Stage 1: LEARNING ABOUT ENTREPRENEURSHIP
"To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart." Thomas Watson Sr.
What is entrepreneurship?
Simply put, entrepreneurship is the process of designing, creating, developing and managing a business venture along with any of its risks to generate profit. Nowadays, entrepreneurship is also about transforming the world by solving big problems.
Who is an entrepreneur?
Simply put, an entrepreneur is the person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money. However, there is a debate on whether the entrepreneur carries an additional connotation of far-sightedness and innovation. The celebrated economist, Joseph Schumpeter perceived an entrepreneur as a person having the willingness and the ability to convert a new idea or invention into a successful innovation.
What makes a good entrepreneur? Do personal abilities play a role?
Many people are dreaming to become entrepreneurs, but they get disappointed very quickly. Some of the personal abilities entrepreneurs should develop in order to make their dream a reality are: passion, persistence, good health and high energy, creativity, independence and self-reliance, intuition, self-confidence, willingness to work hard, effective time management, professionalism, communication skills, networking.
What is a business idea?
A promising business always starts with a business idea. A business idea is a concept that can be materialized into a product or service and be offered for money. A business idea is the first milestone in the process of building a successful business and the base of the pyramid to the business as a whole.
What is innovation?
Innovation is defined as "the applied use of knowledge for the purpose of producing and/or offering new or improved products, processes and/or services that find immediate productive, useful and/or commercial application". Also, as defined in the Oslo 1 Handbook, according to the content of the European Commission Communication of 11 March 2003 on innovation policy, the concept of innovation includes both technological and non-technological and organizational innovation. Innovation can therefore refer to a new product or process or service, to the way they are produced or to the technology used, as well as to the administrative structure of an organization (internally or externally in relation to customers or consumers). The Innovation can be technological, but also non-technological.
Will my business work?
Unfortunately, there are no magic tricks for a business idea to become a successful business. This depends on the combination of multiple factors both internal and external. A concrete and well thought business plan can be defined as your unique blueprint for your own success. By projecting three to five years of your business’ future, your business plan articulates your business goals and clarifies in specific details your path to achieve these goals.
A great assessment before you start your business is to quickly review the following questions:
What needs does the product/service fulfil? Besides the practical answer of what my product does, I should define what does my product offer to my potential customers. For example, if I sell coffee, do I use biodegradable cups? Does this impact the way people see my company? How is it different? – What makes my product different from my competitors? What is the value I add, which will bring customers to me?
Who will buy it? A very common mistake potential entrepreneurs do is to answer ‘Everyone is my customer’. This is not always the case; think of a product that you consume e.g., milk, does every single person you know consumes milk? By defining a specific target group, you will be able to define who is your customer and where you can reach them.
Where will it be sold/offered? Try to identify of any possible channels you can use to sell your products. Let’s take the example of a coffee shop, is the shop the only place the owner can sell products? Does social media such as Facebook and Instagram business pages count as channels? Are there any other online ways such as food marketplaces (ex. e-food.gr) where the owner can sell any products? Keep in mind that every channel may bring in different customers.
When will it be ready to be sold/offered? What steps should I follow to have my product or service ready? Have I found my suppliers? Have I found my delivery option? Have I found my shop or office?
How will it be promoted and sold/offered? What marketing actions am I planning to promote my products or services? For example, will I use Facebook as a channel to advertise my business? Will I use traditional advertising means such as radio, magazines? How much will the cost? How many customers do I expect to reach? What increase in my revenues do I expect
Why do businesses succeed?
Not all business have a happy ending. Follow the below sequence and you will understand how everything is connected and how your business can achieve greater success. Preparation and good planning is the key for every business. Entrepreneurs should have a clear sense of purpose when answering the question why does my business exist? To offer something unique, you should understand your customers’ needs and how your product or service makes the difference. To understand the customers’ needs the validation is the main step every potential entrepreneur should take. Understand the industry and competition. Keep a close eye on costs, pricing and profit.
Why do businesses fail?
Approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of operation for various reasons, such as lack of business planning and poor management skills. Entrepreneurs may also fail to understand the market, or to listen to their customers and change their products or services based on the market needs. Moreover, miscalculation of prices, lack of cost control, poor accounting records and lack of a good team may also lead to failure.
What about money?
Entrepreneurs can turn to different funding sources: Savings (self-funded), funding organizations, sponsorships, grants, Europeans grants ESPA, loans. You can find more information in the section Funding my business.
Top 10 Rules of Entrepreneurial by Peter Jones
#1 Have a Vision/Purpose – Dream Big! Your vision is your destination. You’ll need a map to help you reach that destination, which will be made up of goals and results. The vision / purpose is the vital part, otherwise, you won’t know where (and why) you are heading and your goals will be irrelevant.
#2 Use Your Influence – Win-Win Outcome All businesses need business partners to grow. Entrepreneurs know the importance of filling the gaps and weaknesses in their own skill set or business idea, by finding the parts of the jigsaw puzzle to create the best chance of success.
#3 Build Your Confidence – Inner Self Belief If you don’t believe in yourself or your idea, why should anyone else? Gain confidence through gaining experience, skills and knowledge. Change your perception of failure to realise that it provides feedback. Feedback provides essential learning to help know what not to do the next time.
#4 Make a Commitment – Work Hard Committing to follow through once a decision is made in an invaluable ally on your road to success. Be prepared to work hard and make sacrifices. Commit to a common goal and make it happen, but commit to yourself and your health too.
#5 Aim for Results – Energy Entrepreneurs make things happen. They are driven by results. Planning for your success is as important as achieving success. You need to know exactly how you got there so your success can be duplicated, scaled up and multiplied.
#6 Take Actions – Just Do Action is the bridge between your vision and the results. Action involves figuring out how to get from where you are now to where you want to be. Without action there would be no results.
#7 Timing Understanding and anticipating the changing needs of the market and partners is crucial, timing when to enter a market or not will help optimize success, as will knowing the right time and circumstances to start your business.
#8 Perseverance – Determination Entrepreneurs go the extra mile. Perseverance, sheer determination and tenacity are core characteristics of the mindset of an entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs battle against all the odds to build their business and always appreciate when it is time to get out. Try to have flexibility to work outside your own comfort zones in order to bring your dreams to fruition.
#9 Be Caring – Invest in Relationships Relationship with people are key. Business and personal relationships should be cherished. Treat people how you yourself would want to be treated. Always remember that people are the lifeblood and the engine room of any business.
#10 Use Your Intuition – Gut Feelings Listen to your instincts. They can protect you from making poor business decisions and guide you down the right path.