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How did I Become an Entrepreneur- A Reflection 4

HOW DID I BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR- A REFLECTION

Student:

Introduction

The Entrepreneurship 6349 course has really transformed me into an entrepreneur in various ways. First, I have learned and plan to improve on skills such as creativity, innovation and effective communication. I have also developed an appreciation of management training in finance, human resource, strategy development and marketing skills. Entrepreneurs need to be effective all-rounded managers who can transform ideas into successful enterprises (Al-Mubaraki et al, 2014). The unit’s readings including “One simple Idea” have been vital sources of theoretical concepts and knowledge about entrepreneurship to me. I have also gained substantially from the biweekly workshops that have addressed developments in the world of entrepreneurship and business in the modern world. The Unit has made me even more interested in great entrepreneurial stories as my sources of inspiration. In this journal, I have discussed various elements of the Entrepreneurship 6349 unit and how they have made me to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset and approach to doing business.

Skills, Knowledge, and attributes required to be an entrepreneur.

Being an entrepreneur is very different from starting and running a small business. Entrepreneurship entails coming up with creative ideas that solve every-day problems in society [ CITATION Kev15 l 1033 ]. Entrepreneurs are naturally gifted with creativity and ability to transform innovative ideas into successful businesses. An entrepreneur must have financial, marketing and human resource skills to transform an idea or an abstract concept into a profitable business. The most difficult part of a business is during its transition from an idea or concept into a real business that can generate revenue or achieve a social course [ CITATION Chu83 l 1033 ]. This means that the entrepreneur just have attributes such as courage to take risks and remain loyal to original ideas. Entrepreneurs must also exhibit assertive leadership in their young businesses in order to rally people around a vision, strategy and cultural orientation that are likely to realize the dream the entrepreneur has in mind. As I was reading through articles in sites such as Inc.com and Entrepreneur.com, I related most of the entrepreneurial stories with the key points in Week 2 lectures. I realized that entrepreneurship is more about persistence and a strong desire to succeed where others doubt. Apart from persistence, I also believe entrepreneurs are knowledgeable people. Entrepreneurs gather a lot of information relating to their fields of interests and business management in order that they may be able to exploit enterprise opportunities successfully.

Reading Summaries

The entrepreneurship readings have particularly been very helpful to me on how to become an entrepreneur and not simply a “small business owner”. Week one readings stressed on the fact that entrepreneurship is about acquiring knowledge and finding a way of connecting it with a solution for a real-world problem. It follows then, that creative and innovative problem solving are part of entrepreneurship (O’Connor et al, 2012). I had previously thought entrepreneurship is the act of starting and operating a business, however, week one and three readings broadened my understanding of entrepreneurship as a combination of knowledge, creativity, innovation and motivation to meet a need.

Week 12 and 13 readings on types of entrepreneurs also enlightened me on how entrepreneurship in society can be achieved differently, for example, intrapreneurs can help established businesses develop new products or implement innovative ideas and projects (Drucker, 2014). Social entrepreneurship is also a very exciting type of entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship is about using entrepreneurial skills and abilities to solve social problems such as lack of clean water (Chen et al, 2016). I would be very proud to participate in such an enterprise as it is a service to humanity that does not pursue profitability. Week-13 readings also expounded on different types of business legal statuses. This is very important to me as I need to understand the implications of every status to the business. I also learnt that a company is expensive to set up and maintain. This may be the reason why about a majority of small enterprises in countries such as Australia (49%) are sole proprietorships [ CITATION Aus16 l 1033 ]

Book review

I found the book “One Simple Idea” by Stephen Key to be really thought-provoking. Key (2011) emphasized on the need to transform simple ideas to big problems into huge business success. Key further stressed on the need for proper communication, creativity and innovation in creative problem-solving. According to Key (2011), the true spirit of entrepreneurship is continuous generation of innovative ideas that can be adopted by existing or start-up companies. However, I agree with authors such as Spinelli & Adams (2012) and Gudmundsson (2011), that an entrepreneur’s skills, abilities and persistence are critical to the success of an entrepreneurial venture. This means that ideas alone do not define entrepreneurship. Good ideas backed by strong entrepreneurial skills and abilities translate into business success. Entrepreneurs define the culture and functional strategies that should support their ideas and vision for a company. All the same, I do concur with Key (2011) that successful exploitation of ideas is the defining theme of entrepreneurship.

