DOES SPIRITUALITY HAVE A PLACE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP BEHAVIOR? Ability to learn from many sources and from social relationships
SB’s prevalent economic situation then may have driven her to make the commitment as a teacher’s salary was suffocating her: “My husband and I were both graduates but our pay was just slightly more than that of high school teachers; enough to cover toll charges, petrol costs and parking fees. My parents could afford to go to Mecca but my husband and I couldn’t. Small savings were painful and restrictive to me, as my salary remained stable; and my responsibilities many. When someone called asking for help and in a state of distress I could only cry with that person in sympathy; as I did not have money to give. I felt I could not help others.”
SB was open to learning from many sources: company X; the person who mentored her, her up-line, CL; qualified motivators, science experts, spouse, other agents and distributors. Her reflections on the learning process are as follows: “I attended training conducted by Company X armed with notes and thick books. I would read up all those thick books and the available techniques. CL was instrumental in teaching me the art of selling. I did not like wearing jewellery, but CL advised that if it is to be sold it must be worn. I was not comfortable making a sales pitch so CL said just smile. CL would say that if we were to wear small jewellery the orders would be small thus leading to small bonuses. I could not bring myself to do that as wearing large jewellery made me uncomfortable. Thus I wore small but expensive jewellery!”
During the 1997 economic recession, Company X introduced a new product, product Y that was a health product. SB being a victim of migraine in good humor claimed that she could be referred to as a drug addict as she relied upon prescription drugs to relieve her pain. Product Y gave her back her health. She felt more motivated and spirited. As a result she strove to know more about the product. Whenever, a talk by a scientist who has knowledge of what goes into the product and its benefits is held she would attend. However, given her lack of knowledge of the sciences she would ask her husband to accompany her. This is what she said: “If the talk has something to do with science or nutrition my husband given his science background understands better. I can absorb less then twenty percent of the information but he will be able to absorb all. He will then teach my network members and myself. My team is the best in selling product Y. Now I talk about this product and give talks in schools, universities and government departments”.
Social relationships were often forged with other agents and distributors. In the process SB learnt to value the vicissitudes of business and how to manage it financially.
“The economy is down now. That is a challenge but not a stressor or form of pressure. I was able to anticipate the downturn. After all it is stated in the Quran that 7 years of prosperity will be followed by 7 lean years; and gains made during times of prosperity should be reserved for the difficult times. Thus during good times excessive expenses must be avoided. I have seen other people in the same business splurging their gains on personal material wealth and when tough times set in they are unable to manage the high standard of living they had carved for themselves. My aim is specific: I want my agency; manage my down-line well and have a good network.”
As an agent, SB attended motivational talks organized by Company X and those organized by other institutions. These motivational talks conducted by excellent speakers enabled SB to learn about her internal strengths better and to improve on her communications skills. During the course of the interview, she said that she learnt to communicate better after she became a distributor and then agent for Company X. The ideas and concepts learnt from the motivational talks were tied to her business set up and she would Islamize the teachings. The Islamization of the said teachings then encouraged her to develop motivational programs for the youth. She would often get calls to give motivational talks and in doing so will mention relevant products suitable for betterment of the youth.