VUSSC/Mauritius BC/Entrepreneurship StartingYourOwnBusiness Unit1 Final

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Starting Your Own Business </center>
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A Self-Study Guide for Small Business Entrepreneurs </center>
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The The Commonwealth of Learning Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC) wishes to thank those below for their contribution to this study manual:

Cheryl Evans, Senior Lecturer, St Vincent and Grenadines Community College
St Vincent and the Grenadines Caribbean
Samuelu Faalafi, Senior Lecturer,Institute of Technology, National University of Samoa
Samoa Islands, South Pacific
Stanley Modesto, Manager, Vocational Programmes, BOCODOL
Botswana, Africa
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Malta, Mediterranean
Sandhya Gunness, Instructional Designer ,Virtual Centre for Innovative Learning Technologies, University of Mauritius
Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Vimi Ghoorah, Small Enterprises and Handicraft Development Authority
Mauritius, Indian Ocean
Brinda Mahadeo, Lecturer, University of Technology of Mauritius (UTM)
Mauritius, Indian Ocean

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How this study manual is structured1

Course overview3

Welcome to Starting Your Own Business: A Self-Study Guide for Small Business Entrepreneurs3

Starting Your Own Business: A Self-Study Guide for Small Business Entrepreneurs—is this course for you?3

Course aims4

Course outcomes4


Study skills5

Need help?6



Getting around this study manual8

Margin icons8

Unit 19

Is Entrepreneurship for You?9


So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur10

Characteristics of Entrepreneurs 11

What Does it Take to Be an Entrepreneur? 16

Why Do You Want to Be an Entrepreneur?16

Entrepreneurial Business Skills 18

Entrepreneurship – Advantages and Disadvantages23

Unit summary25= About this study manual = Starting Your Own Business: A Self-Study Guide for Small Business Entrepreneurs has been produced by The Commonwealth of Learning. All study manuals produced by The Commonwealth of Learning are structured in the same way, as outlined below.


How this study manual is structured

The course overview

The course overview gives you a general introduction to the course. Information contained in the course overview will help you determine:

  • If the course is suitable for you.
  • What you will already need to know.
  • What you can expect from the course.
  • How much time you will need to invest to complete the course.

The overview also provides guidance on:

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We strongly recommend that you read the overview carefully before starting your study.

The course content

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For those interested in learning more on this subject, we provide you with a list of additional resources at the end of this study manual; these may be books, articles or web sites.

Your comments

An Evaluation Form is included at the end of this study manual. This is your chance to give us feedback on any aspect of the course content and structure. Your constructive feedback will help us to evaluate this course and make enhancements where necessary.

Course overview

See Richard Freeman’s handbook, section 3.3: Setting aims and objectives for your course.Welcome to Starting Your Own Business: A Self-Study Guide for Small Business Entrepreneurs

Welcome to Starting Your Own Business. You have made a wise decision to embark on this course, and we are certain that what you will learn will help you start up your own business.

Any aspiring business person has to come to terms with basic concepts associated with a business. Throughout this course, we intend to discuss concepts like 'entrepreneurship', 'entrepreneur', 'enterprise', 'the business idea', and factors that influence your intention to start up a business.

While preparing the contents for this course, we took special measures to ensure that you would be able to relate to the different concepts introduced. In addition, we have kept the language as simple as possible to ensure clear understanding of the content. The activities that have been integrated throughout the units will enable you to gradually and systematically gather information and the right 'ingredients' to be able to write up your business plan: the most important tool that will support your efforts to start up your own small business.

Starting Your Own Business: A Self-Study Guide for Small Business Entrepreneurs—is this course for you?

The contents of the Starting Your Own Business course have been written for:

  1. anyone who wishes to start their own business;
  2. anyone who already owns a small business, but would like to grow it while learning more about the planning process and the business aspects fundamental to sustainable growth, such as marketing, customer care, financial management etc.;
  3. any pre-university learner or mature learner who would like to get a formal introduction to entrepreneurship and business planning.

