al. 1985). Another challenge is the part of coming up with new ideas for the business, as her greatest fear is repetition. Nevertheless, the imagination, creation and innovation (Hornaday 1982) of new ideas is what she finds the most enjoyable part of the whole businesses (Timmons et al. 1985). It motivates her to create and achieve new ideas and thoughts that others failed to achieve. Managing two different businesses at the same time also considers as a challenge and a risk, but she is able to delegate both again by time management and devotion to what she does, showing her flexibility (Hornaday 1982, Gibb 1990, Ward 2005). However, every entrepreneur has made mistakes at some point in their business, so the results of these mistakes taught Ms.Shahrazad many lessons, as an effect she plugged them back into the businesses. Such attitude shows her ability to deal with failure (Timmons el at. 1985), mistakes, and challenges, her courage, and optimism (Hornaday 1982). Additional through the journey the support of her family, which she considers them as her backbone, helps her to face those challenges, obstacles and move forward to higher achievement. To even more proof her strong ability to deal and accept failure and challenges I have asked her a question if she had a chance to start the business all over again would it be different, her simple answer was " Absolutely nothing, I've learned from the challenges that I've come across and I'm very thankful for them.". Ms.Shahrazad believes that she didn't have to make any sacrifices because she is doing what she absolutely loves and can't imagine choosing another path. The most satisfying moment in her journey was being showcased on national television, displaying her true love for her businesses and not any other materialistic objectives. As for the future of the business, Ms.Shahrazad would like to focus on advancing and excelling her ability on doing her current job, and keeping eyes open for any new opportunities within the market.
Each individual business owner has a certain entrepreneur nature (Smith 1967), such as craftsman and opportunistic entrepreneur. Analyzing Ms.Shahrazad personality attributes, and behaviors through developing and managing of her businesses, it states that she is an opportunistic entrepreneur. Individually, she comes from a middle class background, with a broad education in subjects concerning managing her business financials, and starting her businesses was a long run plan and intuition years ago. Additionally, she has high self-confidence in her businesses ideas and plans and the motivation to grow. Such character and traits distinguish it from the craftsman entrepreneur nature. As per the closest type of entrepreneur (Lessem 1986), Ms.Shahrazad is the new designer/enables, because she took her love to fashion and turned it into a new vision and concept, showing evolution and development.
The basic simple definition of entrepreneurship is the process of creating a new value. However, there are no uniform profile set of descriptions of how should an entrepreneur act. Being an entrepreneur depends on the individual personality and the situation that trigged them into becoming self-employed, so mainly the business itself reflects the founder. Analyzing Ms.Shahrazad individual personality showed how she turned to be such a successful entrepreneur at present. Her choice of opening her businesses was driven from her passion to fashion from a very young age and long run plan of being an independent achieving individual. When she gathered the necessary resources she evaluated the opportunity, took advantage of them, and initiated actions to ensure success. Along the way she subsequently managed her businesses with creativity, innovation, energy, hard working, confidence, support, ability to face challenge, risk, and many more other attributes that helped her accomplish what she always dreamt to do.
Ending the essay by providing some advices Ms.Shahrazad herself believes in and would like to share, which are to get whatever learning needed to help reach your goals, do what you love, and that entrepreneurship has no age.
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Appendix I: Interview
(The interview questions were retrieved from: http://www.quintcareers.com/entrepreneurial_informational-interviewing.html )
I have interviewed Ms.Shahrazad through email communication asking her different questions to be able to analysis her as a today's entrepreneur.
Khaliji Shopping Guide & Shafafy
Entrepreneur name: Shahrazad Al-Sa'ati
Date of birth: 25/10/1991
Country: Kingdom of Bahrain
Qualifications: Certified FIA
Describe your childhood and background.
Ans. I grew up in a small neighborhood in Manama, the Capital of the Kingdom of Bahrain. I come from a large family with 6 siblings, I'm of Persian decent.
Did you have such passion to fashion from your childhood?
Ans. I've always had a passion for fashion; before I had it I'd close my eyes and imagine it.
Did you have any childhood influences? Where there a trigging event as a child that inspired you?
Ans. In general, there were a variety of fashion influences and as a child, you can't ignore the pressures from your peer groups, especially friends of the same sex, and their ideas of what is cool.
What were your childhood hobbies? Current hobbies?
Ans. As a child, I loved playing dress up, dreaming that one day I'd have an enormous wardrobe full of cute clothes and accessories. With time, my hobby has leaned more deeply into the fashion world where I love travelling and exploring young designers in different parts of the world.
How did your family influence you and your businesses?
Ans. I had it drummed into me to always try harder at anything and everything I do which has been great for my career goals which I have achieved and I was also brought up to never judge another which has made me the balance open minded individual which I am today, and also social manners and human kindness is a must
Describe your typical day?
Ans. Realistically, there are only a few limited variations on what one can do on a given day. My day starts by going to morning classes at university, coming back home to my family, and spending the evening blogging and working on my fashion line, Shafafy.
Who are your ideals and greatest inspirations?
