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Posted by admin-innovationcenter 7:29 am

We will start the year with a variety of entrepreneurial topics from my recent readings. I read a lot! Every month, I read a number of publications devoted to entrepreneurship and small business from cover to cover including Entrepreneur, Inc., The Harvard Business Review and Fast Company. You can add to this list an even greater cover to cover reading list of investment and market periodicals.

Keeping up with things is my job as an entrepreneur. When you think about it, entrepreneurs are all really in the information business as we try to uncover market, business and consumer changes that can affect and improve our enterprises, present us with business opportunities, and increase our wealth. Information can provide our competitive edge. So here is the diverse collection of interesting ideas, notions and information that I have come across lately.

MYTH OF THE BUSINESS PLAN

Entrepreneur Magazine (January 2011) features an article regarding something that we have all been told before: go write a business plan. But, not so fast. “Continuing research at Babson College, regarded as having one of the top entrepreneurship programs in the country, finds no statistical correlation between a startup firm’s ultimate revenue or net income and the supposedly requisite written business plan”.

Now I am not going to come out against business planning or against writing a business plan to explain what you are doing to lenders or investors, as requested. “But writing a business plan invites the paralysis of analysis. It detracts the entrepreneur from slaying dragons and thinking big thoughts. The result usually is a long-winded missive that’s out of date almost the moment the ink dries”.

There is no substitute to planning how you’re going to move from business thought to business action. Neither is writing a good blah, blah, blah business plan a substitute for time spent on the street, learning all you can from potential customers. These potential customers can compose you a better plan of business. And if you decide that you don’t need to write a formal business plan, you’ll be in excellent company. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Michael Dell didn’t write one either.

WHAT MAKES SILICON VALLEY SO SPECIAL FOR ENTREPRENEURS?

Cynthia Kocialski, on wisepreneur.com, asks what makes Silicon Valley so entrepreneurial, so different and so favorable to start-up businesses. The answer is: entrepreneurialism has become ingrained in the local culture. The signs and depth of this culture are profoundly evident in every part of the community.

the local elementary schools don’t have science fairs, they have innovation fairs
throughout the K-12 school system, children are expected to invent something that will make their lives easier or better
young adults pursue college study in terms of forming future enterprises, not in terms of someday “landing a job”
the community accepts that success goes hand-in-hand with failure. Silicon Valley has had more failures than anything else but, these failures are viewed learning experiences
there is an eco-system of service providers for seed and angel capital funding, mentoring, academic and know-how training
there are numerous socialization opportunities for entrepreneurs including breakfast clubs, roundtables, etc.

The culture of Silicon Valley embraces the notion, as stated by W. E. Deming, that “innovation comes from freedom. It comes from those who are obligated to no one. It comes from people who are responsible only to themselves”. This readily applies to the like-mindedness of cultures, such as the one that has evolved in Silicon Valley.

RELUCTANT ENTREPRENEURS

Paul Goodwin, in the Cabot Wealth Advisory (November 18, 2010), presents the notion of the reluctant entrepreneur from looking at friends that became entrepreneurs because they lost their jobs in the current economic downturn. What really caught his eye was the phenomenon of good results coming out of otherwise bad situations. Harsh times are a great motivator but the results can be spectacular.

“There will be bakers, handymen, tech-help gurus, musicians, artisans and craftspeople who were forced to start their own businesses. But they will also discover something about the joy of being your own boss and producing goods and services on your own terms. And they may never want to go back”.

5 HARSH REALITIES OF BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR

I saved the best for last. Here are the harsh entrepreneurial realities according to Jason Baptiste of VentureBeat (December 15, 2010):

Your first iteration of an idea will be wrong (no idea survives its first interaction with customers) Thus, the need to innovate.
Your friends and family won’t understand what you do. (so that means you’re unemployed?)
You will make less than normal wages for a while. (most ventures create their first profits in year three, if ever)
Everything takes twice as long…if it ever happens. (I will add “costs twice as much” to this saying)
Titles mean nothing. You will be a janitor. (self-explanatory)

ON THAT NOTE

WELCOME TO 2011

THE YEAR OF OPPORTUNITY

Upcoming event:

Business 101 Series

Business 101 Series Gulf Coast (GC) and USM Schedule GC Email: gcsbdc@olemiss.edu USM Email: rita.a.mitchell@eagles.usm.edu To Register: go to www.mssbdc.org…

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