This is an experiment which I hope will develop and be picked up by others. Call it a debate, if you like. It is designed to add value to the community by taking excellent content, as these two posts are, then encouraging originality of thought in anyone who cares to join in.
It is not mandatory but in order to ret this, reading both will help!
Images: Bill Gates on Twitter, Virgin Mobile
Entrepreneurs, to me, are born, not made. I am referring to the concept that ‘self’ is well set by the age of 7 (see Trust post). The capacity to not just see an opportunity in business but to have the capacity to execute the plan and see the idea through to maturity is only held by very few.
It should also be noted that all entrepreneurs have their failures. Whether it be Sir Richard Branson (Virgin) or Bill Gates (Microsoft), they have had to retreat from bold ideas.
According to Forbes Magazine, 90% of start-ups fail. This bears scrutiny and the numbers suggest that there are an enormous number of people who believe they have what it takes but do not.
According to Small Business Trends, failure is primarily due to:
• Incompetence: 46%;
• Unbalanced experience or lack of managerial experience: 30%;
• Catchall category (includes neglect, fraud, and disaster): 13%; and
• Lack of experiences in line with the business: 11 percent.
Image: museu del rock.com
Referring back to @dragosroua’s article, if your idea has not been tried before, there are two good questions: ‘why?’ and ‘why not?’
Trying not to pre-empt this excellent series, there are necessary skill sets which many entrepreneurs simply do not have.
A good friend of mine, who is a successful entrepreneur in the advertising industry, was the youngest ever Creative Director of an International Agency. Recognising his deficiency in certain skills, he sacrificed a part of his salary in order to hire an assistant. Not many 21 year olds would do that! He went on to build a $billion+ diversified marketing services group.
There are many people who have entrepreneurial aspirations and simply have self-belief beyond the capacity of their knowledge. The impetuousness of youth, one might surmise. Here is the reality (US): 51% of owners of small businesses are 50-88 years old, 33% are 35-49 and only 16% are 35 years old and under.
Another key ingredient to understand is that over 80% of start-ups eventually buckle under the pressures of cashflow.
A Parliament of Owls; Image: miamidiscounttours.com
The blatantly absent ingredient is knowledge.
My lasting impression of @thewisesloth’s excellent post is that the gathering of knowledge tends to be driven in most people by need. Much as I agree that this is a very fair and honest account, I also find it sad.
The value placed upon the acquisition of knowledge seems to be overshadowed by an attitude which I call: ‘too cool for school.’ In other words, it is apathy which dominates, as opposed to desire.
Appreciation for the pursuit of knowledge is a fundamental part of education. The early years of school should be about learning to learn. This might sound odd but if one starts off on the right foot, success is more likely.
Learning to learn then should graduate into the engagement with concepts and their application (science, language, literature, economics, politics). The ultimate goal in pure education is a Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy. Many people wonder why one can become a Doctor of Philosophy in, say, Nuclear Chemistry. A classical education would tell you that ‘philo’ (Ancient Greek for love) and ‘sophos’ (Ancient Greek for wisdom), hence: ‘love of wisdom’.
Image: Equation Michigan Technological University
The acquisition of knowledge functions to different levels of application: survival, personal success, community/peer recognition, community/wider community enrichment are some examples.
The base level concerns ‘self’. As the progression continues, things become more ‘selfless’. Ph.D.s are not handed out for reasons of self. They are handed out to those who express originality of thought leading to a better understanding and application in some aspect of the human condition.
@thewisesloth used a broken down car as his analogy. Fixing the car so you can go to the football match is base camp. Fixing the car so you can take your daughter and her three friends to watch some ghastly boy band is second base. Realising that the car could be fixed in a completely radical way, causing a reduction in the environmental impact of the journey to and from the concert … now you are in Ph.D. territory.
Some would say that the concert is not worth going to … for the betterment of mankind; go to the fridge a grab a beer … another debate!
Fusing the themes of the two posts, I am drawn to the fusing of knowledge and wisdom. Within ’wisdom’, I would include experience as a primary ingredient.
Starting a business is terribly easy in most countries. A few clicks and some simple online form filling and you are registered. Understanding the steps to success entails a great deal of knowledge and wisdom.
If you do not have the necessary knowledge, wisdom and capacity to execute those two pre-requisite attributes, as demanded by your business idea, get learning and get advice, ideally a mentor.
Such personal attributes are often expressed as the EQ (Emotional Quotient) vs IQ (Intelligence Quotient). I have a paper in progress discussing the ways in which this argument has developed.
The Hunter becomes the Hunted; Image: Piximus
Observations of the fates of start-up businesses exposes the least considered aspect of management: Risk. It seems that many entrepreneurs are operating like a hunter, out to catch the family dinner without first understanding the terrain, the habits of his quarry and the other animals which might be hunting the same quarry … or him!
I hope this interface between two terrific posts has stirred your thoughts, rather than purely expressed mine. I want a Ph.D., not an excuse to go to the fridge!
One final aspirational thought: Why does Bill Gates contribute so much of his wealth and time to his extremely successful Foundation? Given that this is the Ph.D. phase, should entrepreneurs not reverse engineer their businesses from this point?
All Rights Reserved. ©Edward Bryans. No unauthorised reproduction of this post in whole or in part is permitted without the express written consent of the author