Entrepreneurship…Do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
Kirjoittanut: Aileen Flores Nunez - tiimistä Kaaos.
The Entrepreneurial Mindset
The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship
Covid-19 plunged the world into a global health disaster and economic crisis. It dramatically changed the lives of many. It contributed to the major upheaval in the financial world. Many businesses, large or small, were extremely affected. While many were unable to prepare for its negative financial impact on their businesses and income, some thrive and create new opportunities in their businesses during the pandemic time. They have increased their sales and others started new financial ventures. Crisis creates opportunities in that way. And it was true for my personal life. In April 2020, I lost my well-paid job and was out of work for two years. In addition, I was infected with the virus and hospitalized for a month. With that unfavorable situation, I tried to stay positive and never stop trying to find opportunities abroad either for work or studies. That time, though it was an exhausting condition, I considered it an opportunity to challenge and redirect my life. A change of place, and career, and fulfilling my dream of getting a degree abroad. There were a couple of options I had and coming to Finland for taking a degree in entrepreneurship was the top choice. When my visa was approved, I told myself that I did seize the opportunity when I was in crisis. My impetus to study entrepreneurship and team leadership was due to the work experience I had in sales support and logistics as well as a deep desire to start my own business. Despite being in the corporate world for a decade, I see myself as unequipped and having no confidence to run a business on my own. I wanted to obtain an entrepreneurial degree and learn many things about this field.
So, what is entrepreneurship, and do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur?
Understanding the meaning of entrepreneurship and knowing the most important things to become an entrepreneur are completely significant as a start as well as getting into it and achieving entrepreneurial success. I want to dwell more on the different definitions and views of entrepreneurship from various authors and entrepreneurs. It is also important to look back at how entrepreneurship emerged and understand the deep impact of the entrepreneur revolution on the global economy. Moreover, this essay will also evaluate whether I have the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur and how to develop an entrepreneurial mindset. It is also a way of imparting what I’ve learned from my 8 months journey along with the Fusée team and the guidance of our coaches in these entrepreneurial studies, how it changed my life and could make a difference as I share my experiences and learning. I hope others can also relate and, in a way, could be a source of inspiration for them to take a step into the entrepreneurial world. I know it would not be easy, quick, or smooth, but here I am, living my dream, so I’m all for it!
WHAT IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
According to Howard Stevenson, a Harvard business school professor, entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled (The Money Gig 2020). For me, from Stevenson’s definition, entrepreneurship is a path that could be taken by anyone who has the desire and determination to find opportunities and make financial gains on whatever resources he has at hand and even beyond. As such, entrepreneurship is providing solutions outside the box. Though it is a simple definition and not limiting, as anyone can be an entrepreneur, entrepreneurship is more on a mindset. Anyone can start his own business venture, the pursuit of innovative ideas, and gain profits. However, along with it is the challenge of taking calculated financial risks and facing uncertainties, and taking them to their advantage. Taking reference to this definition, it made me realize that one does not need to be an A-lister or someone that belongs to a family of entrepreneurs with an entrepreneurial DNA but rather entrepreneurship is learned, not born and above all no age limit!
The next definition is from Joseph Schumpeter, a Moravian-born economist, he gave the modern definition of an entrepreneur as the person who destroys the existing economic order by introducing new products and services, creating new forms of organization, or by exploiting new raw materials (Bygrave 2010, 2). It is a creation-destruction process of entrepreneurship in which few businesses are shaped on this pattern while the majority enter what is already existing in the market. The definition seemed radical and advocated exploitation instead of exploring and perceiving new opportunities. But then realistically, some businesses could not stand and yield further with the existence of the new one. Sad as it sounds but this is also another truth in entrepreneurship, the fierce competition in the market economy and thriving to survive.
