Tap into the entrepreneur in you

Tap into the entrepreneur in you

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Tap into the entrepreneur in you

FROM THE START A student must understand that an entrepreneurial journey begins with  developing and demonstrating an attitude towards individual success and hard work.

Karsanbhai Patel came from nowhere to create Nirma detergent powder about three decades ago. He showed Hindustan Unilever and others that an unsatisfied group of people lived below their radar who wanted cheaper but effective washing powder. Nirma went on to become a legendary success story.

There are many such stories of successful people who became immortal by creating new products and services and transforming the way we live. Incidentally, they became very wealthy too. They spotted an unmet need and offered an innovative but acceptable solution to people. In the process, they took a calculated risk and convinced customers on the need to buy their solutions.

We may have many Karsanbhais around in different industries and markets. They have the passion to innovate and win. They do not give up easily, and are prepared to work hard and face hardships. They are entrepreneurs, and these qualities reflect the essential meanings of entrepreneurship.

Several psychologists, sociologists, economists, and management researchers have given us a list of behavioural attributes for an entrepreneur. The most essential ones  among them are:

*Passionate about doing something new or about a specific idea
*Confident about winning
*Persistent with the idea and actions to accomplish the goal
*Persuasive to win the support of others
*Hard working and extracting work from others
*Adaptable to situations
*Team-oriented and innovative
*Optimistic and not giving up in the face of difficulties
* Ability to manage risk
*Relevant technical and managerial skills

The extent to which these qualities are required, and in what combination, to become a successful entrepreneur obviously varies, depending on the external environment and challenges involved in converting the idea into a commercially attractive product or service.

Can entrepreneurship be taught?

As noted above, entrepreneurship involves a combination of attitudes, skills, and knowledge (ASK) and is hence difficult to teach. These can certainly facilitate the development of these capabilities. In that sense, educational institutions can provide the inputs for students to become entrepreneurs, though it may not be taught in conventional way.

How can it be achieved?

Most entrepreneurs not only innovate but also get involved in execution. Some work with established organisations to realise their dream, while others quit managerial responsibilities on the way. It is useful to understand the differences in key capabilities required in an entrepreneur at different stages in the life of a business.

A student must understand that the entrepreneurial journey begins with developing and demonstrating an attitude towards individual success and hard work. This is the time when they start getting serious with ideas and spotting opportunities. It leads to the preparation of a business plan, often as an instrument to get an external funding.
However, the critical role of a good business plan lies in realising how much it can help the student think strategically and be aware of the possible pitfalls, whether external or family funding is involved or not.

In the process of building a business plan, students build not only analytical but also synthesise capabilities for starting and managing an enterprise. As projects get executed, students come to realise that several of the assumptions made earlier have to
be dynamically revisited and adjusted in the plan.

The capabilities required to manage the venture during the startup and growth stages and later are different. For example, most entrepreneurs learn to work on multiple fronts such as operations, accounts, finance, and marketing simultaneously in the start up phase. Later, they learn to recruit and delegate work to new team members. As entrepreneurs have to take minute-to-minute decisons on an ongoing basis, developing analytical and decision-making capabilities at all stages are very important, and that is what can be taught in entrepreneurship courses at B- schools.

We are experiencing a paradigm shift with tremendous interest and excitement growing among youngsters to pursue entrepreneurial careers. Today’s young buds have ideas, and determination to prove them. Naturally there is a growing demand for entrepreneurship education. It ranges from curiosity to understand what it is to serious enquiries for specific assistance. Educators’ responsibility is to guide them today.

Are you ready to play this crucial role?

(The writer is the Group Director at Accurate Institute of  Management and Technology)

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