What Makes Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurial?

(c) 2001, Saras D. Sarasvathy.

Professionals who work closely with them and researchers who study them have often speculated as to what makes entrepreneurs “entrepreneurial”? Of course, entrepreneurs also love to hold forth on this topic. But while there are as many war stories and pet theories as there are entrepreneurs, and researchers, gathering together a coherent theory of entrepreneurial expertise has thus far eluded academics and practitioners alike.

What are the characteristics, habits, and behaviors of the species entrepreneur? Is there a learnable and teachable “core” to entrepreneurship? In other words, what can today’s entrepreneurs such as Rob Glaser and Jeff Bezos learn from old stalwarts, such as Josiah Wedgwood and Leonard Shoen? Or even within the same period in history, what are the common elements that entrepreneurs across a wide variety of industries share with each other? In sum, is there such a thing as “entrepreneurial thinking” that can be applied across space, time and technology?

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This post has been the most unusual one to write. It has been an effort of well over a year now to gather what I have learned and put it into proper words. Some introspection, a series of conversations with family, other entrepreneurs, friends and mentors helped me find them, and yet it must remain unfinished.

In April this year, I took up a full-time with ShopSocially and have been working there ever since. Before that people, including some who I did not even know – used several words to describe where I was at, including ‘struggling’, ‘stuck’ and so on. It was never a secret that times were difficult. Speaking carefully, I only recently discovered that my work on my venture was missing heart.

The problem did not lie in what I was building, or any of the million other things that I might have felt. It had simply become of paramount importance for me to succeed, and by staring so hard at only this one thing – the emotional content necessary to make things work vanished. With no freedom from failure, every thought became rigid, the negative amplified, and small details sadly missed.

It has been a hard-earned lesson, but a valuable one.

Fortunately, life decided to take me over and cut off my past. My time with those around me at work and home has given me an opportunity to train in their inherent cycle and recover original perspective to build on. Yes, I am not in a venture where I am in a position of risk, and I get that we all want to be that proverbial Tiger hunting it’s prey. I also think I understand now that in order for the Tiger to be a Tiger, he must put in the same amount of intensity in hunting a mouse as he must when hunting another animal that is much bigger or faster than itself.

If you read up stories of founders who made it (or did not), that will tell you that they did not know before hand all that they were building – but with uncommon sincerity did they mix their lives, work and ambitions to lay down layer upon layer. Take this blog site for example, I have to work on not only it’s contents, but how it looks and feels as well to make it agreeable to you. In order to discover that I must first write and so on further in. Same principle.

So what lies ahead? Truth is, all I know right now is the compass-bearing and am taking on challenges one at a time. I have plenty of moves left to get me to where it is that I am going. I am also constantly tinkering with my self to improve. For those of you who believed in me, encouraged me, I might be slow to come around but I stay in your debt as I go forward.

Related links:
Secret Trait of Every Successful Entrepreneur – Inc.com.
Secrets of the Accidental Entrepreneur – Techcrunch.
“How not to die” Paul Graham.
The struggle is not failure, but …

Nurturing the Pune Startup Eco-System through Open Communities

I’ve been helping the Pune OpenCoffee Club bootstrap itself here in Pune. The community is designed to help Tech. Startup Enthusiasts, Entrepreneurs, Developers, Advisors, Investors and everyone else.

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News round up: Young Entrepreneurs

Another one of those blogs where the poster simply posts what he read today. Sure, lets not forget what this blog really is – a web journal :-).

I think it’s a privilege to be 20 something and able to risk it all on a venture that is close to your heart. I realise that not everyone makes it, but that doesn’t mean you should have to stop trying. Business week has a special report on the young entrepreneurs in North America.

Entrepreneurs: Cream of the Young Crop [Business week]
I especially enjoyed this slide show which walks you through each entrepreneur, his or her business idea, and the lessons they learnt from their experiences.

Tech’s Young Turks are back [Business week]

Teaching the startup mentality [Business week]

The Startup bug strikes early [Business week]

Don’t let ego kill the startup [Business week]

From hacker to protector [Business week]

Featured startups –
BrainReactions
Voltage Security
Natpal

Meanwhile, Paul Graham has been encouraging startups in his own way. Have a look through his essay “What I did this Summer” [paulgraham.com]. His Summer founders program has been spawning several ideas and motivating youngsters to chase those ideas.

Before you can start a business, you do need to start with an idea. You also need to know where that idea is going to be in the short-term, and at least a vague idea of the long-term. You need a business plan [entrepreneur.com].