Here is another entrepreneurship definition from an entrepreneur Logan Allec, owner of Money Done It Right. He interpreted entrepreneurship as the art and science of building profitable systems to help people in ways that other systems do not. The core competency of the entrepreneur is not business acumen or marketing ability but empathy- the ability to understand the feelings and needs of others. (Freedman 2022). An entrepreneur is an innovator who brings change for the betterment of the lives of people, building the connection, and understanding what the customer feels, hears, says, and thinks. It is what we refer to as customer-centricity. It is a way of understanding the world, building a relationship with your customer, and executing one’s leadership and teamwork ability. As the competition is also high, entrepreneurs are expected to think beyond the normal and ordinary to produce better ideas that would bring transformation and maximum benefit to the customer and to himself and to society.
Entrepreneurship refers to the concept of developing and managing a business venture to gain profit by taking several risks in the corporate world. (Entrepreneur Handbook 2021). In simple understanding, entrepreneurship is setting up a business for profit gain with the foresight of being in uncertain situations along the way.
For me, there is no sole exact and correct definition of entrepreneurship. The term can be viewed in diverse ways. It has a wide range of definitions, and it depends on how one perceives its process and the impact it contributed on one’s economic environment. These are based on the experiences one gained in the world of entrepreneurship. So, anyone can become an entrepreneur, but the challenge is how to become a successful entrepreneur and what one must have to succeed in an uncertain world. The above three definitions combined, completed my understanding of what entrepreneurship is based on the learning I gained from the start of our term till this period. Understanding fully the definitions made me more aware and feel a keen sense of determination to continue this entrepreneurial journey that I am on right now. My ideal business might not be clear right now but with my continuous learning and experience as well as working out what I want to create someday together with our team in these entrepreneurial studies, for sure I will get there in time.
THE EMERGENCE OF ENTREPRENEURAL REVOLUTION
Currently, there are 582M entrepreneurs worldwide and an overwhelming 29% increase of entrepreneurs during the pandemic period (ThinkImpact.com 2022). What are the reasons for the rise of entrepreneurs and when it all began? More than a thousand new businesses are born every hour of every working day in the United States. Entrepreneurs are driving a revolution that is transforming and renewing economies worldwide (Bygrave 2010,). Entrepreneurs create innovative solutions that answer the needs of the customers or fill in the gap in the marketplace that brings transformation and impact to the people and the global economy. Entrepreneurial activities are nothing new to tribal times, however the accelerating advancement in technology paves the way to a new economic age. According to Daniel Priestley in his book, Entrepreneur Revolution (2013), “we are leaving the Industrial Revolution and we are entering the Entrepreneurial Revolution”. He believed that technology has robbed the big factories of their awesome competitive advantage and given an edge to small businesses. I absolutely agree that with the aid of much more advanced technologies, entrepreneurs are continuously generating the latest ideas and inventing new products and services that change and improve lifestyles and ways of gaining wealth for many. Not only that, but entrepreneurs also have customer empathy, meaning they care more than those big companies do.
But what exactly brought the rise of numbers among entrepreneurs in the recent years? Based on my personal interviews and queries, people become entrepreneurs because they want to be their own boss, leave that 9-5 grind every day, do their passion, and most importantly exponentially increase their income. And all these are true for me too, and the same as what we can read and hear from any publications, it was during the Sprint Innovation Festival 2022 that I utterly understand more of how to give emphasis on the need of the client in doing business. Beyond generating profits on business and doing so out of my passion, it is very important that my product should answer to the needs of my client. If it’s not, then the product will mostly not succeed, or profit will not be lucrative at all. As an aspiring entrepreneur, I must think to provide a product that would improve my customer’s life and bring immense value to them.
SHAPING THE ENTREPRENEURAL MINDSET
” Do I have what it takes to become one?” is always the big question that always plays in my head when I think of becoming an entrepreneur. Then, what are the things I should have and do so I will become a successful entrepreneur and especially since today’s entrepreneurial world is an arena of high competitiveness and drastic change? Well, as far as I knew, there could be no perfect and sure formula, but here are the 5 characteristics that habitual entrepreneurs have in common which are discussed by McGrath and MacMillan in their book, The Entrepreneurial Mindset (2000).
- They passionately seek opportunities.
- They pursue opportunities with enormous discipline.
