نویسنده: مهدی یاراحمدی خراسانی
اصول کار آفرينی و ويژگيهای کار آفرينان :
کار آفرينی مبنای تمامی تحولات و پيشرفتهای بشری است .
تعاريف زيادی از کارآفرينی شده است با اين همه هنوز مفهوم و ماهيت اصلی کارآفرينی شناخته شده نمی باشد .
تعريف کارآفرينی :
· کارآفرينی عبارتست از روش اداره ای که فرصتها را بدون در نظر گرفتن منابع موجود و قابل کنترل فعلی تعقيب می کند .
· کارآفرينی عبارتست از پروسه هدايت به خلق سازمان جديد بدون توجه به نوع و پتانسيل سازمان .
· کارآفرينی پروسه ای است فراتر از شغل و حرفه بلکه يک شيوه زندگی است .
انواع کارآفرينی :
کارآفرينی به سه دسته تقسيم می شود :
1. کارآفرينی مستقل :در قالب افراد آزاد و غير وابسته به سازمان .نظير کارآفرينی سطحی
2. کارآفرينی درون سازمانی :در قالب فعاليتی است که کارکنان سازمان در درون سازمان انجام می دهند .
3. کارآفرينی سازمانی :فرآيندی است که سازمان طی می کند تا همه کارکنان قادر باشند در نقش کارآفرين انجام وظيفه کنند .
تعريف کارآفرين :
1. کارآفرين کسی است که فرصتی را کشف و برای پيگيری و تحقق آن سازمانی را ايجاد می کند.
2. کارآفرين کارفرمايي است که ريسک و مديريت کسب کاری را بعهده می گيرد .
3. کارآفرين کسی است که توليد را سازماندهی می کند .
نقش و اهميت کارآفرينان در جامعه
کارآفرينان بعنوان موتور متحرک اقتصادی نقشهای زياد و متفاوتی را در جامعه ايفا می کنند .
کارآفرينان با بهره گيری از نيروهای مولدی که در خود برای حل خلاقانه مسئله نظير ريسک پذيری , تحمل , ابهام و … سراغ دارند قادر می باشند با زيرکی ظرافت و سرعت هر چه تمامتر تهديدها و تنگناهای محيطی را در جامعه به فرصت تبديل نمايند و در شرايط سخت نظير کمبود ارز , تورم , جنگ و …. فرصتهای جديدی را کشف و از آنها به نفع خود و جامعه بهره برداری می کنند .
مهمترين آثار و نقشهای کارآفرينان در جامعه :
1. عامل اشتغال زائی .
2. عامل انتقال فناوری .
3. عامل نوآوری و روان کننده تغيير .
4. عامل تحول و تجديد حيات ملی و محلی .
5. عامل ترغيب و تشويق سرمايه گذار .
6. عامل کاهش بروکراسی اداری .
7. عامل تعادل در اقتصاد پويا .
8. عامل شناخت , ايجاد و گسترش بازارهای جديد .
9. عامل سامان دهی منابع و استفاده اثربخش از آنها .
10. عامل تشويق و تحرک حس رقابت .
11. عامل يکپارچگی و ارتباط بازارها .
12. عامل رفع شکافها و تنگناهای بازار و اجتماع .
13. بعنوان يکی از عوامل توليد نظير زمين , سرمايه , انسان و …. .
مقايسه مديران و کارآفرينان :
اغلب افراد کارآفرينان سازمانی را با مديران موفق يکی می دانند در حاليکه نوآوری مديران سازمانی عامل مهم تفکيک آنها از مديران می باشد .
ذيلاً به ذکر تفاوتهايی از مديران و کارآفرينان که در اثر مقايسه با يکديگر بدست آمده است می پردازيم.
اهم تفاوتهای مديران و کارآفرينان :
_کارآفرينان در آينده زندگی می کنند .
_کارآفرينان اشتياق به کنترل دارند .
_کارآفرينان علاقه به تغيير دارند .
_کارآفرينان در هر مساله ای بدنبال فرصت مناسب می گردند .
