What is entrepreneurship? This is the first question every curious mind thinks before embarking on this roller coaster journey.
Call them a rookie or novice who are planning to plunge into this messy yet glamorous world of power, position and money. They have many doubts and questions for instance, is entrepreneurship worth pursuing? Is it a right career move? What is the opportunity cost? Is entrepreneurship for me?
Some renowned scholars such as Stevenson and others in the Book “Chinese Entrepreneurship: A Social Capital Approach” by Peverelli et.al defined entrepreneurship as
Some interpret entrepreneurship as an art while others as a risky endeavor. Scholars even further try to nudge its meaning with complicated theories like causation and effectuation. Few even explain it with opportunity recognition. Although entrepreneurs call it the right career move, employees deem it as a disastrous option. It is just a way of perceiving things differently, for instance if you take a half filled glass of water it can be seen from two angles. First, it can be seen as half full or second, it could be seen as half empty. One can’t justify which is better as it depends on the mindset and perspective.
“Entrepreneur is a French word coined by the economist Jean-Baptiste Say, and usually is translated as, ‘adventurer’,” as mentioned by the Investopedia website.
Reid Hoffman, entrepreneur and LinkedIn Co-founder, said, “An entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down.” It is true for him as he too faced many challenges while trying different things, failing and learning every day and crafting his art of entrepreneurship just like Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and many other successful entrepreneurs.
Neil Petch, Chairman at Virtu group, in the article “The Five Stages Of Your Business Lifecycle: Which Phase Are You In?” on entrepreneur.com describes the various stages of business life cycles: seed and development, startup, growth and establishment, expansion, and maturity and possible exit. In the entrepreneurial journey, every entrepreneur faces different challenges unique to his own situation and, the expertise like leadership, divisive thinking, competition analysis, team building are crucial to counter them.
“Causation rests on logic of prediction, effectuation on the logic of control,” Sarasvathy explained in the research paper “Causation and Effectuation: Toward a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency”.
It is further beautifully explained by Sarasvathy with the help of examples.
“Imagine a chef assigned the task of cooking dinner. There are two ways the task can be organized. In the first, the host or client picks out a menu in advance. All the chef needs to do is list the ingredients needed, shop for them, and then actually cook the meal. This is a process of causation. It begins with a given menu and focuses on selecting between effective ways to prepare the meal. In the second case, the host asks the chef to look through the cupboards in the kitchen for possible ingredients and utensils and then cook a meal. Here, the chef has to imagine possible menus based on the given ingredients and utensils, select the menu, and then prepare the meal. This is a process of effectuation. It begins with given ingredients and utensils and focuses on preparing one of many possible desirable meals with them.”
I believe everyone knows the famous Indian folklore: Six Blind Men and an Elephant”.
First blind man upon touching elephant’s leg says that it is a big pillar, the second blind when touched the tail of the elephant, described it as a rope. The third one concluded that elephant is a flat animal upon touching its ear. Fourth blind man commented, “It is like a snake” when he touched elephant’s trunk. The fifth blind man sensed a big wall upon touching elephant’s belly. And the sixth blind man found out, “The elephant is like a pipe or spear” when he touched its spear. Finally, the man who had seen the elephant explained them about their fallacies and told them they were partially right but elephant has many more features than explained by you guys.
Now let’s picture, the elephant as entrepreneurship and blind man as novice entrepreneurs. This is a bizarre situation where each of them tries to understand and derive meaning while having restricted view hence building a wrong understanding of it since they are blind and can’t see.
The research paper “Is There an Elephant in Entrepreneurship? Blind Assumptions in Theory Development” by William B. Gartner explained entrepreneurship with an analogy of “Six Blind Men and an Elephant” fable. In this story every blind man has its own explanation to describe the elephant when each one of them touch it and hence ends up in debate and fighting over what is right.
Similarly in entrepreneurship, it depends on your subjective experience which can be true or false or partial, who knows until you do it. It is a journey where one has to experiment and learn every day. Something will work for you and something will not. But you need to respect others’ opinion and decide for yourself what is good for you.
First and foremost thing to know in entrepreneurship is that not everyone is a superstar, there are many who have been doomed too. It is not a race but a marathon where one needs to take so many small steps to complete the marathon. Usually people think that they will give it a try for 1 or 2 years and if they become successful they will continue, else drop it and go for a job. What they have to understand is, it is not a compulsion but a choice about what life you want.
Do you love to learn new things? Are you an experimenter? Do you have passion to pursue it for a lifetime? Are you a self-motivator? Can you work for free and not get demotivated? Certainly for the first few months? Well try to answer these questions eloquently and then decide. Finally ask yourself: Is entrepreneurship worth pursuing?
Do not forget to share what you think about entrepreneurship. Did you ask the right questions before becoming an entrepreneur?