Idea's space

This blog is dedicaded to share ideas coming randomly from my experiences

Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurship

Education and entrepreneurship

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Education is the foundation of enterprising mind

Recently, I was chatting with people talking about the fact that entrepreneurship should be taught to youth. In our present fast moving environment, jobs security become an utopia, compared to the past, and where diploma is still useful but not necessarily a guarantee of employment. Change is a constant, and people have to change also, to move with the change. Nothing is definitively acquired.

Such circumstances make that some people are pushed to find alternatives by starting they own activity, or decide to look for new opportunities in order to move their skills and experiences forward. Such evolution, where people are driven to become more dynamic and not static, implies a dynamic mind, where you need to determine personal objectives and a related strategy. Life become a serial of projects, and the development of these projects is the result of an entrepreneurial process.

In such circumstances, it is obvious that youth has to be sensitize to the entrepreneurship, and the opportunities entrepreneurship can bring, but there are in my mind first important steps. Before to become an entrepreneur, we have to become free human being. The most important element to conquer our freedom is education. Education is the foundation of our life. The more our education will be broad, the more we will have opportunities to choose our own way, our own objectives. But education is not only the accumulation of knowledge and skills, it is also the capacity to make judgements, to develop curiosity, to develop the wish to learn, to develop an open mind. A lot of people remember the famous Steve Jobs speech at the Stanford university, where he was encouraging students to be curious, and to learn a lot of things, even we can’t know beforehand if it will be useful, but that afterwards, you can make a link between different things you learned, you can connect the “dots”. All these ingredients, combined with the wish to realize project, to reach objectives, are the basics of an enterprising mind. This is probably the most essential step before to encourage youth to entrepreneurship. The objective of an enterprising mind is not only the wish to build a business, but to build projects and to shape achievements. This achievements can be a Ph.D. Thesis, the writing of a book, or to follow theater courses and become an actor.

By developing an enterprising mind, you become the actor of your own life, where you can make your own choices, defining your objectives. The most important is to get the possibility to make choices. And this step is essential if you want to become an entrepreneur. As you know, an entrepreneur can meet failure. Experienced entrepreneurs will advice you to get alternative plans in case of failure. Education is the tool that will bring you alternative plans. The more your education will be broad, the more you will have alternative plans, not only in your business, but in your life too.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

November 10, 2012 at 22:43

What if I fail?

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In my previous article, I was talking about an entrepreneur I met recently who was building her first project as entrepreneur. We talked about the fact that the entrepreneurship is always a risk, and that the chances to succeed and to fail exist. The possibility to fail is probably a important reason making that some people don’t want to take the risk of entrepreneurship.

As Peter Drucker said, to become an entrepreneur, you don’t need an entrepreneur character, but character only. A character able to face risk, looking for change, and seeing change as an opportunity. But the ability to face risk is not enough, you have to manage it too. When you start a project presenting risks, have always an alternative plan, and measure the level of risk you will not go over. These two conditions will make that you will take more easily risks and be able to take appropriate actions if you don’t succeed.

The character is not only a condition making that people are scared to become entrepreneur. Failure is ofter considered as negative by people around you, and failing people have a guilty feeling. Failure has to be seen as a fact and something you can learn from. Such experience is not useless for many reasons:

  • By launching your own activity, you will have to do a lot of things and to manage things you were not used to manage. You will develop skills and maybe discover hidden talents. This talents and skills are open doors to new opportunities,
  • In an entrepreneurship project, you meet people to take advices, to contract specific expertise. You will meet new environments, you build a network, with people who bring you advice, and maybe new ideas. These new ideas or advice you acquired are feeding your knowledge and experience. You will can use them for other projects, or in other contexts.
  • By analyzing the reason of your failure, you will identify your mistakes, and to develop alternative solutions or scenarios. Such analyze make that you will be ready to restart other projects on a more appropriate way, without repeating the same mistakes,
  • Your experience of failure can make that you could be a valuable partner for future projects, build with other partners. Expertise is most of the time acquired by experience,and failure is a part of experience and contributes to bring added value,

By having this in mind, failure doesn’t mean that you are back to the start point. You are just on an new start point, with more skills, more experience, making that failure is probably not an absolute necessity, but an experience you can use as a raw material to build new and stronger projects. By do not deciding to take the risk to launch your own project, you will not fail but you will not succeed too. Remember this quote I don’t remember the author: “There is no such thing as a failed entrepreneur. You are a failed entrepreneur only when you quit. Until then, you’re simply not successful yet.”