Course aims

The aim of this course is:

  1. To assist you to assess whether or not entrepreneurship is for you.
  2. To create awareness of the entire process of starting up a small business.
  3. To enable you to acquire competence in strategic business planning prior to starting up a small enterprise.
  4. To create awareness to the importance of business planning, market research and knowledge for the successful entrepreneur.
  5. To assist small business owners in growing their businesses in a systematic, planned manner.
  6. To foster learners’ personal growth and encourage continuing professional development.

Use taxonomy verbs. See Richard Freeman’s handbook, section 3.3.3: Bloom’s taxonomy, section 3.3.4: Other taxonomies, section 3.3.5 Learning objectives and learning outcomes.Course outcomes

Upon completion of Starting Your Own Business: A Self-Study Guide for Small Business Entrepreneurs you will be able to:

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* Self-assess your individual characteristics in relation to the requirements of entrepreneurship and determine if you are prepared to become an entrepreneur.
  • Create an effective business plan for your small business idea.
  • Implement the different stages of strategic business planning, including research about the legal requirements for launching a small business and devise record-keeping strategies to meet your country‚Äôs legal requirements.
  • Compare the potential of different business ideas.
  • Perform SWOT analyses and apply them to your competitors, your own business and even yourself.
  • Analyse the local environment for designing marketing strategies that will lead to financial sustainability of your own small business.

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Study skills

As an adult learner your approach to learning will be different to that from your school days: you will choose what you want to study, you will have professional and/or personal motivation for doing so and you will most likely be fitting your study activities around other professional or domestic responsibilities.

Essentially you will be taking control of your learning environment. As a consequence, you will need to consider performance issues related to time management, goal setting, stress management, etc. Perhaps you will also need to reacquaint yourself in areas such as essay planning, coping with exams and using the web as a learning resource.

Your most significant considerations will be time and space i.e. the time you dedicate to your learning and the environment in which you engage in that learning.

We recommend that you take time now—before starting your self-study—to familiarize yourself with these issues. There are a number of excellent resources on the web. A few suggested links are:

The “How to study” web site is dedicated to study skills resources. You will find links to study preparation (a list of nine essentials for a good study place), taking notes, strategies for reading text books, using reference sources, test anxiety.

This is the web site of the Virginia Tech, Division of Student Affairs. You will find links to time scheduling (including a “where does time go?” link), a study skill checklist, basic concentration techniques, control of the study environment, note taking, how to read essays for analysis, memory skills (“remembering”).

Another “How to study” web site with useful links to time management, efficient reading, questioning/listening/observing skills, getting the most out of doing (“hands-on” learning), memory building, tips for staying motivated, developing a learning plan.

The above links are our suggestions to start you on your way. At the time of writing these web links were active. If you want to look for more go to and type “self-study basics”, “self-study tips”, “self-study skills” or similar.

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Getting around this study manual

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Unit 1

'ÔÄ¥Remember to use taxonomy verbs for the outcomes! (See help text in Course outcomes, page 4.)'Is Entrepreneurship for You?


Welcome to Starting Your Own Business! You decided to take this course because you want to become an entrepreneur. This means you want to start and run your own business in your community. You may already have a great business idea… or not… but you know you want to work for yourself, follow your own ideas and be independent. You may also have aspirations to grow your business and provide employment opportunities in your own community.

Whereas the idea of entrepreneurship may sound exciting, it may not necessarily be for everyone. There are number of questions you need to ask yourself to determine whether or not you should go ahead with your great idea. In this Unit you will explore what it takes to be an entrepreneur and the personal characteristics that are important for entrepreneurs to succeed.

Upon completion of this unit you will be able to:

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* Explain how entrepreneurship can impact your life and the life of your family.
  • Identify key personal characteristics that are fundamental to becoming a successful entrepreneur.
  • Assess your own personal characteristics as they relate to successful entrepreneurship.
  • Identify key entrepreneurial skills that are fundamental to successful entrepreneurship.
  • Describe your own entrepreneurial skills and strategies for complementing the skill set necessary for successful entrepreneurship and business sustainability.

