“Most of what you hear about entrepreneurship is all wrong. It’s not magic; it’s not mysterious; and it has nothing to do with genes. It’s a discipline and, like any discipline, it can be learned.” Peter F. Drucker (1985)
Discipline is certainly a necessity in order to be a successful entrepreneur, but I have to disagree with Drucker regarding the magic. There is something electric about being a member of a passionate team of entrepreneurs. I can still remember the first pitch session in my apartment for a group of Northern Arizona University theatre students that would eventually blossom into the founding members of the Brelby Theatre Company. We were young, idealistic, and certainly not disciplined. We knew that we wanted to create art together, and that was enough of a spark for us to launch a new business venture. Our first season together would not be considered a fiscal success by any stretch of the imagination. (But that’s a long story for another blog post…) It took several years, and the encouraging words of a mentor to help us realize that failure isn’t a dirty word. On the contrary, sometimes our failures are much needed stepping stones towards success.
That being said, we might have avoided some of our initial failures had we had access to Effectual Entrepreneurship before launching our artistic venture. Luckily, my classmates and I have some excellent resources at our disposal as we prepare to take the plunge into starting our own business. This week’s class will allow us the opportunity to take stock of our own resources. We will be asking ourselves 1) who we are, 2) what we know, and 3) who we know.
In last week’s class, Linda gave us a seemingly simple activity. As a team, we were to imagine that we had been stranded on a desert island. We were allowed to collectively choose fifteen items that we would salvage from our plane’s wreckage. We immediately launched into a flurry of negotiating our own needs for the list. Would there be fresh water? Should we bring the food from the plane, or assume that we would be able to forage on the island? Would we bring matches, or rely on the wilderness skills of other team members? We came up with a list that we all agreed on, but that nobody was completely satisfied with. We realized after the fact that some of us were planning for long term survival and others were thinking of a speedy rescue. How different would our list have looked if we had stopped to ask ourselves what the purpose of our list was? The activity made me realize the importance of stopping to lay down expectations, and the need to establish a process and a purpose (especially when working with individuals that we’re still getting to know).
Chapter 1 of Effectual Entrepreneurship explains that entrepreneurs create their own opportunities. It’s about more than just recognizing possibilities, it’s about transformation. What are the first steps towards deciding if our idea is worth pursuing? According to the book, there are four questions that we’ll want to ask ourselves to assess the situation.
- Is it doable?
- Is it worth doing?
- Can I do it?
- Do I want to do it?
Even if I find it to be worth doing, will my classmates? Will I want to do what they feel most passionate about? I have no idea what our business venture might end up being, but I hope that we enter into this adventure prepared to learn from our failures, and ready to create our own opportunities.
1. Drucker, P.F. (1985) Innovation and Entrepreneurship Practice and Principles, Harper & Row, New York, pp. 19-33
2. Read, S. (2011). Effectual Entrepreneurship. Taylor & Francis (Ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.