_کارآفرينان يک خانه می سازند و بلافاصله برای خانه بعدی و جديد برنامه ريزی می کنند .
_کارآفرينان اشياء ( چيزها ) را خلق می کنند .
_بدون کارآفرين هر چيز سر جای خودش می باشد و بهم نمی خورد .
_مديران در گذشته زندگی می کنند .
_مديران اشتياق به دستور دادن دارند .
_مديران علاقه به ثبات دارند .
_مديران تهديد گرا هستند .
_مديران يک خانه می سازند و می خواهند هميشه در آن خانه زندگی کنند .
_مديران تميزی و شُسته رُفته بودن را خلق می کنند .
_بعد از کارآفرينان , مديران مشغول نظم بخشيدن و تميز کردن شلوغ کاريهای کارآفرينان می شوند .
ويژگيهای کارآفرينان :
1-ويژگيهای روانشناختی کارآفرينان .
2-ويژگيهای جمعيت شناختی کارآفرينان .
الف : مهمترين ويژگيهای روانشناختی کارآفرينان که مورد شناسايي و اتفاق نظر دانشمندان و محققان می باشند عبارتند از :
1. ريسک پذير هستند ( ريسکهای حساب شده ) .
2. نياز به موفقيت دارند .
3. نوآور , خلاق و ايده ساز می باشند .
4. دارای پشتکار زيادی می باشند .
5. صفت بارز آنها آرمان گرايي است .
6. پيش قدم می باشند .
7. اغلب در جستجو فرصتها می باشند تا تهديدها .
8. نتيجه گرا می باشند .
9. اهل کار و عمل می باشند .
10. آينده گرا می باشند .
11. خيلی راحت نتيجه اعمال خود را می پذيرند .
12. به اجرای قواهد و قوانين زياد مقيد نيستند .
13. با تشويق افراد سايرين را به اجرای پروژه ها خود پيوند می زند .
14. هدف گرا می باشند .
15. علاقمند هستند اعمال خود را با ديگران مقايسه کنند .
16. خود محور هستند .
17. ظرفيت رويارويي بالايي با ابهامات دارند .
18. انعطاف پذير می باشند .
19. توانايي بالايي در تشخيص الگوها دارند .
20. دائماً در جستجوی اطلاعات هستند .
21. ارتباطات سازمانی آنها غير رسمی و اغلب مغاير سلسله مراتب فرماندهی می باشند .
22. قاطعيت دارند .
23. در مقابل هيجانات ثبات و استحکام دارند .
24. واقع بين و به احد و پيمان خود صادق هستند .
25. در شناخت سريع و روشن شکلهای مختلف مساله توانا هستند .
26. تمايل به کنترل سهل گير دارند تا کنترل سخت گير .
27. اميد آنها به موفقيت بيشتر از ترس آنها به شکست می باشد .
28. در وضعيتهای پيچيده تر قدرت تصور و تشخيص بالايي در تجزيه اجزاء وضعيتها دارند .
29. اعتدال در ميزان خطر را ترجيح می دهند .
30. قادر به تعويق انداختن خشنوديها و افتخارات خويش می باشند .
ب :ويژگيهای جمعيت شناختی کارآفرينان
1. تجربه کاری :
به تحقيق مشخص گرديده که کارآفرينان در صنعتی که جديداً شروع می کنند دارای تجربه قبل نمی باشند .
تحقيقات نشان داده است که بيش از 97 درصد شرکتهای جديد با فناوری بالا حداقل دارای موسسی بوده اند که قبلاً در همان صنعت کار می کردند .
2. نارضايتی از شغل قبل :
در يک مقايسه بين کارآفرينان موفق و ناموفق توسط دانشمندی بنام بروکواس ثابت شده است که نارضايتی کارآفرينان موفق از مشاغل قبلی خود در هنگام تصميم گيری به آغاز فعاليت جديد بيشتر از نارضايتی کارآفرينان ناموفق بوده است .
3.الگوی نقش :
وجود يک الگوی نقش سبب تشويق تراشهای کارآفرينی در افراد می گردد .
