Learning entrepreneurship

I was listening the other day to an interesting IMD webcast by professor of Marketing, Stuard Read. It was free by the way. The purpose of the webcast was to kill some old myths about entrepreneurship like:

  • You need to have an MBA to be an entrepreneur
  • You need a business plan
  • You need to raise funds from capital riskers

During the webcast, Stuard Read, who is definitely an iconoclast, had at heart to show that all the above were myths that the vast majority of entrepreneurs never had and will most probably never need…

What did they have then? What set them apart which made it possible for them to start their own venture? They had a good dose of common sense, which they applied to create a prosperous business. How did the magic happen? They started by making an assessment of the means available to them in order to build a product (or a service), they did not try to raise funds, no, they tried to optimize the use of what they had readily available to them. What else? Once they had a product or a service, which they could build or deliver, they started to think about what they needed to bring it to market. Again they did not think about raising funds to start off a big promotion campaign, no they started small by leveraging their immediate network (family, colleagues and friends, neighbors…etc) and if the idea was good, the network was doing the rest.

What is the take-away? Some innovations have been so disruptive, so unexpected that it was basically impossible to foresee them. Not even our best marketing gurus would have guessed there was a market for them. The idea, the service or the product created its own market. There is no magical recipe for what will be the next big success story but one thing is sure, if you never try, it won’t be yours…

Someone during the webcast asked the question: “what is the difference between an inventor and an entrepreneur?”. An inventor made an invention and stopped there, the entrepreneur brings it to market. The entrepreneur can be an inventor… or not. An entrepreneur can nicely complement a great inventor, who does not know how to bring his or her ideas to market. The entrepreneur is not the capital risker in that case, the capital risker is just injecting cash and expecting a return on his investment. The entrepreneur is the one that will take the idea and make a business out of it.

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