The Entrepreneurial Process
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“The Entrepreneurial Process” by William D. Bygrave ( link) is a well-written piece that encompasses and explains simply how a start-up business is formed. His quote of Joseph Schumpeter’s definition of an entrepreneur is apt in capturing the entrepreneurial spirit to “destroy the existing economic order” and introduce a new product, service, system or material exploitation. Bygrave is also accurate in saying that the entrepreneurial process is not an accidental one but one that can be taught and developed. However if entrepreneurs are not accidental and can be influenced negatively or positively by external factors, the question now asked is how then is the environment of entrepreneurship in the world since Bygrave have refined on the process of entrepreneurship? This article shall focus primarily on a few of the many points mentioned by him and comment on it. I shall also use my hometown of Singapore, one of the fastest growing Startup hubs as a reference.
Bygrave mentions that the decision on whether one pursues a new enterprise is dependant on factors like “career prospects, family, friends, role models, state of economy and availability of resources.” He then goes on to mention that there is always a “triggering event” that pushes the would-be entrepreneur to take that first step out. In his article, he pinpointed career prospects as an example. In many countries, the bleakness of future career progression is a main driving factor for one to begin entrepreneurship.
However my hometown of Singapore does not reflect this and that has birthed many new entrepreneurs despite the positive career prospects here. Since independence there has been rapid growth in both the manufacturing and banking sectors that has created an overwhelming amount of jobs. With such good opportunities available there is no need for one to step out of their comfort zone. Ironically, it is this rapid growth that has attracted entrepreneurs from neighboring countries to come to Singapore. These migrants often are less trained and therefore less able to enter into the big companies. However they adapt by setting up small-medium enterprises (SME) to meet the needs of the big corporations and which has built up a significant mass in SMEs in Singapore.
In the 21st century, this has changed significantly as our neighboring countries are also rapidly developing and have increased their standards of living. Many of the migrants coming to Singapore are highly educated and now compete with Singaporeans for the same big corporation jobs. As the supply of trained professionals increase faster than the human resource demand of large corporation, it is getting harder and harder for local Singaporeans to get well paying large corporation jobs. This has caused many Singaporeans to sit back and consider starting their own business.
Thus a reversal of roles is now taking place. More local Singaporean SMEs are being formed while large corporation jobs are being filled with foreign talents.
Thus, I can conclude that career prospects is not a factor that pushes one to entrepreneurship.
An interesting point that is raised by Bygrave is that the core of the enterprises is from their present line of employment or experience. This is true for Singapore since many of the successful Singapore companies are in the electronics industry that was one of the first big industries in Singapore. It is interesting now that the recent mega success enterprises are in the food and beverage industry. Thus cementing the fact that Singaporeans like to eat.
The massive success of these F&B start-ups actually demonstrates that the basis of deciding what is the core of successful new enterprises is deeper than past experiences. Malcolm Gadwall in this book “Outliers” mentions that a person has to perform an activity ten thousand times to become an expert. John C Maxwell wrote in his book “ Talent is not enough” that a person is not born an expert and that effort is needed to develop from gifting to talent. Both authors however agree that passion is the driving force that makes one got from competent to expert. This is true since ancient times till now.
In the context of this report, a good entrepreneur pursues past experiences, a great entrepreneur pursues his passion.
Bygrave proposes the 10 Ds to describe the characteristics found in most entrepreneurs. I think the list describes very well the make-up of an entrepreneur and would be very useful to give rising entrepreneurs a list to understand which area they lack in or need to work harder in so as to succeed. This of course is not the magical formula to become an entrepreneur but rather guidelines that are good to follow.
An interesting point that was brought up here that I found interesting was that entrepreneurs like to be in charge of their own destiny. I personally known a few people who are motivated to entrepreneurship purely because they do not like working for people.
So although a very loose point, there is such thing as people born to entrepreneurs
I think the influence of role models or mentors are very important. Like Bygraves I believe that the influence of role models are very important and may have a massive influence of the regions that have many experienced role models. However I believe that this is an incomplete idea. There is a difference between role model and mentor. Many experienced entrepreneurs are good role models because of what they have done but may not be good mentors to bring up the next entrepreneur. Bygrave is using a Greek model of mentorship that indicates that a mentor is passing knowledge and experiences to the mentored. However a new way of thinking in this area is using what some experts call the Hebrew mentoring method. The mentor in the Hebrew method does not have to be experienced in the area he is mentoring but he is skilled in helping people develop and maximize their capabilities. In the world of soccer, the coach does not have to be an experienced soccer player to be an excellent coach.
The difference between the two models is important to the Singapore Entrepreneur Environment. Singapore needs to develop its Entrepreneurship Environment by not only connecting the inexperienced to the experienced or to resources. I believe the technology transfer industry especially Business Incubators can play a bigger role by focusing on developing the entrepreneur holistically.
An entrepreneur is going to start something that is novel so strictly speaking there is no one more experienced in that specific area. Many first time entrepreneurs cling on to their initial model or idea and hope that it will give them the success to last forever. However a successful entrepreneur is one who can adapt and consistently come out with even more new ideas to improve their current business or to start something brand new. Thus an important step should be an emphasis on methods to develop the entrepreneur and not just share “old war stories”. A good incubation center or technology transfer organization has to be able to mold future entrepreneurs to acquire a effective entrepreneurial mindset to adapt to future changes and effectively crystallize their next idea into market.
Good mentorship is key to a successful startup
I believe Bygrave has put the whole entrepreneurial process nicely into paper. Based on the points raised by him, the conclusion is that Singapore has a long way to go in our entrepreneurial ecosphere. In several areas we are still lagging. In other areas we are just different and would require a separate solution than other areas. I guess just like entrepreneurs invent new things, Singapore has to innovate and establish a novel entrepreneurial system in order to keep ourselves relevant and be the next entrepreneurial hub.
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