اين الگوها ممکن است در خانواده و يا بين دوستان و يا در محيطهای کاری باشد .
4.شرايط کودکی :
در يک مطالعه وسيع توسط يک دانشمند آمريکايي ( ديويد اسليور ) مشخص شده است که 74 درصد از کارآفرينان افرادی بوده اند که در شرايط کودکی خود شاهد وقايع مهم و حساسی نظير فقر , ناامنی , مرگ و يا جدايي والدين از يکديگر بوده اند .
بعضی از دانشمندان نظير وسپر معتقد هستند که کارآفرينانی که احتمال شکست بيشتری دارند کسانی هستند که تجربه دارند اما تحصيلات ندارند .
تحصيلات دانشگاهی , پيش ضرورتی برای موفقيت نيست اما برای رشد در سلسله مراتب سازمانهای بزرگ بهتر است تحصيلات دانشگاهی و آموزشهای مديريتی گذرانده شود .
برای فعاليتهای کارآفرينانه سن مطلوبی تعيين نگرديده است ولی به تجربه ثابت شده است که مطلوب ترين شرايط سنی در محدوده 20 تا 40 سالگی است .
7.جايگاه اجتماعی :
قرار نگرفتن فرد در جايگاه اجتماعی مورد انتظار سبب می شود تا فرد نسبت به فعاليتهای کارآفرينانه برانگيخته شود .
متغييرهايي نظير قدرت , و سِمَت نمی توانند به تنهايي برای تحريک انگيزه فرد در فعاليتهای کارآفرينانه موثر باشند اما تجربه ثابت کرده است که هر زمان بين جايگاه اجتماعی فرد و انتظار وی اختلاف وجود داشته باشد او را به انجام کارهای محرک و متفاوت وادار می کند .
Economists and business people differ in their definitions of entrepreneurship. Most, however, agree that entrepreneurship is vital for stimulating economic growth and employment opportunities in all societies. This is particularly true in the developing world, where successful small businesses are the primary engines of job creation and poverty reduction. This page introduces the first eight of what eventually will be a series of 21 one-page primers on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. It discusses the essentials for building and running a business from the planning stages to marketing a product.
Author Jeanne Holden is a free-lance writer with expertise in economic issues. She worked as a writer-editor in the U.S. Information Agency for 17 years.
1. What Is Entrepreneurship?
What is meant by entrepreneurship? The concept of entrepreneurship was first established in the 1700s, and the meaning has evolved ever since. Many simply equate it with starting one’s own business. Most economists believe it is more than that.
To some economists, the entrepreneur is one who is willing to bear the risk of a new venture if there is a significant chance for profit. Others emphasize the entrepreneur’s role as an innovator who markets his innovation. Still other economists say that entrepreneurs develop new goods or processes that the market demands and are not currently being supplied.
In the 20th century, economist Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) focused on how the entrepreneur’s drive for innovation and improvement creates upheaval and change. Schumpeter viewed entrepreneurship as a force of “creative destruction.” The entrepreneur carries out “new combinations,” thereby helping render old industries obsolete. Established ways of doing business are destroyed by the creation of new and better ways to do them.
Business expert Peter Drucker (1909-2005) took this idea further, describing the entrepreneur as someone who actually searches for change, responds to it, and exploits change as an opportunity. A quick look at changes in communications – from typewriters to personal computers to the Internet – illustrates these ideas.
Most economists today agree that entrepreneurship is a necessary ingredient for stimulating economic growth and employment opportunities in all societies. In the developing world, successful small businesses are the primary engines of job creation, income growth, and poverty reduction. Therefore, government support for entrepreneurship is a crucial strategy for economic development.
As the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in 2003, “Policies to foster entrepreneurship are essential to job creation and economic growth.” Government officials can provide incentives that encourage entrepreneurs to risk attempting new ventures. Among these are laws to enforce property rights and to encourage a competitive market system.