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 11, 2012 at 21:35

Is the entrepreneurship mind innate?

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Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder, a successful entrepreneur.

Our society is made of people having different kind of professions, as employee, state employees or independents. But as spoken already on this blog, some people are not really doing the job they like to do for many reason. They chose a job in function of some benefits, advantages or wrong beliefs, but are carrying their professional life as a burden. Probably that some of them have an entrepreneur mind and the capabilities to become entrepreneurs, but these beliefs or other people wrongly influencing them, make that these capabilities remain hide and unused. This question call another one: is entrepreneur mind something innate or something we can acquire?

A first important point is our social and educational environment. People are not equal on that level, and some social environments with low education are not fertile environment for the entrepreneurship mind development. Your family and so your social environment can contribute to such development if he wants to see your potential, your strong points and if he encourages you to use and to develop your potential, to identify your talents and your strong points. This will contribute also to be self-confident and so to face challenges. But do not forget that your environment have to subscribe to the fact that you have to do what you love to do and that their advice have to be based mainly on that value.

Another point is your character. Peter Drucker said that an entrepreneur mind is first a mind. The quality of an entrepreneur mind is to expand his knowledge, to be curious, to take decisions. An entrepreneur mind sees difficulties as opportunities. An entrepreneur mind is first a player, an actor and not a spectator. This implies to have a strong character, a leader character and not a follower character. We can link to that point that you have to know first who you are. Often, there are people who are wrongly influencing others, and stick wrong label on your back. They will tell you that you have not the capabilities to do something, and sometimes, wrongly influenced people are blocked because they believe what the others say about them, because they are not self-confident.

We could not forget also that you consider life as a range of projects and each project has a goal. To always have a goal is a source of motivation, and a source of potential opportunities.

A third factor that is playing a role in the entrepreneurship development is the political environment. By asking the question on a forum, a person answered me that in a country like USSR, the entrepreneurship was forbidden. And after the USSR fell down, a lot of brilliant people became successful entrepreneurs. Government have to play a key role in the promotion of entrepreneurship by implementing economical policies favoring the entrepreneurship development with tax incentives, but also by including the development of entrepreneurship mind in the educational programs.

What about our own experience? Our experience can make also that we decide one day or another to switch from an employee position to an entrepreneurship project. Each of us we have our own experiences, with things we loved and with negative remembers. Our present actions are lead by our passed experiences and by anticipation of the future. And in function of our passed experiences, some of us decide one day to become entrepreneur.

By mentioning al these points, it is difficult to answer to the asked question. Some people were always entrepreneurs, some people became entrepreneurs for several reasons and some people will never start as entrepreneur. Is the entrepreneur mind something innate or something we can acquire. Each reasons developed here before will contribute or not to the fact that we become or not entrepreneurs. I would say that there is probably a seed of entrepreneur in each of us, but this seed will grow if the needed and sufficient conditions are met.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 14, 2011 at 21:06

Success: reality or appearance?

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Success, reality or appearance?

In a previous post, I was talking about the meaning of success and trying to define what is success. In this post, I would like to talk about another aspect related to success , and I will handle it in the business area. Success in business is something each entrepreneur want to meet, because by definition it is rewarding, it means also that we are earning enough money to life from our activity. But does a positive image reflect always a success? In other word, does the image reflect the reality?

Let us be more concrete. In business magazine, you can read articles about some entrepreneurs, presenting their project. For a lot of people, the fact to have an article about you in a magazine is an evidence of success, and starting from this article, this positive image, they are concluding very quickly that the entrepreneur or the company mentioned here is a successful one. If you have a look to the article, you will notice that in fact, you do not know a lot of things about the success ..or the non-success of this company. The fact to have an article talking about you in a business magazine is always an good point in terms of marketing, to gain in visibility. An article is only a summary of the company or entrepreneur story, and a lot of informations are not told. I would like to take the example I red few times ago in a magazine related to employment and jobs. That magazine was publishing during several times, testimonials about people who decided one day to move to another job, another career. In this case I will refer to, it was a guy working in a bank since more than 15 years, who decided to move to a creative job. As he was very handy, he decided to launch a business of creation of furniture, objects with recycled materials. He explained that he was much more happy by this new activity than by his previous job as an accountant. You will note that by mentioning this, he is showing a positive image of himself and of his project. But in the article, it was not mentioned if he was earning enough money to live. But what he mentioned in this article is that he invested in real estate, bought 2 or 3 apartments he renovated himself, this apartments ensuring rent revenues and a financial security. This last element is important to be mentioned, because it will make you conclude on another way: we do not know if he is earning enough money from his new project, but he has other source of revenues allowing him to pursue his new activity, his objective.

