Editor: I have left this post exactly as it is in Entrepreneurship On Trial which I penned in 2010 for a purpose.
This case study shows how an entrepreneur was formed, how each decision led to new doors and greater opportunities. It’s too early to adequately evaluate the FML foray. So far so good! But what events could cause this to become an albatross? How might Timba
avoid those vulnerabilities? What are the likely scenarios of how this investment will proceed from here? How might Timba proceed more effectively? What risks should he avoid taking? Answering these questions is the challenge of strategy.
The learning points for entrepreneurs from this case study are:
1. An entrepreneurial business is built on a solid business model and philosophy. The business model can be remodelled, as Prof. Mitchell argues so powerfully in his books.
2. In entrepreneurial investments sometimes one does not have to own the asset if he can control and derive benefit from it. For example using Econet Wireless Capital’s resources when his had run out, Timba managed to acquire control of FML.
3. A keen concern for the human resources of the entrepreneurial venture and delivering value to them increases the value of the business.
4. Cultivating and protecting a network of relationships is critical for an entrepreneur. Timba’s relationships with Strive Masiyiwa, Shingai Mutasa and Gideon Gono, for example, have proved beneficial to him.
5. Business challenges can be converted to opportunities, depending on how one views them. It all depends on one’s mindset. The threat that FML posed to RFHL was successfully converted to an immense opportunity.
6. Decisiveness is critical to entrepreneurs but this does not imply risk-taking without counsel. Surrounding oneself with strong leaders who can offer counsel is beneficial in the high stakes game of business.
7. A strong and supportive family environment is crucial to business success.
8. At times, fortuitous decisions define an entrepreneur’s path. Strategy is not only planned but can also emerge. There is an unseen hand directing the steps of humanity. At times it is important align to oneself with that direction.
9. Prior experiences enable an entrepreneur to face more challenging tasks. Entrepreneurs analyse their experiences to derive learning points. Timba gained critical experience in being faithful and diligent in handling other people’s business and this qualified him for his own.
10. Entrepreneurs are very deliberate in their strategic thought processes.