When deciding on an entrepreneurial venture, we are often told to “Forget yourself and go to work”, which is easier said than done. We are so involved in our day to day activities that we forget the important things that matter most to us.
An entrepreneurial venture gives us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the things that should matter most to us. We should learn to consider dreaming bigger dreams and a social path to entrepreneurship.
Dreams are a natural part of our lives and sometimes our dreams are not the same dreams our parents had for us. Can we be true to ourselves when we decide on an entrepreneurial venture?
We can be true to ourselves when we choose companions on our journey that complement us and support us when we need support. In the book, Hero’s Journey, the authors use a number of stories to illustrate the value of good companions. Reverend Robert Sirico tells a story about two women walking through a beautiful garden. The one woman is badly crippled and is supported by her friend. The friend is blind but is led by her cripple friend. The moral of the story is that neither would be able to enjoy the garden on their own because of their disabilities, but together, supporting each other, they could.
In the same book, Jeff Sandefer tells us to choose our fellow travelers on our entrepreneurial journey well. He provides us with three lessons he has learned from his mistakes of the past (page 56):
- Surround yourself with people of integrity
- Surround yourself with people who are optimistic
- Surround yourself with people who are passionate
Writing in the Harvard Business Review in 1985, the authors Howard H. Stevenson and David E. Gumpert discuss what entrepreneurship is and how entrepreneurial principles can be applied within a company. The authors examine whether entrepreneur behavior can exist in a large company, where behavior such as innovation, flexibility, and creativity are acceptable.
They identify two types of managers at the extreme ends of the entrepreneur standard. At one end they have the promoter type of manager who is confident of their ability to seize opportunities. This manager is flexible enough to expect surprises and with the capacity to adjust to the change, capitalize on it, and make things happen. The administrative type of manager is the opposite of the promoter. They feel threatened by change and the unknown, and prefer to rely on the status quo.
When confronted with changes in the industry, the promoter manager approaches the situation by establishing;
- Where is the opportunity
- How do I capitalize on it
- What resources do I need
- How do I gain control over them
- What structure is best
On the other hand, the typical administrator type of manager reacts by asking:
- What resources do I control
- What structure determines our organization’s relationship to its market
- How can I minimize the impact of others on my ability to perform
- What opportunity is appropriate
Being the boss and being financially self-sufficient is enough to stimulate an individual towards the pursuit of opportunity. However, a society can also stimulate development of entrepreneurship. We can support government policies that encourage the development of new businesses. Decisions regarding taxes and regulations can encourage the establishment of many new businesses.
Companies can also promote entrepreneurial leadership by using an approach such as:
- Determine its barriers to entrepreneurship
- Seek to minimize risks to the individual for showing entrepreneurial behavior
- Exploit any resource pool
- Tailor reward systems to the situation
The authors conclude that it is much easier and safer to stay with the status quo, doing what they always did to be successful. However, as society, industries, and technology changes, companies will only be able to adapt and grow in this volatile business climate by encouraging change and experimentation.
Taylor Richards, founder of Taylor Boats and speaking to students at the Rollins Center at BYU on March 21, 2011, encouraged the students to “thing big”. He described his feelings when his company was voted number 11 in the top 100 boat distributors in North America. That year it was important just to be recognized. The second year they stretched themselves and were voted #6. He said that it is the same amount of work to be good as it is to be great. Think big and be great.
Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Products & User Experience at Google (May 17, 2006) spoke about entrepreneurial thinking and innovation. She said that passion and momentum increase when skilled employees have access to great tools and time to stretch them into new directions. She said that Google set aside 20 percent of an employee’s time for creative projects. She concluded, saying that nearly half of the company’s most recent launches came from ideas generated during this unstructured time.
Kathy Huber is an MIT graduate and built the early hardware infrastructure for the internet. She says that it is exciting to create something, bring it to market, and watch other people use it in their daily lives. She has had setbacks in her life; the dot com crash brought down her startup company Ironbridge networks but her characteristics of responsibility, tenacity and perseverance served her well as she got up and moved to her next entrepreneurial venture.
Jim Ritchie spoke about our emotional fingerprints. He shared a story about each of us being driven by two wolves. The evil wolf encourages us to have anger, sorrow, regret, greed, guilt, lies, pride, etc. The good wolf fosters joy, love, peace, serenity, kindness, empathy, truth, compassion, etc. Which wolf wins? The one we feed says Ritchie. He says that there are seven emotional characteristics that each of us possesses and by determining what ours are will help us make better decisions, have better relationships, and be more productive.