I will tell you another example. I am used to attend entrepreneurship sessions, organized in Brussels on a monthly basis by the BetaGroup. In these sessions, web entrepreneurs are presenting their projects. The presentation is followed by a short question & answer session, and after presentation, people can talk about the projects or to make network. I was talking with entrepreneurs, and some of them were explaining to me the difficulties they had to reach the break even with their project, and for that reason, that they still had another job as web consultant or developer for big companies. We can see here different success levels: the product they wanted to develop is a success on a technical point of view, some of these projects are presented during the session, and also in business magazines, which is a marketing success. But as we know, the last and important success is the economical success.

There are two important things needed to be reminded when you want to develop a business. First, remind that to be an entrepreneur is a difficult task. There is no easy business. Entrepreneurship is always risky, but you can and you have to create alternative plan to ensure the needed revenue to live. It will need hard work, to combine the two activities if you ensure your revenues by an activity. It is up to you to elaborate your own alternative plan. The second point is to remember that your success has to be your own, matching with your values, the way you are seeing things. What I mean is that your alternative plans will be the one you can deal with and not the plan you copied from somebody else. But don’t hesitate to talk and share ideas with other entrepreneurs, with inspiring people who will advice and help you to build your own solutions, your own success.

BetaGroup website: http://www.betagroup.be

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 14, 2011 at 21:55

If you can dream it, you can do it.

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If you can dream it, you can do it - Walt Disney

This quote as title of this article was from Walt Disney. Recently, I was attending a presentation session for web entrepreneurs, organized by the Betagroup in the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels. The organizer of these sessions is used to end the session by telling a quote related to entrepreneurship. After the session, ending by a networking drink, I had the pleasure to talk with a freelance journalist about the experience of entrepreneurship. She was raising the question to know if the fact to dream about doing something is a sufficient condition to do something and to succeed. This question seems to be a bit naive, but it is not the case at all.

Today, we can attend a lot of coaching training sessions where some coaches says that everybody can do what he is dreaming and that he will succeed. I wrote on this blog an article about the fact to stay focused on your goal. I agree with the fact that if you do not believe in what you are doing, you will never reach your goal. But in order to succeed in the project or the job of your dreams, there are several conditions you have to keep in mind:

  • Do I have the talent for this? It is important to know about yourself, to clearly determine what are your strong points and your weaknesses. Peter Drucker was used to say that it is better to work on your strong point in order to go from the competence to excellence instead of to work on your weaknesses in order to go from the incompetence to the mediocrity. I would add that you can be able to play piano, but there is a huge difference between knowing to play piano and to be a piano player like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In a competition environment, you have to appear to be one of the best player.
  • Am I entrepreneur minded? To become entrepreneur is not only a change of social status, it is also a question of mind. An entrepreneur needs to have always a project in advance. He is somebody who wants to move things forward, who is curious and who has of course the entrepreneurship spirit.
  • Is there a market for the services I want to propose? You can not escape to that question. It is important to know if there are customer interested by your product or services and if they are ready to pay the requested price.
  • Are you ready to assume the risk linked to start as an entrepreneur? As you know, entrepreneurship is always risky. Are you ready to loose a part of your money if your project do not succeed? If you can not sleep anymore, it is because you invest probably a too big part of money in a project and you are scared to have a lack of revenues.
  • Have you an alternative plan? If you do not succeed, have you develop an alternative plan in order to still have revenues? I remember an article about a entrepreneur who launched his own activity after a 15 years employee career in a bank. This man was explaining that he invested a part of his money in two apartments he gave to rent, ensuring an alternative revenue in case of business failure.
  • Do not hesitate to ask advices to serious advisers. It is always an asset to have different points of view from professionals in different areas. There is more in few heads than in one. Make the difference between serious people and the others. The others are building time to time their own legend, or are telling you only their success and not their failures.