The culture of a community also may influence how much entrepreneurship there is within it. Different levels of entrepreneurship may stem from cultural differences that make entrepreneurship more or less rewarding personally. A community that accords the highest status to those at the top of hierarchical organizations or those with professional expertise may discourage entrepreneurship. A culture or policy that accords high status to the “self-made” individual is more likely to encourage entrepreneurship.
This overview is the first in a series of one-page essays about the fundamental elements of entrepreneurship. Each paper combines the thinking of mainstream economic theorists with examples of practices that are common to entrepreneurship in many countries. The series attempts to answer: Why and how do people become entrepreneurs? Why is entrepreneurship beneficial to an economy? How can governments encourage entrepreneurship, and, with it, economic growth?
2. What Makes Someone an Entrepreneur?
Who can become an entrepreneur? There is no one definitive profile. Successful entrepreneurs come in various ages, income levels, gender, and race. They differ in education and experience. But research indicates that most successful entrepreneurs share certain personal attributes, including: creativity, dedication, determination, flexibility, leadership, passion, self-confidence, and “smarts.”
Creativity is the spark that drives the development of new products or services, or ways to do business. It is the push for innovation and improvement. It is continuous learning, questioning, and thinking outside of prescribed formulas.
Dedication is what motivates the entrepreneur to work hard, 12 hours a day or more, even seven days a week, especially in the beginning, to get the endeavor off the ground. Planning and ideas must be joined by hard work to succeed. Dedication makes it happen.
Determination is the extremely strong desire to achieve success. It includes persistence and the ability to bounce back after rough times. It persuades the entrepreneur to make the 10th phone call, after nine have yielded nothing. For the true entrepreneur, money is not the motivation. Success is the motivator; money is the reward.
Flexibility is the ability to move quickly in response to changing market needs. It is being true to a dream while also being mindful of market realities. A story is told about an entrepreneur who started a fancy shop selling only French pastries. But customers wanted to buy muffins as well. Rather than risking the loss of these customers, the entrepreneur modified her vision to accommodate these needs.
Leadership is the ability to create rules and to set goals. It is the capacity to follow through to see that rules are followed and goals are accomplished.
Passion is what gets entrepreneurs started and keeps them there. It gives entrepreneurs the ability to convince others to believe in their vision. It can’t substitute for planning, but it will help them to stay focused and to get others to look at their plans.
Self-confidence comes from thorough planning, which reduces uncertainty and the level of risk. It also comes from expertise. Self-confidence gives the entrepreneur the ability to listen without being easily swayed or intimidated.
“Smarts” is an American term that describes common sense joined with knowledge or experience in a related business or endeavor. The former gives a person good instincts, the latter, expertise. Many people have smarts they don’t recognize. A person who successfully keeps a household on a budget has organizational and financial skills. Employment, education, and life experiences all contribute to smarts.
Every entrepreneur has these qualities in different degrees. But what if a person lacks one or more? Many skills can be learned. Or, someone can be hired who has strengths that the entrepreneur lacks. The most important strategy is to be aware of strengths and to build on them.
3. Why Become an Entrepreneur?
What leads a person to strike out on his own and start a business? Perhaps a person has been laid off once or more. Sometimes a person is frustrated with his or her current job and doesn’t see any better career prospects on the horizon. Sometimes a person realizes that his or her job is in jeopardy. A firm may be contemplating cutbacks that could end a job or limit career or salary prospects. Perhaps a person already has been passed over for promotion. Perhaps a person sees no opportunities in existing businesses for someone with his or her interests and skills.
Some people are actually repulsed by the idea of working for someone else. They object to a system where reward is often based on seniority rather than accomplishment, or where they have to conform to a corporate culture.
Other people decide to become entrepreneurs because they are disillusioned by the bureaucracy or politics involved in getting ahead in an established business or profession. Some are tired of trying to promote a product, service, or way of doing business that is outside the mainstream operations of a large company.
In contrast, some people are attracted to entrepreneurship by the advantages of starting a business. These include:
Entrepreneurs are their own bosses. They make the decisions. They choose whom to do business with and what work they will do. They decide what hours to work, as well as what to pay and whether to take vacations.
Entrepreneurship offers a greater possibility of achieving significant financial rewards than working for someone else.