Ans. Honestly speaking, I don't have an idol. I think using other people is great. Not for copying completely, but for maybe just taking a few ideas from, and them mixing them with my style. This doesn't even have to be celebrities. When I go out and see someone looking good and wearing something nice or different, I'll go home and try it out
What sparked you to start a new business venture? Where there any specific event that trigged you?
Ans. It wasn't a spark but more of a long overdue decision. I have always wanted to be running my own business since I was young. When the chance came, I simply took it. Working for someone and helping them make money never did make any sense to me.
How did the idea of your businesses come about?
Ans. I saw a need in the market and immediately took it as an opportunity to give the customers what they need.
When did you start your businesses?
Ans. I started my Shopping Blog a year ago and my line, Shafafy, a few months ago.
What interested you to choose this sector?
Ans. Choosing fashion was not a choice, it was passion.
Describe your businesses. Especially, how did the blog help you to introduce your Shafafy line?
Ans. I started the Khaliji Shopping Guide in November 2011. I was inspired to start it because I love to write and I love fashion, but mainly, I love to shop. Also, I realized that I've been collecting a lot of insider shopping info over the years and I was excited to share it with my readers. I started off by writing about products, which are not available in the Middle East, and how they can easily be purchased online. I'm also passionate about supporting local businesses. I thought this would be a great first step toward supporting entrepreneurial enterprise. Along the way, I've continually changed my vision, and now enjoy reviewing products from local and international brands. My fan base and sense of style which was praised by readers helped me introduce my Shafafy line.
Who do you sell to and how to you get customers?
Ans. I sell to young girls and ladies all over the world; my main method of advertising is by using the different Social Media channels available.
What value do your businesses offer? What is your competitive advantage? Why will people buy your products?
Ans. I give people high value products plus a new edge in style and taste.
How do you define success?
Ans. I believe success is something you make. Certainly others can help you, just as others can provide obstacles, but ultimately you make your own success.
How far are you willing to go to succeed?
Ans. As far as success takes me.
In your opinion, what is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Ans. In my opinion, the best way to achieve long-term success is investing time and energy into a business before money.
Is your company profitable?
What has been your most satisfying moment in your businesses?
Ans. Being showcased on National Television.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Ans. I am in the fortunate position where it feels like I have not had to make any sacrifices, as I absolutely love what I do and can't imagine having chosen any other path
How did you build your customer base?
Ans. At the start, I used to the "people who know people" strategy. Later on, I started interacting with customers which helped a lot.
What motivates you?
Ans. I am motivated when I achieve something different, especially when others fail to achieve it.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
Ans. My greatest fear is repetition; I always try to be creative in order to move forward as opposed to moving backwards.
What challenges and risks did you face? How did you overcome them?
Ans. The main challenges and risks I faced as keeping up with the growing market, and I overcame them by continuously doing market research.
What parts of your job do you find most challenging? And what do you find most enjoyable?
Ans. The most difficult part is coming up with new designs, however, I do find this challenge the most enjoyable.
What have been some of your mistakes, and what have you learned from them?
Ans. There have been numerous lessons along the way from which I have learnt. I have in turn ploughed these lessons back into the business as I have evolved.
What kinds of skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
Ans. On a personal level, I think that the main and foremost important skill required is creative thinking.
How do you manage your time?
Ans. At the risk of sounding cliché, I manage my time by keeping a to-do list, I can't go a day without it.
How many hours do you spend working a day on average?
Ans. Balancing between work, family and university. I do spend 4-6 hours a day on my business.
How do you keep yourself up-to-date especially in your business type?
Ans. I'm always on the lookout for new businesses and fashion ventures. This way, I make better decisions by spotting opportunities early on which gives me a competitive advantage.
How do you market your businesses? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Ans. Social Media and Word-Of-Mouth.
Do you receive any support? Who are they?
Ans. My family have been my backbone and have supported me from day one.
How do you generate new ideas? Is there any upcoming new project?
Ans. I always focus entirely on what I want, I design things I'd like to wear myself. I think that's the best way to generate anything new. There are no current upcoming projects in mind.
Are there too many or too few people entering this profession? Is there a high competition?
Ans. In the past couple of years, yes, the competition is fierce.
If you had the chance to start your businesses over again, what would you do differently?
Ans. Absolutely nothing, I've learned from the challenges that I've come across and I'm very thankful for them.
What do you think makes a successful entrepreneur?
Ans. Will power.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Ans. My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is the joy of creation.
What three pieces of advice would you give to individuals that want to become entrepreneurs?
Ans. My first piece of advice is to get whatever additional learning you need from your current workplace, education you actually get paid for. The second would be to keep in mind that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day. The third would be that don't believe that entrepreneurship is only for the young.
Where do you see yourself and your businesses in the next couple of years?
Ans. I don't have a specific plan! I would like to advance. However, I try to focus on doing my current job to the best of my abilities and keep my eyes open for new opportunities within the market.
Appendix II: Illustration of "Khaliji Shopping Guide "and "Shafafy"