DOES SPIRITUALITY HAVE A PLACE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP BEHAVIOR? Skills and knowledge development in the later stages
SB started her career as a teacher as then in the village children were exposed to two occupations: teachers and clerks. Children in the village then were not exposed by anyone to the other possible occupations. Being a teacher attracted SB not because of the opportunity to teach but because it would enable her to be mobile. The position of a clerk was repulsive as it entailed being chained to the desk and restriction of mobility.
Upon completion of Upper Secondary School, SB enrolled in the Teachers Training College in Terengganu before she sought a transfer to the Islamic Teachers Training College in KL. She sought the transfer thinking that the latter would be able to train her to be a religious teacher. Being a religious teacher was her aim, as she wanted to know more about her faith Islam, to learn the Arabic language and at the same time build a career. SB’s stint at the college did not meet her expectations. She felt the college emphasized more on career rather than knowledge. After college, armed with the knowledge to teach deaf children Islamic knowledge, she went into teaching. Nine years of her life passed in this way without any satisfaction. She expresses her feelings with respect to this part of her life as follows:
“I did not get any satisfaction. The children were not interested in learning. Those nine years were not pleasant. Then I had the opportunity to further my studies in University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). There I developed my knowledge; I learnt Arabic and English. I had 3 children then and my love for what I was doing then made me at times neglect my kids. I was very happy as I acquired a lot of knowledge. After UKM, I was compelled to teach for four years as my study in UKM was on half pay. I waited patiently for the four years to pass.”
In the first few years after UKM, SB became a member then a distributor of a Multilevel Marketing Company (Company X). During the said time she received a lot of motivation and made the ultimate decision to resign. Upon resignation, SB set up her own agency to sell company X’s product offerings. She invested in the establishment of her own agency and went into it wholeheartedly: “I see behind this a big business, a big future. I want to upgrade this form of marketing. Some people see multilevel marketing as a means to earn a side income. However, I see it as a means to build a great career. My network comprises my down-line people and my distributors. Those down-line people are those who have set up their own agencies and are full time in the business. The 20 or more distributors are those who distribute the product on a part time basis while being attached to full time jobs elsewhere. I train my network members and give them the space and opportunity. In my business premise I have allocated specific rooms for training and entrepreneurship classes as I emphasize service to the customer. Right now my system is welcome and invite and to serve the opportunity. Since my market is the elite, I must serve the elite in an acceptable way via therapy, health products and show them how to get the best of the product”.
The decision to become an agent was not made on the spur of the moment. Her recollection of this stage of her life is as follows: “I was not interested in a small time business. I was approached three times and pitied the person who wanted to sponsor me. I did not like the act of selling. Selling in my opinion brought in little income. I have seen people who mix selling with their existing career. I could not see the person develop himself/herself other than to make a little extra money on the side; that in my opinion was a waste of time. I did not like this manner of selling in schools, as I wanted to become an entrepreneur not a salesperson.”
“Before I decided to commit, I surveyed the situation whether it was OK. I saw that an agent had the following features: a counter, products.it was an institution. I wanted to do business but I did not know how. Thus I wanted a system that would not cheat me; and that would prevent me from cheating others. I love the system more than the product.”
“Before I resigned from teaching I took one year unpaid leave to test Company X, test its system and to test me. I had to test myself to determine whether I would be serious in the new career I was contemplating or whether I would give up halfway”.