It provides the ability to be involved in the total operation of the business, from concept to design and creation, from sales to business operations and customer response.
It offers the prestige of being the person in charge.
It gives an individual the opportunity to build equity, which can be kept, sold, or passed on to the next generation.
Entrepreneurship creates an opportunity for a person to make a contribution. Most new entrepreneurs help the local economy. A few – through their innovations – contribute to society as a whole. One example is entrepreneur Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976, and ignited the subsequent revolution in desktop computers.
Some people evaluate the possibilities for jobs and careers where they live and make a conscious decision to pursue entrepreneurship.
No one reason is more valid than another; none guarantee success. However, a strong desire to start a business, combined with a good idea, careful planning, and hard work, can lead to a very engaging and profitable endeavor.
4. Decisions and Downfalls
Entrepreneurship is an attractive career choice. But many decisions have to be made before launching and managing a new business, no matter its size. Among the questions that need to be answered are:
Does the individual truly want to be responsible for a business?
What product or service should be the basis of the business?
What is the market, and where should it be located?
Is the potential of the business enough to provide a living wage for its employees and the owner?
How can a person raise the capital to get started?
Should an individual work full or part time to start a new business? Should the person start alone or with partners?
Answers to these questions are not empirically right or wrong. Rather, the answers will be based on each entrepreneur’s judgment. An entrepreneur gathers as much information and advice as possible before making these and other crucial decisions.
The entrepreneur’s challenge is to balance decisiveness with caution – to be a person of action who does not procrastinate before seizing an opportunity – and at the same time, to be ready for an opportunity by having done all the preparatory work possible to reduce the risks of the new endeavor.
Preparatory work includes evaluating the market opportunity, developing the product or service, preparing a good business plan, figuring out how much capital is needed, and making arrangements to obtain that capital.
Through careful analysis of entrepreneurs’ successes and failures, economists have identified key factors for up-and-coming business owners to consider closely. Taking them into account can reduce risk. In contrast, paying them no attention can precipitate the downfall of a new enterprise.
Motivation: What is the incentive for starting a business? Is it money alone? True, many entrepreneurs achieve great wealth. However, money is almost always tight in the startup and early phases of a new business. Many entrepreneurs do not even take a salary until they can do so and still leave the firm with a positive cash flow.
Strategy: What is the strategy for distinguishing the product or service? Is the plan to compete solely on the basis of selling price? Price is important, but most economists agree that it is extremely risky to compete on price alone. Large firms that produce huge quantities have the advantage in lowering costs.
Realistic Vision: Is there a realistic vision of the enterprise’s potential? Insufficient operating funds are the cause of many failed businesses. Entrepreneurs often underestimate start-up costs and overestimate sales revenues in their business plans. Some analysts advise adding 50 percent to final cost estimates and reducing sales projections. Only then can the entrepreneur examine cash flow projections and decide if he or she is ready to launch a new business.
5. Go It Alone or Team Up?
One important choice that new entrepreneurs have to make is whether to start a business alone or with other entrepreneurs. They need to consider many factors, including each entrepreneur’s personal qualities and skills and the nature of the planned business.
In the United States, for instance, studies show that almost half of all new businesses are created by teams of two or more people. Often the people know each other well; in fact, it is common for teams to be spouses.
There are many advantages to starting a firm with other entrepreneurs. Team members share decision-making and management responsibilities. They can also give each other emotional support, which can help reduce individual stress.
Companies formed by teams have somewhat lower risks. If one of the founders is unavailable to handle his or her duties, another can step in.
Team interactions often generate creativity. Members of a team can bounce ideas off each other and “brainstorm” solutions to problems.
Studies show that investors and banks seem to prefer financing new businesses started by more than one entrepreneur. This alone may justify forming a team.
Other important benefits of teaming come from combining monetary resources and expertise. In the best situations, team members have complementary skills. One may be experienced in engineering, for example, and the other may be an expert in promotion.
In general, strong teams have a better chance at success. In Entrepreneurs in High Technology, Professor Edward Roberts of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reported that technology companies formed by entrepreneurial teams have a lower rate of failure than those started by individuals. This is particularly true when the team includes a marketing expert.
