Those who have been to technical schools may find a niche in the construction industry as building contractors.
Advanced economies provide a lot of opportunities to people to work as insurance brokers.
One-person firms are common in business services such as accounting, auditing, estate management, freelance journalism and clinical services.
In Malawi, most people are into minibus business and provision of private secondary education.
Why are there not many small-scale businesses around? The simple answer is that it is easier to start a business than to stick to it.
Then, there is the issue of capital which one should consider before setting up a business. One needs to save enough to get into business.
Otherwise, sooner than later, you discover you have started with too little resources. You also discover problems you did not expect. You must have the spirit of perseverance and adaptability to remain there.
Most people quit within five years from the date of launching their businesses.
Many small businesses die because of bad management. Nobody drives a vehicle without first receiving instructions in driving.
Many people go into business without first acquiring principles of business management.
They think such training is not necessary. But in the business environment of these days, ignorance does not guarantee success. You need to study the market structure, economic trends and the competitors.
One person may start a business by merely imitating others. He will open a private secondary school when his own education leaves a lot to be desired.
He encounters problems he did not expect and find the going tough. If you do not know the field already, then you must make careful inquiries about it such as what is the minimum capital, the skills required and the nature of competition you are likely to encounter.
Some fail in business because they do not have the ethic. Two American business magnates of the past have a word for us.
Benjamin Franklin said: â€œThe way to wealth, if you want it, is as clear as the way to the market. It is made of industry and frugality.â€
A more recent magnate Paul Getty says in his book How To Be Rich that successful businesspersons work 16 to 18 hours in a day, seven days in a week and seldom take vocations; and that they practise frugality.
â€œMake money first before you decide what to do with it.â€
There is a suitable character for business practice. If you do not have it naturally, you must cultivate it.
Said Lord Thomas of the Canadian media magnate: â€œNo leisure, no pleasure.â€
Since most governments recognise the indispensability of small to medium enterprises, they have adopted policies for promoting entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses.
Some governments provide direct and indirect subsidies to reduce costs for small businesses. Some provide tax concessions, other exempt small businesses from labour regulations such as safety and health or minimum wages. Some offer to train small-scale businesspeople in entrepreneurship and guarantee bank for loans for them.
Why do governments take such patronising policies? They know they have a responsibility of seeing to it that all people who need jobs are employed. A society full of unemployed people is vulnerable.
What is the policy of the Malawi Government towards job creation? What assistance has it pledged to give to those who want to be self-employed?
I have a feeling that policies of our governments are as vague about assisting businesspeople as they are about encouraging the books industry, reading culture and authorship.
What is required is to institute a commission of inquiry into the problems of small businesses and recommend how to put a new lease of life into the sector.