- They pursue only the very best opportunities and avoid exhausting themselves and their organizations by chasing every after option.
- They focused on execution-specifically adaptive execution.
- They engage the energies of everyone in their domain.
As the world is uncertain out there, an entrepreneur will always find opportunities even to the slightest possibilities or even to some extent to none at all, however, pursuing only the best opportunities and not draining their efforts. An execution-oriented entrepreneur is needed. Doing it slowly and spending much time on planning could be more expensive and not getting the right time. Entrepreneurs like to take the risk and get it wrong than wait till the idea fades away. This is where I fail as I realized, I dwell much on thinking about my ideas and make it sure that it’s 100% right, however, action is not taken into execution at all because I’m scared to fail, or it might not be the right idea. And if I failed, I have no idea where and what to do next, but being an entrepreneur, when things get wrong, perceive the situation, and get things right after, never be afraid to take another action and proceed, and if strategy and methods need to be changed then that’s what should be done. This is very true for our team training, we are definitely in a slow phase and keep things in delay. Some of the reasons I see are that we couldn’t agree right away and each one of us is afraid to take a risk, wait for others to lead the decision, and scared to be blamed once the action fails. There were times I told myself that if I do this alone, for sure I have done it already but again another realization I had is that entrepreneurship isn’t a single management. Successful entrepreneurship never happened alone and is done by a single person. There is no such thing as a self-made millionaire. In every case, people who are described as self-made are surrounded by a brilliant team of people. (Priestley 2013). Taking account of my entrepreneurial studies as a team, entrepreneurship trains me and the entire team to work with others. To find the value of each person in the team that would contribute to our business success. Thus, having a team and the right people on board is one great factor in that successful entrepreneurship happens. However, chaotic and deep struggle at times, I always stay positive and optimistic that Fus and that entrepreneurial mindset is embodied in each one of us individually and as well as a team in time.
Yes, I am one of the millions who take the leap of the entrepreneurial path. Doing my entrepreneurial studies here in Proakatemia is an immense life opportunity for me. I admit that there are tremendous issues even from the start until this time, however, I always keep in mind that this will always be part of the process and there will always be ways to get through it. I perceive these issues as challenges to us and are part of the learning process of becoming entrepreneurs. The school’s reputation of producing excellent graduates and successful entrepreneurs in the significant business world gives me confidence that learning through Proakatemia way will mold me into a passionate and versatile entrepreneur. Here, understanding the real meaning of entrepreneurship and developing the entrepreneurial mindset are through learning by doing with the team. Our paja provides us an opportunity to gain insights and understanding about how each one in the team thinks and feels about entrepreneurship and team leadership. This culture of dialogue is a unique way of cultivating our entrepreneurial mindset and characters. Working practical things with team in most times is another significant learning approach in Proakatemia that ensures entrepreneurial aspirants acquire practical skills for building business. Making our learning contract every term during our mokkipaja is also a better way for us to learn by heart what is entrepreneurship, shaping our values to be ethical entrepreneurs, working effectively as a team and evaluating consciously where we are in the process.
Now, do I have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? Well, I’m in the process. It may take some more practical experience, and time to build what I really need to have, however with our way of training, working with the team, and expected disagreement from time to time and solving them on time, for sure I will surely get there, we will get there. Trust the process. Enjoy the process!
Bygrave, W & Zacharakis, A. 2010. The Portable MBA in Entrepreneurship
USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc
Editorial Team 2021. Entrepreneur Handbook.
What is Entrepreneurship? Read on 19.11.2022.
Freedman, M. 2022. Entrepreneurship Defined:
What it means to be an Entrepreneur. Read on 18.11.2022
(Logan Allec, CPA and owner of Money Done Right)
McGrath, R. & MacMillan, I. 2000. The Entrepreneurial Mindset.
USA: Presidents and Fellows of Harvard College
Priestley, D. 2013. Entrepreneur Revolution.
United Kingdom: Capstone Publishing Ltd.
The Money Gig. 2020. What is Entrepreneurship
Watched on 19.11.2022