South Africa: Budding Entrepreneurs - Business Schools Must Pinpoint the Few Who Will Succeed


There can be no doubt that start-ups can regenerate economies and create jobs, but it must also be conceded that not every would-be entrepreneur should actually pursue that idea. With unemployment at its worst since 2008, it is time to try a new approach to selecting and supporting entrepreneurs.

As uncomfortable as it may be, there are some hard truths about entrepreneurship that we are going to have to come to terms with.

Chief among these is that while many are called into entrepreneurship, not every entrepreneur will succeed in creating wealth and jobs, either through the novel combination of resources, in the form of innovation, or through more effective combinations of supply and demand which leads to increased competition. That, as statistics from around the world bear out, is incontrovertible.

The failure rate among nascent and early-stage venturing efforts ranges between 50% and 90% over a period of three to five years. That applies as much to entrepreneurs in the developed world as it does to those labouring in developing world contexts.

According to one study in the US, as many as 75% of venture capital-backed start-ups fail - meaning their businesses collapsed despite having initial funding, vaunted by...

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