Entrepreneurs of different ages can create complementary teams also. Optimism and a “can-do” spirit characterize youth, while age brings experience and realism. In 1994, for example, Marc Andreessen was a talented young computer scientist with an innovative idea. James Clark, the founder and chairman of Silicon Graphics, saw his vision. Together they created Netscape Navigator, the Internet-browsing computer software that transformed personal computing.
But entrepreneurial teams have potential disadvantages as well. First, teams share ownership. In general, entrepreneurs should not offer to share ownership unless the potential partner can make a significant contribution to the venture.
Teams share control in making decisions. This may create a problem if a team member has poor judgment or work habits.
Most teams eventually experience serious conflict. This may involve management plans, operational procedures, or future goals. It may stem from an unequal commitment of time or a personality clash. Sometimes such conflicts can be resolved; in others, a conflict can even lead to selling the company or, worse, to its failure.
It is important for a new entrepreneur to be aware of potential problems while considering the advantages of working with other entrepreneurs. In general, however, the benefits of teaming outweigh the risks.
6. Choosing a Product and a Market
A prospective entrepreneur needs to come up with a good idea. This will serve as the foundation of the new venture.
Sometimes an entrepreneur sees a market need and – Eureka! – has an idea for a product or service to fill it. Other times an entrepreneur gets an idea for a product or service and tries to find a market for it. A Scottish engineer working at General Electric created putty that bounces but had no use for it. In the hands of a creative entrepreneur, it became a toy, “Silly Putty,” with an enthusiastic market: children.
The idea doesn’t have to be revolutionary. Research, timing, and a little luck transform commonplace ideas into successful businesses. In 1971, Chuck Burkett launched a firm to make an ordinary product, novelty key chains. But when he got a contract with a new venture in Florida – Disney World – he started making Mickey Mouse key chains, and achieved tremendous success.
There are many ways to look for ideas. Read a lot, talk to people, and consider questions such as: What limitations exist in current products and services? What would you like that is not available? Are there other uses for new technology?
What are innovative ways to use or to provide existing products? In Australia in 1996, two entrepreneurs founded Aussie Pet Mobile Inc. to bring pet bathing and grooming to busy people’s homes. It is now a top U.S. franchise business.
Is society changing? What groups have unfulfilled needs? What about people’s perceptions? Growing demand for healthy snacks created many business opportunities in the United States, for example.
Business ideas usually fit into one of four categories that were described by H. Igor Ansoff in the Harvard Business Review in 1957:
An existing good or service for an existing market. This is a difficult approach for a start-up operation. It means winning over consumers through merchandising appeal, advertising, etc. Entry costs are high, and profit is uncertain.
A new good or service for a new market. This is the riskiest strategy for a new firm because both the product and the market are unknown. It requires the most research and planning. If successful, however, it has the most potential for new business and can be extremely profitable.
A new good or service for an existing market. (Often this is expanded to include modified goods/services.) For example, entrepreneurial greeting-card makers use edgy humor and types of messages not produced by Hallmark or American Greetings – the major greeting-card makers – to compete in an existing market.
An existing good or service for a new market. The new market could be a different country, region, or market niche. Entrepreneurs who provide goods/services at customers’ homes or offices, or who sell them on the Internet, are also targeting a new market – people who don’t like shopping or are too busy to do so.
The last two categories have moderate risk, but product and market research can reduce it. They also offer opportunities for utilizing effective start-up strategies – innovation, differentiation, and market specification.
7. Entry Strategies for New Ventures
IIt is easy to be captivated by the promise of entrepreneurship and the lure of becoming one’s own boss. It can be difficult, however, for a prospective entrepreneur to determine what product or service to provide. Many factors need to be considered, including: an idea’s market potential, the competition, financial resources, and one’s skills and interests. Then it is important to ask: Why would a consumer choose to buy goods or services from this new firm?
One important factor is the uniqueness of the idea. By making a venture stand out from its competitors, uniqueness can help facilitate the entry of a new product or service into the market.
