By Dr. Lukman Abdr-Raheem
ACCOUNTABILITY the measure of Entrepreneurship fits perfectly the situation of Muslim business owners, who treat the issue of accountability in their business enterprises and those of others with levity. In this, we seek to understand the relationship between accountability as a measure entrepreneurship success. This is important for two reasons. First and foremost, the religion of Islam treats the issues of accountability with utmost seriousness. In Islam, the word accountability is called Hisab, and every man or woman, business person and non-business person without doubt will account before Allah all our deeds, transactions and actions. And we shall be rewarded according to our performance. Allah says:
“Draws near for mankind their Accountability, while they turn away in heedlessness” Q21:1
The second reason why this topic is important is because poor accountability is a major reason why several entrepreneurs/business owners shut down their operations across the six geographical zones in Nigeria when they could no more cope with debts and harsh business environment.
176 SMEs closed down their factories in the northern zone;
178 SMEs closed down operations in the south-east zone;
46 SMEs closed down operations in the south-south zone;
225 SMEs closed down in the south-west area, and 214 SMEs closed down in Lagos zone (Olubukola, 2013; Oyelola et al., 2013).
Accountability: The BBC English Dictionary (1992, p. 9) explains accountability as the act of process of being responsible for certain actions/duties and be ready to explain and justify such actions. Similarly, the Oxford English (2006, p. 10) explains accountability as the act of being responsible for certain decisions and actions when called upon by higher authority to render feedback. However, from the Field of Business Management, the word accountability is defined as “an obligation to give an account” to the shareholders, investors and relevant members of the public in line with the laws of the land (Oxford Dictionary of Business and Management, 2009, p.6). From the foregoing accountability is a financial concept which describes among others (a) proper records of the nature, sources and amounts of revenue inputs, (b) the appropriation of revenues/monies to various programmes/projects and (c) the actual expenditures in these programmes/projects. When ethics of accountability is adopted, it would engender financial discipline and encourage enterprise development.
Entrepreneurship is a “learning directed towards developing in young people those skills, competencies, understandings, and attributes which equip them to be innovative, and to identify, create, initiate, and successfully manage personal, community, business, and work opportunities, including working for themselves” (Gilbert, 2004, p.285). Entrepreneurship is also the willingness and the ability of an individual to seek out an investment opportunity, establish an enterprise based on this, and run it successfully either for profit-making or social benefit (Udeh, 1999). Entrepreneurship is therefore concerned with the identification of gaps and business opportunities in one’s immediate environment and bringing together the necessary resources in an innovative way to fill these gaps, bearing the risks involved and in the process gaining personal rewards (which may or may not be for profit motives.
BENEFITS OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Personal satisfaction: To some people, the chief reward of working for yourself is personal satisfaction. Personal satisfaction means doing what you want with your life. Being self-employed will enable you to spend each work day in a job you enjoy. For example, if you like photography, you may start your own studio. Each time a customer is pleased with a portrait, you will receive personal satisfaction.
You may receive satisfaction from aiding the community in which you live. Self-employed persons supply goods and services and create jobs for others. They also buy goods and services from other local enterprises, borrow money from local banks, and pay taxes.
b. Independence: Another advantage of being a self-employed person is independence. Independence is freedom from control of others. You are able to use your knowledge, skills and abilities as you see fit. When you are self-employed you are driven by spirit of self-reliance and individual survival. Compared to those who work for others, self-employed persons have more freedom of action. They are in charge and can make decisions without first having to get the approval of someone else.
c. Profit and income: One of the major rewards expected when starting a new business is profit. Profit is the amount of income left after all expenses have been paid. Profits go to the owner of a business. Being self-employed, you would be able to control your income. Very often, increased time and effort put into the enterprise results in increased income. This is not often the case when you work for someone else. How much do you want to earn each year after your business is running smoothly? Do you want to make 2, 5, 10 million naira or more a year? It’s important to decide on income because different types of businesses have different income potentials. A fast-food restaurant has one income potential while a small manufacturing business may have quite another. It’s probably tempting to set your goal at a very high level – say 15 million naira a year. Many businesses have the long-run potential of being successful; however, many businesses don’t become profitable very quickly. One way to establish a personal income goal is to answer the question “How much do I want to be making (per year) six years from now?”
d. Job security: Many enterprises are created by persons who are seeking the kind of job security that is not available elsewhere. Job security is the assurance of continued employment and income. Self-employed persons cannot be laid off, fired, or forced to retire at a certain age.
e. Status: Status is a term used to describe a person’s social rank or position. Self-employed persons receive attention and recognition through customer contact and public exposure. As a result, they may enjoy status above that of many other types of workers. Closely related to social status is pride in ownership; most people enjoy seeing their names on buildings, vehicles, stationery and advertisements. To some degree, all people seek status. Businesses have their status too. There are high-status businesses and low-status businesses. For example, garbage collection is a low-status business. Some people are very interested in the status of their business and others are not interested at all. It may be an important consideration in selecting the type of business for you. The key is to choose a business that has a status that you’ll feel comfortable with.
Flexibility: Individuals who become self-employed have options to start enterprises in all categories and sizes depending on their capabilities. Self-employment also gives the individual the job of being an employer and a leader rather than an employee and a follower.