Why should World Entrepreneurs Day matter for us AIESECers?
On the occasion of World’s Entrepreneur Day, we present to you an article on how AIESEC is really a playground to master entrepreneurship spirit and what we can take out of our AIESEC experience to translate into starting a business. More importantly you can get a reason on why most of us as AIESECers should try to become AIESECpreneurs.
There is one question I always ask of the AIESECpreneurs-to-be during the selection process in theSPACE ngo: why do they think they can be entrepreneurs? Most often their answers are related to their past management or leadership experience in AIESEC. And that is right. An entrepreneur needs to be good in both, but there is just something more to it, isn’t it?
What can that be?
The risk taking attitude or rather the freedom to fail at your own risk? Being completely in charge? Or the source of reward on this journey comes from being the absolute creator of not just your own job but that of others? Or satisfaction from influencing the lives of people through the added value you deliver as a business?
Most of these can be present in some form as a top level manager of a corporate or mid-level leader of someone else’s business surely. But the truth is, creating a business from scratch, from nothing: that is a phenomenal feeling; hard to recreate in any other jobs…
Perhaps that as well played a role in our lives as AIESECers back then.
We certainly (in most of my teams) were creating something great out of literally no money, often from very limited resources. I am sure it is that entrepreneurial spirit which kept most of us fighting hard and working over nights for our beloved organisation. This sense of being the maker of something greater than us.
When Steve Jobs started Apple in a garage probably had zero certainty on where this would be heading… But surely he had this same spirit that kept him propel forward.
So do not get frustrated if you cannot see yet that something big is getting born under your hands. Whatever you do as an entrepreneur, you have the potential to be the architect of a new – even a better – life for humankind: to be the inventor of the next big thing.
Again a familiar mindset from AIESEC times: humankind’s potential. Your potential..
What does it take to create something exceptional, like Apple?
To set your heart to be an entrepreneur is easy. Find a simple answer for this complicated question: what is compelling enough to not have a paid job with secure salary but instead choose a life of uncertainty? A life of working day and night, for years, or maybe decades, sacrificing a ton and not even being secure if you can pay the rent at the end of the month?
If you have a good enough reasoning for this, you will eventually succeed as an entrepreneur I can guarantee. I think I can actually say this, because if you fail enough times and still stand up -eventually by simply the odds- you will make it anyway.
The question is: are you ready to live a life like this? Or do you have that spirit you need to give it at least a try, or two, or hundred?
But isn’t this what we were doing in AIESEC? Building the attitude of “learning by doing” and “mistakes are part of the process”, “work hard, party harder”? Weren’t all these setting us up for success in business?
We had the best ever possible education to succeed as entrepreneurs, thanks to AIESEC. True.
But the thing is we ought to unlearn the “volunteer reflex” as well. We should fight the urge to do things for free as volunteering in AIESEC. It is great and noble to build a social enterprise and most of what we do in theSPACE or within – through our AIESECpreneurs – has a strong social side. Although we try to focus heavily on the financial aspects by starting to unlearn these mental obstacles mentioned before.
You probably won’t make a living nor create jobs for others by doing everything for free…
Another thing we often get great in AIESEC is the ability to communicate visions and get people motivated to join our mission. “Give your mission to the team” – I read it somewhere lately and it made me reflect. Why is it so critical to think in groups as an entrepreneur and not stop at a solo level or freelance?
That is right. You are “just” you. Cannot clone yourself (yet) and if you keep your business as a side-hustle for yourself without a real team hooked on the same mission with you, sooner or (hopefully) later it will end with you…
Do not take me wrong, you will achieve great things and even build a great life. But not necessarily something which can be living long after you passed as well and still provide for many… Steve Jobs could have been a great salesman, or a motivational speaker, or even a CEO of someone’s business. but thanks God, he had chosen to create something from nothing. And even he is gone, still providing so much through the business he built, not just salaries, but the products and culture he has created… the legacy he left behind.
Think about AIESEC when it started. Remember the founders? 7 countries = a handful of people. I am pretty sure none of them had thought that 7 decades later the mission would still engage multitudes? Like ~75,000 students a year in 2500+ universities, 125+ countries plus us all alumni.
I know our community is one of the most powerful ones in the world with all these decades of talents. But what always fascinated me about AIESEC is the ability to create a legacy from nothing from a literally broken world around the founders… It was indeed the end of the destructive two world wars…
Surely, it is great to influence on any scale by maybe working for someone else. I get it as I also do have a day job I find sort of purpose in.. But
- it is not my mission in the world.. (thanks to AIESEC I am self-aware)
- I believe this potential of humankind, truly it can only be discovered if most of us, AIESECers, bring forward what unique creations lay in our hearts…
As someone at the Life-Long Connection Space at IC organized by AAI said “we do need great leaders in every sector to make the world a better place”. Fully agree. “everybody cannot be an entrepreneur.” Totally true.
But those who can, they should be. For the greater good.
So if this is speaking to you, please do start a business. Please do take this hustle on. Please do know that we believe in you as a community of AIESEC alumni and we do need you to succeed. We will cheer for you. We will keep an eye on you. And we will even support you. AIESEC Alumni International right now is working on building a program for entrepreneurship and with AAE and AAMEA we already started piloting theSPACE project as well under the associations’ wings.
And remember: It is good to be an entrepreneur because you can create wealth and have the ability – and power if your business is big enough – to influence how it is distributed in the world. And it is good to be an AIESECpreneur because you will surely do the same as above explained but also certainly keep in mind to create social impact; as well keep in heart the AIESEC values when you are influencing the decisions about the future of humankind as the next powerful business leader.
Let’s create more AIESECpreneurs.
Article was written by Krisztina Kapuvari, member of the management board of AAE and Program Innovation team of AAI. Also CEO and Founder of theSPACE ngo, the AIESECpreneur business incubator NGO located in Benin Republic.