According to Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel, business leaders, policy makers, academics and experts share an important responsibility: to eliminate unnecessary regulations, taxes and other barriers in order to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit.
Van Andel wrote this opinion piece for CNBC and provided a similar view to the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He believes that in order for individual entrepreneurs to flourish and prosper, more business training and entrepreneurship education resources should be available.
In 24 countries and from 26,000 people, Amway recently sought opinions on the attitudes, concerns and desires of would-be entrepreneurs.
Titled the 2013 Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report, the study provides an up-to-date view on self-employment potential and obstacles hindering entrepreneurial activities in Australia, Austria, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.
The good news:
More than two-thirds of respondents (70%) have a positive attitude toward entrepreneurship, a 1% increase over 2012 data. Even more encouraging? Nearly half of them can imagine starting their own businesses.
Respondents from Denmark have the most positive attitude toward self-employment (89%). Finland follows with 87% and the Netherlands rounds out the top three most positive countries.
The rest of the story:
We found that 65% of would-be entrepreneurs were motivated by the desire to be independent. People want to control their time and their futures. They want to set their own hours, goals and priorities — be their own boss.
For years now, our study has shown that fear of failure is the biggest obstacle to becoming self-employed. The fear to fail has lead to the gap between the number of people who can imagine starting their own businesses and the number who actually go for it.
We believe it’s urgent to support the activation of potential entrepreneurs by jointly raising awareness, encouraging further debate and doing anything we can to negate fears.
Amway offers a unique business opportunity and we take seriously our responsibility to engage in the public discussion on entrepreneurship. The Amway Global Entrepreneurship Report is one way we do that. It provides decision-makers in the realm of politics, economics and education with real data to inform actions that encourage the foundation of new businesses.
The traditional gifts that spouses give each other to celebrate a 25th anniversary in the United States include iris flowers and silver jewelry. This month, we are quietly honoring that same milestone for the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which was signed into law in October of 1988.
This landmark legislation allowed women to receive business loans without the co-signature of a male relative; created the National Women’s Business Council; and helped fund Women’s Business Centers - similar to this one in our backyard – all over the country.
As of 2012, the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report estimated that there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing 7.7 million people.
“My dad pretty much had ideas about Amway everywhere.”
Those were the words of Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel as he spoke with China Daily recently about the company, his role as chairman of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and his father — Amway Co-Founder and former U.S. Chamber Chairman Jay Van Andel.
“It was mostly because he just looked at people, and he said: ‘You know a lot of people want the opportunity to do something for themselves.’ And that’s what the Amway business has to offer,” Van Andel said.
Today, Amway is virtually everywhere. The company operates in more than 100 countries and territories, and 90 percent of the business is outside of the United States.
It seems Jay Van Andel was right — people want to do something for themselves all around the world.
To read the full China Daily article, including insights from Steve Van Andel’s first visit to China, click here.
People who start any kind of business quickly realize: There’s a lot of work to do, and they are in charge. On Day One, it becomes their turn to call the shots, decide how to use their time and set the goals and priorities.
Being in charge of the priorities is one of the things Vladimir and Elena Sidorov appreciate most about being Amway Business Owners.
Before they joined Amway Russia in 2005, the Sidorovs held many jobs in their small village in the Altai Mountain region of Siberia: producing snake venom, growing mushrooms, delivering coal, working in retail.
When he heard about Amway, Vladimir felt he’d discovered a business opportunity that plays to his entrepreneurial streak and preference for working independently. The couple embraced the responsibility of owning a business and the success they have enjoyed from their own hard work.
So what advice did they have for their son Ilya when he became an Amway distributor at age 19? “Stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like a leader,” Vladimir says.
That can be a daunting change for those used to having someone else control their time and activities. In direct selling, newcomers typically find help in that transition through training and mentoring by their leaders. However, it still takes discipline and the willingness to accept that rewards are commensurate with the effort they put in.
The Sidorovs find their work hours aren’t fixed, but they don’t mind. Through their business they spend a lot of time together and with other successful people.
Minnie Wen, Li Man Bong and Roy Li are three talented and ambitious young professionals with success in their sights. All were academic standouts at prestigious Hong Kong colleges, with promising starts to their careers.
Minnie and Bong landed positions in Hong Kong’s financial industry, working hard to advance themselves. Roy interned in civil engineering and began pursuing his doctorate.
However, the idea of their own business ventures attracted all three, and each was looking for a way to accelerate their financial security. That interest led them to discover the Amway business opportunity.
Running their own businesses has given these early-in-career professionals greater chances to polish their interpersonal, communication, time management and broader business skills.
That kind of experience is so critical that experts urge students not to wait until graduation to practice skills like leadership, analyzing problems, working in diverse groups and social skills (the face-to-face kind, not the 140-character variety). In fact, many experts say work or professional experience during college can give new grads a job-market advantage.
Direct selling offers people of all life stages the tools to create new income opportunities and develop new skills – an antidote to fears about shrinking job markets. Minnie, Bong and Roy say they have developed confidence and expanded their networks as they share their Amway business experiences with others. And more seasoned business owners have been happy to share their own knowledge and experience with these young stars.
Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel and President Doug DeVos were selected “Business Persons of the Year” for their leadership of Amway as well as efforts to improve their hometown of Grand Rapids. They were lauded for their partnership in leading Amway to unprecedented success, including their commitment to “do the right thing and do it well.”
And Amway Cofounder Rich DeVos and wife Helen were honored for their legacy of community leadership and giving, which literally changed the skyline and future of the city. They were celebrated for being a “catalyst and spark” for the reinvention of Grand Rapids through their “leadership, positive drive and can-do attitude.”
From running a global business in Ada, to giving generously, to leading change in our community, these four meet the criteria for “influence.” And they’ve definitely made a difference in our corner of the world.
This video takes a closer look at Rich and Helen’s contributions.
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
The old axiom is of debatable origin, but few debate the message: It is better to teach someone how to do something than to do it for them.
That’s a philosophy widely embraced in direct selling, where leadership is all about helping others succeed by showing them the way.
The business opportunity is open to anyone, regardless of their experience. Individuals must take advantage of training, business tools and mentoring that can help them master the fundamentals and build real success. People are more likely to succeed when the business opportunity and distributor leaders offer plenty of each.
Nibardo Espinosa, a former electronics technican from a small town in Panama, and his wife, Yenory Rodriguez, can tell you first hand how important educational programs and networking with other business owners has been to the success of their Amway business in Costa Rica.
Even after several years in the business, the couple found fresh skills, focus and knowledge in training provided to Amway business owners. Building relationships with others facing similar challenges brought them the confidence and determination they needed to grow as entrepreneurs. Plus, it gave them greater self-esteem and the financial ability to improve their parents’ living conditions along with their own.
Members of our digital marketing team have assembled a panel of experts from direct selling companies to talk about how each one uses digital marketing to empower the 92 million people worldwide currently in the direct selling industry. That’s more than 92 million entrepreneurs looking for tools, resources and support for their independent businesses.
During this exciting panel discussion you’ll have the chance to hear how direct selling industry leaders, including Amway, Avon, MaryKay and Visalus, keep up with the heavy demands of powering a truly engaged and driven distributor force in an ever-changing digital world.
Want to learn more? Go to the SXSW PanelPicker and cast your vote! And while you’re there, click on over to this link and vote for our session exploring entrepreneurship in Ghana. Voting ends Sept. 6.
Disclaimer: The authors of these blogs are Amway employees. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily reviewed in advance by anyone but the individual author. These opinions do not necessarily reflect the view of Amway or any other person or company.