So You Want To Be An Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. In order to succeed, entrepreneurs must have, or they must develop, very specific characteristics. Let’s look into these characteristics a bit further. But first, let’s see if you think you are an entrepreneur!

Take a look at the following personal characteristics and reflect on whether or not you posses some or all of them. As you go along, make a tick on the column that you think best describes yourself in regard to each characteristic.
Personal Characteristics

Never 50% of the times Almost always Always
I am self confident
I like to take moderate risks
I am very independent and like to show initiative
I am a very organised individual
I have a desire to set and achieve goals
I am good at working flexible, long hours
I enjoy finding the best solutions for problems
I am a very positive individual
I take responsibility for all my decisions
I can learn from past experiences and welcome feedback and advice from others
I have the self-discipline to work on my own
I have a clear vision of the goals I want to achieve in my life
I look at all the tasks I have to undertake with a positive attitude
I am comfortable prioritising my working tasks each day
I am an adventurous kind of person. I like to start new ventures, activities, etc.

Well done! Some entrepreneurial characteristics reflect your personality and your way of thinking and behaving. In other words, you are born with them. But keep in mind that personal characteristics are rarely permanent. Individuals change and grow with many different influences, including how our own environment, culture, education, interests, etc., impact us. You may certainly think that you have different characteristics now than when you were a teenager, for example. ÔÅä

Other characteristics are definitely learnable. You may already have many characteristics that are necessary to become a successful entrepreneur. You may also want to strengthen the characteristics that you feel you are weak in and, there may be other characteristics that you know you will never develop. Keep exploring your entrepreneurial characteristics throughout this program, and start with believing that becoming an entrepreneur is absolutely possible!

The important thing is for you to be self-aware and develop a keen sense of self: know your strengths and your weaknesses and think ahead of ways to address your weaknesses.

For example, if you are not a very organised individual, maybe you can take a course in time and task management, or you may plan to hire somebody who can support you with day-to-day organisation of your business.

Let’s now take a look at the common characteristics that make up a successful entrepreneur.

Characteristics of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are innovative; and as a result, are always able to see possibilities which would not be normally seen by ordinary persons. They have a strong desire to succeed; and so, it is often quite common for entrepreneurs to fail at several initial enterprises before finally achieving their goals and desires. Also, entrepreneurs have the capacity to work long hours, ensuring that their business ideas are fully developed rather than, take holidays and time off from their businesses.

Some of the personal characteristics that make entrepreneurs successful include:

  • A high need to achieve their goals, coupled with a high degree of self-confidence.
  • Being prepared to take moderate risks.
  • Resilience, being able to take ‚Äúno‚Äù for an answer without giving up
  • Having initiative and independence.
  • Possessing leadership and organisational skills.
  • Seeking creative solutions to problems.
  • Having a positive outlook.
  • Taking responsibility for decisions.
  • Having a clear vision of goals.
  • Having a positive attitude to tasks.
  • Being enterprising (recognising business opportunities).

Now look at the table below and reflect on some of the qualities that help people to better understand themselves as entrepreneurs.

Passionate about their work Entrepreneurs will view the business as labor of love instead of just "work". In addition to that, successful entrepreneurs have self-determination. Thus, the passion and self-determination will drive entrepreneurs to be persistent in building their organization/company.
Clear vision Having a clear vision of the goals to be achieved is fundamental to drive entrepreneurs and extremely important for the whole company. This vision must be flexible and adjusted continuously as the company matures and new opportunities arise. All of this requires entrepreneurs to have a creative imagination in order to recognize business opportunities and envision alternative scenarios as they face the many challenges of starting up an enterprise.
S.M.A.R.T. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting guides successful entrepreneurs. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting means that your goals are:
  • Specific: Are your goals precise, detailed and unambiguous?
  • Measurable: How will you measure it? Goals can be measurable by quality, quantity and cost.
  • Achievable: Is it achievable? Although goals should be a stretch to the team‚Äôs capabilities, they must be within reach and realistic.
  • Relevant: Does it contribute to the goals and strategies of the team? Should focus on practical results to be achieved.
  • Timebound: when will this goal be complete? Is the completion data realistic?

