In one of Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live skits he and his wife are struggling with debt, and receive some helpful tips from a financial advisor. This advisor promotes his “unique new program” called, ‘Don’t Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford.’ Steve Martin is totally perplexed by this approach. At one point the advisor talks about saving up money for things you want to buy and Steve asks “Where would you get this ‘saved’ money?” I relate with Steve in this scenario as I begin the semester. I came to class with the question, “Where does this entrepreneurship come from?” Unlike the short book offered to Steve to answer his dilemma, Linda has provided us with many lengthy readings that cover topics of theories, definitions and approaches surrounding entrepreneurship. Class meetings have involved discussion about these ideas to provide clarity and understanding along with group cohesion. That last part is very important since it is the five of us who will be doing this venture together. At times I feel like the audience member watching the SNL skit thinking, “Of course, that is obvious! That makes perfect sense.” At other times I feel like Steve Martin, totally perplexed and unsure. Thankfully, the class structure allows for all of these ebbs and flows of emotion as we make our way toward effectual entrepreneurship.
This week’s reading had us dive into the first seventy pages of “Effectual Entrepreneurship.” Some of the topics covered were found opportunities versus made opportunities and control versus risk. The idea behind found opportunities is that research gained from historical information will provide the entrepreneur with the greatest chance of success. When you find the largest unserved population within a market, that is when the venture begins. Steve Martin complains that he has tried debt consolidation companies and has even taken out loans to pay off his debt, but still finds himself in debt. This relates to the found opportunities approach in that the historically prescribed way cannot predict what the consumer will actually do. In Steve’s case, getting loans was not helping him change his destructive spending habits. When an entrepreneur approaches the venture with the idea that opportunities are made, the market is not always clear and time and interactions are what prove to bring out the best ideas. In this case, the entrepreneur will take self-inventory – using current resources in creative combinations with the ideas and assets of others creates the venture. This seems like a more risky approach. Therefore, the entrepreneur must create control. To expound on this idea, Linda lead us through a short activity. We were each given a 3×5 card and a black Sharpie. On one side of the card we were to write five things we can control, and on the other side we were to write five things we cannot control. Try it! It was more difficult than I imagined. In regards to my professional endeavors it brought clarification to my priorities and values.
Five things I can control:
- Whether or not I fix a mistake
- How I use my time
- How I care for my body
- Whether I accept or reject a given opportunity
- My personal investment
Five things I cannot control:
- The commitment and integrity of others
- The response of the audience
- Future offers
After sharing these in class we were able to brainstorm ways of creating control for what I deemed uncontrollable. We were figuring out ways of changing uncertainty to predictability. Steve Martin’s wife asked the financial advisor, “If I have the money, can I buy something?” to which the advisor responded, “Yes!” As a group we will inventory who we are and who we know. We will decide the maximum we are willing to lose and the minimum we are willing to gain. We are going to reduce the risk by making success happen rather than avoiding failure. This process will become more clear as we begin doing it. Next class is when we start our brainstorming. This is where we begin our process of making ideas and discovering effectual entrepreneurship.