The Entrepreneur II : THE WORKS

 And it doesn’t end here. What makes this concept truly The Entrepreneur   unique is that it’s going to be   completely interactive and encompass  all the mediums of communication.  It’s  going to be on TV (that’s the  base), it’s going to be on the internet,  it’s going to be in print; in short it’s  going to be everywhere.

For the internet, a blog is going to be started. It’s pertinent to note at this point that the show itself is going to be Urdu-based while the blog is going to be in English. Why? That’s because one of the aims of the blog is to involve the top entrepreneurs in the world who also maintain a blog, people like Steve Jobs who I think has a blog. Their take on the whole process is going to provide a different perspective on the grand scheme of things which maybe even our own local entrepreneurs may not be able to provide.

 The main content of the blog is to showcase the thought-process of the current entrepreneur- his ambitions, goals, aspirations, fears, problems etc. And people would be able to comment on that, even offer suggestions. That’s one point of interaction.

 One other aim of the blog is to woo those Pakistani bloggers who seldom watch Pakistani television to get interested in the program and then do some unsolicited word-of-mouth advertising in the blogosphere, that is, if they like the TV show.

Is there any clear-cut advantage of this strategy? There is. A study conducted by Dieringer Research Group, a market research firm, 40 million consumers have changed their opinions about shopping brands because of information available online. About 50% of the adults on the internet have changed their opinions about a brand because of their online interactions. This study may not be completely relevant here, but it does show the power of the internet in swaying opinion. And when you trying to nurture a brand into a leader, which the Entrepreneur will be, you need the Web and its populace on your side.

 But in order to make it 360° interactive, the TV audience would be encouraged to post video questions,comments,suggestions and queries on Youtube which would be shown  on the show and the queries would be answered by one of the experts. Maybe if a suggestion is good enough, it would be acted upon. This is what CNN has done with its presidential debate where people post questions on Youtube which are answered by the presidential candidates during a special program on CNN by Andersen Cooper. This strategy has generated tremendous publicity for them. I have no reason to believe it won’t work in this case as well.

There is one other thing that can be done to add not only a spice to the proceedings but also a guarantee that the business would continue to work once we are through the season and the business started in it is no more under the spotlight. And that is, include a group of people who are specialist in different aspects of running a business. For instance there can be a CEO, a CFO (Chief Financial Officer), an entrepreneur, a typical seth businessman, a chartered accountant, a brand manager, a marketing executive, an HR manager and so on. These people would collectively make up the BOM – Board of Mentors. This board would be a cross between a board of directors (as in a corporation) and a board of judges that you see on all those ‘Idol’ programs. These people can be either retired or still working in an organization, it doesn’t matter. What matters is their function, which is to advise the entrepreneur on different aspects of the business. But it has to be ensured that these people don’t take over the decision making ability of the star of the show and as such they won’t be given any veto powers and would be advised to keep their participation in the whole affair to a certain limit.

The format of the program is that the people are going to be encouraged to apply to the program for a chance to become the entrepreneur on the show, stating why they want to start a business and what sort of business and why should they be picked amongst the thousand others who have applied (hopefully).

 Each couple of episodes are going to be focused on a distinct business process, that is, it’s not going to have a haphazard way of doing things just to make the program more glamorous and exciting for the audience. Of course it has to be exciting to draw the crowds, but promoting a topsy-turvy way of setting, running and managing a business is not on the cards.

The most important part is that each season is going to focus on only one business. I know this is a risky strategy. Just one business per season means that much less number of people get to be on the show which can translate into less viewer-ship, but  not necessarily. The aim of the program is help people to do the big things they always wanted to do on their own. It’s to help people realize that help is all around them if they are willing to take the first step and then ask for it. Even if people don’t get a chance to become an entrepreneur on the show, which many won’t if the proposed format is followed, at least they’ll learn how to go about it on their own, whom to turn for help, what are the pitfalls to avoid etc.

I don’t have an iota of doubt that this show is going to be a runaway success if done right. My only concern is that the show organizers may opt for those business ideas that are outlandish and attractive for publicity but not viable in the long run, and that once the season is finished and the program moves on to another business, the previous business may collapse. I don’t want this to happen. I want it to be a genuine effort to help people realize their entrepreneurial dreams and not a publicity gimmick.

The big question is: can a mere TV show achieve something on such a grandeur scale? And to what end? What did I envisage to come up with such a show?

If my wildest dream is to come true, this show should ignite an entrepreneurial revolution in Pakistan akin to the IT revolution of 90s when every other person wanted to be an IT specialist.

SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) are the fuel of an economy. In the developed nations, SMEs make up 96% of their industry while a mere 4% comprise large-scale manufacturing which largely depends upon huge bank funding and foreign technology to make it work. SMEs on the other hand develop and grow on indigenous skills and methods. If that’s not enough, SMEs provide 80% of the jobs and contribute 38% to the GDP on an average all over the world. In Pakistan, they are an endangered species. It will be the goal of The Entrepreneur to prevent that.

An entrepreneur revolution where every other person wants to become an entrepreneur just like they want to become an engineer, doctor, or an MBA right now. Wasn’t this what the American dream was all about? I want it to become the Pakistani dream. Bus itna sa khwab hai.