Using the SMART acronym in goal setting helps entrepreneurs think carefully about the process of goal setting for their business.

Resilience Becoming an entrepreneur is not easy. There will be great, exhilarating moments, but there will also be moments of disappointment. Resilience is the capacity within self to bounce back or recover after a disappointment. Entrepreneurs must be resilient to stay their course if they believe they are on track, and flexible to adapt to environmental change.
Organisation Entrepreneurs, especially the ones that go “solo”, are the business. They must carry out a diversity of tasks while meeting deadlines. It is therefore extremely important for entrepreneurs to have excellent organisation skills, so that they are able to manage their time and tasks effectively.
Competent in human relations Entrepreneurs must be able to inspire their employees to work towards their vision and achieve common goals, while nurturing creative spirit among them.
Self-awareness Self-awareness will help entrepreneurs to understand their personality traits and how these traits will affect decision making or other people. For example, self-awareness is useful when the company’s growth forces entrepreneurs to change their management style from hands-on management to professional management where the entrepreneur is not involved in the day to day decision making anymore. It is so valuable for entrepreneurs to recognise when it is no longer feasible for them to continue to do everything by themselves - this is self awareness in action. Many entrepreneurs admitted that shifting to a different way of leading is the most challenging change they had to undergo in order to sustain their companies’ growth.
Technical knowledge Excellent technical knowledge, whether it is producing goods or services, is very important for entrepreneurs to influence and engage other stakeholders in leading the business in its start-up stages. The entrepreneur is the business in the start up stage and their technical know how will influence and excite others to get involved.
Market knowledge Entrepreneurs must have a deep knowledge about the market and the industry in which they wish to start a company.
Superior customer service Successful entrepreneurs make customer satisfaction the company’s central focus without limitation on the imagination on how or how much to satisfy the customers.

Now that you have a good idea of what makes up a successful entrepreneur, reflect on your own personal characteristics as an entrepreneur.

# Identify and write down all of your perceived strengths.
  1. Identify where there are gaps in your entrepreneurial profile i.e. weaknesses.
  2. Decide how you can meet the gaps e.g. if being organized is a challenge for you, who do you know is an excellent organiser that you could learn from?
  3. Decide how you can make use of your strong points in order to succeed in the business venture you have in mind in your community.

Don’t forget to make notes in your learning journal!

Perfect! As you reflect on what makes a good entrepreneur, complete the following activity:

# Write down three of your strengths that will make you a good entrepreneur.

  1. Name two entrepreneurs in your area/district and from the table above, identify up to five (5) characteristics that make them successful as entrepreneurs. If you have the chance, try to interview them in an informal conversation, perhaps over the phone.

Well done! By now you have a good idea of the personal characteristics that are common to successful entrepreneurs. You also have a good perception of your own individual characteristics. Now the question is… Is entrepreneurship for you? Let’s take a look at what it takes to be an entrepreneur and the skills that are necessary for entrepreneurial success.

What Does it Take to Be an Entrepreneur?

Becoming an entrepreneur offers rewards and challenges, like anything in life, really. Rewards can include the fact that:

  • You work towards achieving financial stability
  • You control the outcomes of your business
  • You control the type of work you do
  • The work you do is meaningful to you
  • You control how much you work or don‚Äôt work

Challenges can include the fact that:

  • Investors and banks may not believe in your idea
  • You may not get enough financing to start your business
  • You may have to face many barriers as you attempt to gain credibility, like being a visible minority or having a visible disability, for example
    Before you decide to go ahead with a great business idea, you should reflect on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Do you have the right personality? Are you willing to make some sacrifices? Are you resilient enough to push through disappointments in order to meet your goals? Is your family supportive of your intent to become an entrepreneur? These are just a few of the questions you should try to answer before you commit to starting a small business.

