In 2010, when I came to the United States for the first time, one of the things that impressed me the most was the abundance of everything. It was a big contrast with the environment in which I grew up.
For example, when I was doing my Electronic Engineering degree in Venezuela back in 2000, we didn’t have all the necessary supplies for our laboratories and practices. We had to figure out how to develop successful experiments with whatever we had at hand. And then, in 2012, I completed my Master’s degree in the United States. And I was able to see and have access to a lot of the things that we didn’t have in Venezuela.
Nevertheless, I don’t see my experience years ago as something bad at all. Neither do I see it as something negative today. On the contrary, I think that limited resources, fewer options and scarcity of the exact things we need to do something help us develop several fundamental habits that are key for sustainable success.
From my own experience and what I’ve seen in many entrepreneurs from developing economies, I think these are six of the habits for success from people and entrepreneurs in developing countries:
1. Resiliency: probably the most important one. Resiliency means the strength to recover from failures, getting back stronger and with more knowledge to try again. Entrepreneurs in developing countries are mentally tough. They have a mindset that allows them to overcome challenges and getting up more often than they fall down. Whether because they intentionally decide to nurture that mindset, or because the culture and their situation makes them do so, resiliency is key to successfully achieve their endeavors.
2. Capacity to face the fears: economic and resource limitations are not the only constraints in developing economies. There are also personal safety issues, red tape, corruption and political and social turmoil. Yet, entrepreneurs in developing countries stand up and take the challenges as they come. Do they fear? Oh yeah! They are terrified! But the most successful entrepreneurs are not those who have no fear, but those who suck it up and trudge along the difficult paths to achieve their passions and reach their potential.
3. Emotional networking: entrepreneurs in developing countries create strong social connections in order to help each other along the journey to build long term success. This is not the simple and basic what’s-in-there-for-me type of networking that we very often see in the Washington DC and New York City happy hours. It is rather an emotional connection that empowers and motivates people to support each other. These social networks are critical for the short term survival of entrepreneurs’ initiatives, and the long term success of their ideas. In developing countries, communities support their entrepreneurs, because they all feel that if one of them is better off, they all could also be.
4. Unlimited action with limited resources: what needs to be done will be done, with whatever is available. A lot of startups in developing economies have started by Macgyvering (I hope you know who Macgyver was. If not, google it... you'll love his entrepreneurial mindset) with some very limited resources. The entrepreneurs behind those startup learn how to put to together the few things they have in order to achieve what they want to achieve. It is fundamentally expanding the range of action, with the few resources available.
5. Seizing opportunities: this is fundamental, because opportunities are not really abundant in developing countries. This doesn’t mean to seize everything that comes your way, since some of those things can take you very far away from your passions and dreams. However, entrepreneurs in developing countries develop the type of self-learned maturity that allows them to recognize the type of opportunities that are valuable for their ideas. This is true for entrepreneurs everywhere. Nevertheless, I can assure you that the abundance of financing options and access to education in developing countries is by far less than in developed economies.
6. Increased imagination: finally, in an environment of limited resources, increasing creativity and imagination is fundamental to see opportunities where everybody else sees problems. This is also true in developed economies as well. However, when you don’t have access to what you need in order to successfully carry out your idea, you must imagine and resolve with whatever you have at hand.
About the Author: Enrique Rubio is an Electronic Engineer and a Fulbright scholar with an Executive Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University. Enrique is passionate about leadership, business and social entrepreneurship, curiosity, creativity and innovation. He is a blogger and podcaster, and also a competitive ultrarunner. Visit the blog: Innovation for Development and Podcast. Click here to follow Enrique on Twitter.
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