Weekly lectures

The weekly lectures in my Entrepreneurship 6349 class have been very informative to me. Actually I consider myself to be at am better position to manage an entrepreneurial venture than I was before attending this class. I agree with discussions of week two lectures relating to creativity and innovation being a strong pillar of entrepreneurship. I had an idea that entrepreneurs need to take risks and lead from the front to achieve their vision. This is what Steve Jobs and Jack Ma did with apple and Ali Baba respectively[ CITATION Pet14 l 1033 ]. However, I had underestimated the critical role of creativity, innovation and knowledge utilization in transforming potential ideas into businesses. The lecture on human resource management in entrepreneurial firms also refined my understanding of the role of employees in the success or failure of entrepreneurial ventures. I am now more convinced that entrepreneurs should regard strategic human resource planning as a critical issue that requires similar level of attention as it is the case with factors such as product development and cost reduction. Week seven’s lecture on business planning and service operations management was very informative. I learnt that service design should be defined by the customers’ needs and expectations and the goals of a business. Week seven’s lecture also enlightened me on various risks such as financial, career, family and psychic risks that entrepreneurs must be prepared to handle effectively.

Workshops

I have gained a lot of knowledge and insight into entrepreneurial, creativity and communication concepts from the biweekly workshops in the Entrepreneurship 6349 class. Week one’s workshop activities included self assessment tests that I used to understand my characteristics and how they relate to the attributes of entrepreneurs. I am a creative person, however, I need to take more risks in future to fail and learn from failure. I consider myself an “original” I procrastinate a lot on something, mostly to find ideas on how it can be done differently. According to the TED video by Adam Grant in week 9, originals tend to postpone tasks and in the process incubate fresh ideas of accomplishing the tasks differently. Week 3 Workshop activities emphasized networking and communication. I found Alex Rister’s blog on “First Impressions” to be very informative on how aspects such as posture, expressions, gestures and clothing can be used to compliment our verbal communication. I also have a deeper appreciation of the role social media in connecting people and ensuring ideas and information flows freely. Clearly, we leave in the information age where technology changes how we communicate, share ideas and do business.

ICT & Social Media

The internet and social media have been very reliable sources of information on business trends around the world. I am particularly an avid reader of CNN Money, Business Insider, The Economist, Sydney Morning Herald and The Entrepreneur Magazine. I am able to access this sites to read about current business news and emerging trends. Issues of global significance such as the 2008 financial crisis and the euro zone economic instability received very in-depth analysis by various sites on the internet. I am able to get a macro understanding of the factors facing businesses by accessing information from such sites. I believe entrepreneurs and small business owners should use the internet as an important source of information. Social media sites such as facebook and twitter have helped me maintain a circle of friends and associates whom I share the same passion for entrepreneurship with. I have sold some gadgets including a PlayStation via my facebook page. I believe social media will change how brands relate with consumers. Social media may also be an important channel to market and advertise products for small businesses.

Communication and networking

As have conducted several interviews with small business owners in Canberra to understand the challenges and opportunities they encounter in their entrepreneurial journey. I mostly discuss industry and general business environment with Chinese restaurants owners. I love eating pout in Chinese restaurants and would love to own one such business in the future. From the several interviews and informal discussion I have had with such entrepreneurs, I have learnt that focusing on customer needs is the principle guide to success particularly in service industries. For example, Chinese restaurants target even customers who are less familiar with Chinese cuisine. The key to satisfying such customers is educating them on the cuisine in a friendly way and offering exceptional hospitality to complement the meals. My networking has linked me to true entrepreneurs who can help me with starting and running a business when I make such a decision.

Inspiration

I am very mush inspired by the biographies of successful entrepreneurs who overcame insurmountable odds to realize their dreams. Such stories make me to believe that I am the only one who can transform my idea into a profitable business. I always relate my studies with the stories of successful entrepreneurs. For example, confidence is listed as one of the most common attributes of entrepreneurs. I can relate this with the story of Jack Ma. He shared his idea about Ali Baba ecommerce site with people around him but nobody thought it can be a business. Nonetheless, Jack pursued his idea and succeeded tremendously[ CITATION Pet14 l 1033 ]. Richard Branson also overcame dyslexia to start the Virgin group of companies[ CITATION Pet14 l 1033 ]. I have learnt that most of the successful entrepreneurs have succeeded through perseverance and hard work. I have also made it a point to put in extra effort and take obstacles as learning points.

Creativity and innovation

I have always thought that creativity and innovation is important for business growth. However, when it comes to practical business management, I believe most small business managers are preoccupied with operations and breaking even such that they do not focus on creativity and innovation at all. I think it is a little bit difficult for entrepreneurs to understand how a culture of creativity and innovation can lead to business success. I have read the stories of successful corporate such as Samsung, Virgin Group and Google and they all innovate and create new ideas all the time. Some ideas do not work, others do. Others like Google’s driverless car seem way ahead of time. I believe my appreciation for the role of creativity and innovation in entrepreneurial ventures is now deeper than ever before.

Risk-taking

I am a little bit apprehensive when it comes to trying out new ideas that I have never experimented with before. In fact, I don’t enjoy being in unpredictable situations; I feel out of control and vulnerable. One might say that I am the exact opposite of an entrepreneurial person. However, I agree with Week two’s lecture arguments that entrepreneurs are not necessarily people with great appetite for risk; they take calculated risks. I believe my moderate risk-taking propensity gives me an opportunity to analyze factors and develop a plan that increases my chances for success. It is not prudent to risk resources without a belief that you will be successful. Success means doing a preliminary evaluation of the environment to discover a need and a method to fulfill it profitably.