Why Do You Want to Be an Entrepreneur?

Determining why you want to be an entrepreneur will lead you into thinking about the rewards, risks and challenges involved in starting up a small business. So, why do you want to be your own boss?

Below you will find a list of reasons that people often give as motivating factors to becoming entrepreneurs. Check all the ones that apply to you:

I want to be my own boss so that I can:

* Become more independent

* Set my own hours of work

* Do work that I really enjoy

* Care for my family while I work

* Have the opportunity to manage a family business

* Have an opportunity to contribute to society when no one else gives me the chance for employment


Good job! The idea of owning a business can be appealing to many people for a variety of reasons. Being an entrepreneur does offer you more flexibility and allows for creativity in problem solving, it puts you in control of your own financial situation and it allows you to explore avenues that you are keen to pursue from a professional perspective. However, being an entrepreneur is not easy and the learning curve is steep. You must be prepared to take on a lot of responsibility, take risks and learn new skills that will allow you to manage every facet of your small business. This may mean long working hours, especially in the beginning, which will have an impact on your personal life. Therefore it is important that you think about the following issues before you make a commitment:

  1. How much effort are you willing to put in? (i.e. 100% plus)
  2. How much can you invest in the business? (financially, time wise and emotionally?)
  3. How much do you need each month for essential household expenses?
  4. How good are you at establishing your own priorities and following through?
  5. Are you a "self-starter"?
  6. Do you work well alone or do you need others to provide motivation? Or are you self motivated?
  7. Are you going to work out of your home and what changes will you have to make to do so?
  8. If you work from home, will you be able to "separate" work from home life - interruptions, etc.?
  9. How long can you go without cash coming in from your business? E.g. 6 months, 1 year?
  10. How do you think you are going to feel about not having income coming in immediately or sporadically?
  11. What will the impact be on your family, good or bad?
  12. If you need additional resources to live on while your business is getting started, where can you get them?

As you reflect on these issues and assess why you want to be an entrepreneur you will be ready to make an informed and rational decision. If entrepreneurship is for you, you are on your way!

Entrepreneurial Business Skills

So, you decided that you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur in terms of your own personal characteristics. Hopefully you will also have the support of your family, friends and community. But what skills do you need now that you have decided to go ahead? Let’s face it, as a solo entrepreneur you are THE business! No matter the size of your business, you are the visionary, accounting, marketing, sales, customer service, and technical expert. You are boss and subordinate, executive and front-line staff. How well you juggle the roles and tasks determine how successful you will be.

You may be asking yourself:

Do I need all these business skills to be a successful entrepreneur?

The answer is simple:

No need to be an expert in all these fields!

However, having a good understanding of the basic principles in all these business areas will increase your chances for success. For example, if you are not good with numbers, you may decide that you will not be doing the bookkeeping. You will hire a professional bookkeeper instead. However, you will be much more effective at managing your business and making financial decisions if you understand basic accounting principles that will enable you to intelligently analyse financial information and quickly make sound business decisions.

If you identify accounting skills as a weakness in the skill set you will bring to the business, perhaps you need to plan for some training in this area as you start developing your business plan.

There are core business skills that will contribute to your success as an entrepreneur. They can be grouped in three categories:

  1. Communication skills
  2. Interpersonal skills
  3. Business skills
  1. Planning
  2. Accounting and legal
  3. Marketing
  4. Management

Take some time now to assess what business skills you can bring into your business. Consider the following questions and use the space provided to make notes about your reflection.

Communication skills

  1. How clearly do you communicate your ideas in writing to others? And how clearly do you communicate your ideas in spoken words?
  1. Do you need help in these areas? If so, do you know where you can get some help or training?

