How can we think about entrepreneurship?

In a previous post, we discussed some of the uncertainties of entrepreneurship. That is not to say that we should discourage entrepreneurship.

I believe that we live in a time of unprecedented access to resources that could help support a new enterprise taking off. I can’t speak for all parts of the world, but for many of you who are able to read this on a digital screen, you probably have relative ease of access to information from all over the world.

But if entrepreneurship requires us to face so many uncertainties, how can we think about entrepreneurship?

1. Embrace the uncertainties

The period of following a script for your life is over. Yes, life was simpler back then. Do well in the national examinations, then you will earn yourself choices – choices to do what you want with your life. Except that no one taught you how to make good decisions with the choices that you are faced with.

So if you can’t remove uncertainty from entrepreneurship, then learn to embrace it. Treat it as a worthy adversary that forces you to improve your game. Take risks, sure, but do your research well before you make decisions. Take small steps and test along the way. You know you can always change your direction later if you do not plunge headlong into a single unknown venture and get yourself stuck deep down a rabbit hole.

2. Meaning of entrepreneurship

What does entrepreneurship mean to you? To some, it could be running their one-person home bakery. To some, it could be engaged in the start-up world, pitching for investments and wanting to sell the company sometime in the future. To others, it could be building a global company with thousands of employees.

There are also clear distinctions that could be made. Are you a freelancer or an entrepreneur? Are you self-employed or a business owner? Learning more about how others categorise different forms of work that is not traditional employment might help you to clarify your idea of entrepreneurship.

3. Go slow – at least at first

The Hedgehog Concept is a concept discovered by Jim Collins that could help you develop a deep understanding of what you could be the best at. The concept is at the intersection of three questions that you could ask yourself (parentheses mine):

  1. What you can be the best in the world at? (Your talents and potential)
  2. What you are deeply passionate about? (Your passions)
  3. What drives your economic engine? (Your profit – can be measured in different ways)

In his book, Good to Great, Collins wrote that “it would be a terrible mistake to thoughtlessly attempt to jump right to a Hedgehog Concept” as getting to the “Hedgehog Concept is an inherently iterative process, not an event”1. In other words, it takes time to get it right. And until you get it right, it is like driving through the fog – you will probably kill yourself if you try to go too fast.

Before you jump right into a business, have you thought carefully about it? Do you have a strong reason why you want to go into business in the first place? I think simply to not have a boss telling you what to do or wanting more freedom of time are not reasons strong enough that will help you to push past challenges that will come your way.

1 Jim Collins, “Chapter 5 – The Hedgehog Concept – (Simplicity within the Three Circles),” Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t (HarperCollins, 2011).

(Featured Image: Hans-Olof Andersson on Unsplash)


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