An Entrepreneurial Venture Begins
Entrepreneurship is "the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled." It is the ability to envision new and wonderful worlds of what can be without being earthbound by what is. The vision is essential, but nothing happens until you move beyond the dream and take action. At that point, resources become critical. Although the vision should be unfettered by the resources you currently have, seldom do you have all that are needed. As an entrepreneur the most important mobilizing tasks you must undertake are the identification and engagement of the resources that will make it possible for you to turn your dream into reality.
Most entrepreneurs start out with a great idea about how to solve a problem or how they will fill a market need. They might have insight into how a business process could be improved (e-tailing vs. retailing) or they might have patented technology that will enable them to create new and useful products. Carol Latham invented and patented a filmy material that helped keep microprocessors from overheating. When she decided to package it in sheets and sell it, she created Thermagon to manufacture and market the material. Linda Kellogg launched Start-Up Resources, Inc. to provide support services (accounting, tax management, finding office space, and benefits administration) to entrepreneurs. Her bundle of business services for start-up companies made it easier for other entrepreneurs to focus attention and energy on core technology, marketing, and distribution tasks. In both cases, coming up with the idea was the easiest part for the women. Then they took the next steps to make their dreams into realities.
Of course, not every new idea becomes a business, but many do. Every year, more than 550,000 people launch new businesses in the United States. Some entrepreneurs identify growth as a strategic goal from the outset, but most target a modest volume of business and then stabilize when they reach manageable capacity. The outcomes depend on the entrepreneur's personal commitment and drive, business strategy, day-to-day execution, and, of course, the business environment.
Most are looking for freedom, self-expression, and a good income. Figure 1.1 depicts the distribution of entrepreneurial businesses in terms of growth. The vast majority of U.S. ventures are personal income businesses, with only a few enterprises growing to moderate size and even fewer having truly high potential.
Pyramid of entrepreneurial businesses.
From the entrepreneur's point of view, launching and sustaining a new venture means developing and introducing differentiated products, utilizing networks effectively, and creating unique capabilities. All these activities are vital to a venture's early success, but none can be done effectively if the key resources are missing. Even with these resources, many start-ups will not survive. Approximately 35,000 businesses actually declare bankruptcy each year, and thousands more simply cease operations for a variety of reasons.
But put all thoughts of failure away. No entrepreneur would ever take the first step if she believed that failure was a possibility. This book is for entrepreneurs with very high hopes, great confidence in themselves and their businesses, and a commitment to growth. It is for those of you who truly believe that you can create the next Fortune 1000 or Inc. 500 business, introduce new goods and services, change the world, and create great value for yourselves and your partners in the process.