These points I mentioned are important to maximize your chance to realize your entrepreneurship dreams. If you can dream it, you can do it, but stay in contact with the reality and be creative.

Interesting links for entrepreneurs: http://www.betagroup.be/ – http://www.westartup.eu/

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

January 27, 2011 at 00:38

Entrepreneurship, a freedom space?

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Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, a successful entrepreneur.

If some of you are entrepreneurs, you have probably already heard some people saying that when you are entrepreneur or self-employed, you are free to do what you want. Is it true or is it an idea shared by people dreaming to become entrepreneur but who are scared to start such adventure?

To become an entrepreneur is not only a change of social status. The first question to be put is what I want to do in my life, what are my interests, for which reason would I become an entrepreneur? Is it to have a better life, to earn more money, to work in a way you like to work? These are the main questions to be asked because your professional and entrepreneurial life will be a part of your personal life and will have interaction with your private life.

To become entrepreneur means that you will have to manage a range of things. This is an important change compared to an employee. When you work as employee in a company, you are only taking care about the things under your responsibilities. If you are responsible for the accounting, you will not take care about marketing or IT aspects. When you are self-employed, you have to manage everything. You will probably delegate some tasks which are not your core business to more qualified contractors, but do not forget that you have to hold the lead of what you are subcontracting. You are the boss, the owner of your own company and you have the responsibility of the whole processes.

Be aware also that your life as entrepreneur or self-employed will be a range of successive projects. And as you know, a good entrepreneur has always one or two projects in advance. We are living in a fast moving environment, implying to offer the better services based on up-to-date competences. It means that the training aspects are important, and you have to forecast regular training sessions, or time dedicated to read documentation.

And what about the financial aspects? Often, I heard some entrepreneurs having good projects, having customers, who felt in bankruptcy because they neglected the financial aspects. If you are looking to the last 30 years or more, you can see that the trend of the economy is going up and down. When we are in a positive trend, put your earnings in reserve in order to be able to face the more difficult period, and in order too to invest in research and development, to offer new innovative products and services.

Is entrepreneurship a freedom space? It is a fact that by discussing with entrepreneurs, we brought up to the fact that to be entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to realize your project without to be blocked by “political” constraints. By defining a project and fixing objectives, you will be free to choice the most appropriate way to your eyes, to realize the project and to reach the defined target.

The freedom you have to choice the way you will lead your project allows you to be creative, and creativity is a freedom you decide to take. Does it mean that you have all the ingredients to realize your project, by having only the freedom to realize it and to create something? You will probably need some partners, financial partners or technical partners in order to realize the parts of the project you cannot do yourself. These partners will have to be convinced by your project, your ideas. The presentation aspect of your project is important, and it takes a lot of energy and effort to convince the others to support your project, even if you are convinced yourself, which is a necessary condition.

All of us, we saw successful entrepreneurial projects, which are the fruit of efforts and determination. But we saw also other failing projects. To be entrepreneur means always to take some risk. You can of course calculate and evaluate the risks you are or you want to take, but there are always parameters you cannot have under your control. The risk will be also proportional to the scope of your project. It depends also the level of your target and objectives which will be also proportional to the scope of your business. If you want only work 3 days a week instead of a full week, you will earn less money, or you will have to provide higher quality level services if you want to earn the same amount. In this case, you see a proportion between the level of added value services and the income you want to get.

By conclusion, I would say that entrepreneurship is a freedom space, but the most important is to know how you define the freedom. The only freedom you have when you are entrepreneur, is the freedom to choose your constraints.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

August 19, 2010 at 22:49

Colorier en dehors des lignes (G.Noels)

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Geert Noels

 

Geert Noels is a very appreciated Belgian economist. Former chief economist of the brokerage cabinet Petercam, he launched his own company Econopolis (http://www.econopolis.be)

I found an article published in the magazine Trends-Tendances. The article talking about entrepreneurship is written in french, but very interesting : http://trends.rnews.be/fr/economie/opinion/chronique-tendances/colorier-en-dehors-des-lignes/opinie-1194686774342.htm

Please feel free to leave comments !

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

March 11, 2010 at 13:06

Posted in Business

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