Interpersonal skills

  1. Do you enjoy being around people and working with others? Are you a good listener? Can you be diplomatic when trying to resolve a conflict? Do you give positive, encouraging feedback to those around you?Are you able to give tactful feedback for improvement to others? Do you present yourself in a professional manner, or in a manner that will be acceptable in your business area?
  1. Do you need help in these areas? If so, do you know where you can get some help or training? E.g. think of someone who exhibits these skills all the time and have a conversation with them to learn what their talent is.

Business skills

  1. Planning: What planning skills do you have? Are you able to set goals and timelines? Do you enjoy plotting a course to achieve your goals?

  1. Accounting and legal: Do you have any skills in accounting and bookkeeping? Do you enjoy bookkeeping? Do you enjoy working with numbers and reconciling accounts? Can you understand financial statements? Do you have any skills in legal issues? Can you understand legal documents, like contracts, for example? Do you have an idea of what is involved in setting up a business?

  1. Marketing: Do you have any marketing skills (i.e. selling you idea)? Do you have any idea how you can market your business? Do you know how to create a marketing plan for your business?

  1. Management: What management skills do you have? Have you managed people or a project in the past? Can you motivate and inspire people to get things done? Can you delegate tasks and monitor people and projects to meet deadlines?

  1. Do you need help in these areas? If so, do you know where you can get some help or training?

Accounting and legal:

Well done! This exercise is meant to assist you in determining what your entrepreneurial skills are and in assessing the areas where there may be gaps in your skills. Good communication and interpersonal skills are extremely important in your role as entrepreneur. You will need to communicate effectively with your staff and your clients, your banker and your investors. In addition, unless your business idea involves your being locked in a laboratory creating something, you will need to relate well with others. Being a good listener goes a long way in business. And you will need tact to deal with difficult clients and even difficult staff in order to diffuse conflict. It is also a good idea to have some business skills, but you can always hire experts in these areas, ask friends for help or research the areas yourself. This exercise means to make you think through your own skills in business so that you can determine well ahead whether or not you will need help in any of these areas.

For example, you may not know much about the legal issues involved in starting up a business, so you may need to plan ahead to involve a lawyer. You can ask a lawyer friend for help, or you may need to hire one. If you need to hire a professional lawyer, you will have to budget accordingly. You can also choose to research what is involved in starting up a business by contacting local business centres, searching the Internet or contacting your Government bodies. To do this you need to plan ahead and allocate some time.

By now, you should have identified your own entrepreneurial skills as well as strategies for complementing your skill set. This information will be very helpful as you create your business plan further along in this study guide.

Entrepreneurship – Advantages and Disadvantages

Now that you have a good understanding of what it takes to be an entrepreneur, see if you can come up with some advantages and disadvantages of entrepreneurship.



You may have identified some of the following advantages and disadvantages to entrepreneurship:


  • You are your own boss
  • You are independent and you have freedom and flexibility (working hours, time off from work)
  • You may be able to spend more time with your family
  • You do something that you enjoy
  • You may make more money
  • You will enjoy a challenge that will keep you motivated


  • You may have to be prepared to work long hours
  • Work may interfere with your family life
  • Steep learning curve: you have to have a variety of skills and be able to multitask
  • You take a financial risk
  • You may not have any benefits, like medical care, vacation subsidy, etc.

You may have found other advantages and disadvantages. However, the important thing is for you to be able to think through some of the issues and develop strategies to minimize their impact in your business and in your life.

See Richard Freeman’s handbook, section 4.1.3: Components that form the three-part structure (Stage 3: Remind the learners …).Unit summary

With careful consideration about the advantages and disadvantages of entrepreneurship, you conclude your study of the first unit of this study guide. Good job!

So far, you explored the personal characteristics that contribute to the success of an entrepreneur and you assessed your own personal characteristics. You learned about the entrepreneurial skills that lead to successful entrepreneurship and you also assessed the skills you already have versus the skills you may need to get. You also reflected on strategies to complement your own skills so that you develop a sustainable business.

You are now ready to move along with your business idea, on the path to entrepreneurship! The following units will guide you through the stages of starting up your own business, culminating in the development of an effective business plan. Good luck!