Social and ethical responsibility

I believe that entrepreneurs are the modern-day heroes and heroines. Entrepreneurs create jobs, offer solutions to problems facing humanity (Schaper et al, 2013). It is important to note that great entrepreneurs such as Bill gates support social and ethical course through programs such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The United Nations has set out 17 high-level global development goals (Sustainable Development Goals) that address issues such as unemployment, access to water, sanitation and education. This goals set business on a clear path of sustainability. Businesses that seek to benefit society will record growth and profitability as the world adjusts to challenges of population growth and resource constraints[ CITATION Gar16 l 1033 ]. I have a strong belief that sustainability will influence investor decisions in future as governments and bodies such as UN place high emphasis on lowering emissions and responsible utilization of resources. I am highly committed to ensuring to ensuring I integrate social and ethical responsibility in any entrepreneurial venture I will manage in the near future.

Entrepreneurship at the University

I participated in the University of Canberra Solar Car Project. The project’s objective is to develop a solar-powered, semiautonomous car for the Australian market. My task was to source funding which I managed to deliver impressive results despite the difficulty of getting people to invest in such long-term projects. We managed to get several Gold sponsors such as Wilson Transformer and Weller. Silver sponsors included Lucas Mill, Anything solar and BlueScope. Bronze sponsors included Hume Bank, North East Water and Coxtech. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency also offered grants towards the success of the Solar Car project.

Overall conclusions and reflections

I have gained a lot of skills, knowledge and insights in entrepreneurship from the Entrepreneurship 6349 since I started studying the course. I now understand the importance of creativity, innovation and customer-focus in entrepreneurial ventures. I know how innovation and creativity can be embedded into the strategic planning of a small business. I am also very much focused on understanding human resource concepts such as employee motivation and transformational leadership. I do believe that entrepreneurs should be effective leaders who are able to motivate and lead employees towards a greater goal. The unit’s readings have been very helpful in explaining concepts such as behavioral and economic definitions of entrepreneurs and their characters. I was able to analyze my character and relate some aspects of it to great entrepreneurs.

Workshops and networking activities have also been very important learning aids in this unit. I have always taken advantage of the resources and information provided by the workshop activities. I consider information in media such as Adam Grant’s video to be very important insights into the emerging class of entrepreneurs who break “rules” and redefine industries. I have also been able to gain a lot of wisdom and inspiration from industry discussions that formed part of my unit requirements. I believe entrepreneurship cannot be taught in strictly class environment. Participating in volunteerism and engaging industry players is an important part of learning. I believe the entrepreneurship training I have received through this unit has sparked a flame inside me to always pursue idea generation and implementation as the new way of serving dynamic markets. I will continue reading, experimenting and risking to succeed as an entrepreneur in a dynamic 21st century world.

References

Al-Mubaraki, H., Muhammad, A. and Busler, M., 2014. Innovation and entrepreneurship: Powerful tools for a modern knowledge-based economy. Springer.

Australian Governement, 2016. Entrepreneurs’ Programme. Available at:
[Online] http://www.business.gov.au/advice-and-support/EIP/Pages/default.aspx [Accessed 20 April 2016].

Chen, P.J., Barber, N.A., Chan, W., Dr. Legrand, W. and Okumus, F., 2016. Social entrepreneurship in hospitality. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 28(6).

Churchill, N. & Lewis, V., 1983. The Five Stages of Small Business Growth. Available at:
[Online] https://hbr.org/1983/05/the-five-stages-of-small-business-growth# [Accessed 20 April 2016].

Drucker, P., 2014. Innovation and entrepreneurship. Routledge.

Fisk, P., 2014. Gamechangers: Creating Innovative Strategies for Business and Brands; New Approaches to Strategy, Innovation and Marketing:John wiley and sons.

Garrett-Cox, K., 2016. Is this what the future of business looks like?. Available at:
[Online] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/a-once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity-for-businesses/ [Accessed 15 May 2016].

James, N. and Gudmundsson, A., 2011. Entrepreneur optimism and the new venture creation process. Journal of Asia Entrepreneurship and Sustainability, 7(2), p.52.

Johnson, K., 2015. The Entrepreneur Mind. s.l.:Jaico Publishing House.

Key, S., 2011. One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work.:McGraw Hill Professional.

O’Connor, A. and Greene, F.J., 2012. Is there an association between business and entrepreneurship education and differing entrepreneurial groups in Australia? Evidence from GEM Australia. Small Enterprise Research, 19(1), pp.5-15.

Schaper, M., Volery, T., Weber, P. and Gibson, B., 2013. Entrepreneurship and Small Business: 4th Asia Pacific Edition.

Spinelli, S. & Adams, R., 2012. New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century. 9 ed:McGraw-Hill/Irwin.