It is best to avoid an entry strategy based on low cost alone. New ventures tend to be small. Large firms usually have the advantage of lowering costs by producing large quantities.
Successful entrepreneurs often distinguish their ventures through differentiation, niche specification, and innovation.
Differentiation is an attempt to separate the new company’s product or service from that of its competitors. When differentiation is successful, the new product or service is relatively less sensitive to price fluctuations because customers value the quality that makes the product unique.
A product can be functionally similar to its competitors’ product but have features that improve its operation, for example. It may be smaller, lighter, easier to use or install, etc. In 1982, Compaq Computer began competing with Apple and IBM. Its first product was a single-unit personal computer with a handle. The concept of a portable computer was new and extremely successful.
Niche specification is an attempt to provide a product or service that fulfills the needs of a specific subset of consumers. By focusing on a fairly narrow market sector, a new venture may satisfy customer needs better than larger competitors can.
Changes in population characteristics may create opportunities to serve niche markets. One growing market segment in developed countries comprises people over 65 years old. Other niches include groups defined by interests or lifestyle, such as fitness enthusiasts, adventure-travel buffs, and working parents. In fact, some entrepreneurs specialize in making “homemade” dinners for working parents to heat and serve.
Innovation is perhaps the defining characteristic of entrepreneurship. Visionary business expert Peter F. Drucker explained innovation as “change that creates a new dimension of performance.” There are two main types of product innovation. Pioneering or radical innovation embodies a technological breakthrough or new-to-the-world product. Incremental innovations are modifications of existing products.
But innovation occurs in all aspects of businesses, from manufacturing processes to pricing policy. Tom Monaghan’s decision in the late 1960s to create Domino’s Pizza based on home delivery and Jeff Bezos’s decision in 1995 to launch Amazon.com as a totally online bookstore are examples of innovative distribution strategies that revolutionized the marketplace.
Entrepreneurs in less-developed countries often innovate by imitating and adapting products created in developed countries. Drucker called this process “creative imitation.” Creative imitation takes place whenever the imitators understand how an innovation can be applied, used, or sold in their particular market better than the original creators do.
Innovation, differentiation, and/or market specification are effective strategies to help a new venture to attract customers and start making sales.
8. Marketing Is Selling
Marketing is often defined as all the activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer to the consumer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling. For a new business, however, marketing means selling. Without paying customers to buy the goods or services, all the entrepreneur’s plans and strategies will undoubtedly fail.
How does a new business get orders? Before launching the business, the entrepreneur should research the target market and analyze competitive products. “Most business sectors have specific marketing strategies that work best for them and have already been put into practice,” entrepreneur Phil Holland said. In 1970, Holland founded Yum Yum Donut Shops, Inc., which grew into the largest chain of privately owned doughnut shops in the United States. He suggests analyzing competitors’ successful selling methods, pricing, and advertising.
For example, an entrepreneur can also develop a file of potential customers by collecting names or mailing lists from local churches, schools, and community groups or other organizations. This file can be used later for direct mailings – even for invitations to the opening of the new business.
After the new firm is launched, its owners need to get information about their product or service to as many potential customers as possible – efficiently, effectively, and within the constraints of a budget.
The most effective salesperson in a new venture is often the head of the business. People will almost always take a call from the “president” of a firm. This is the person with the vision, the one who knows the advantages of the new venture, and who can make quick decisions. Many famous entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates at Microsoft, have been gifted at selling their products.
Company-employed sales people can be effective for a new venture, particularly one aimed at a fairly narrow market. Direct sales conducted by mail order or on the Internet are less expensive options that can be equally successful.
External channels also can be used. Intermediaries, such as agents or distributors, can be hired to market a product or service. Such individuals must be treated fairly and paid promptly. Some analysts advise treating external representatives like insiders and offering them generous bonuses so that the product or service stands out among the many they represent.
Advertising and promotion are essential marketing tools. Newspaper, magazine, television, and radio advertisements are effective for reaching large numbers of consumers. A less expensive option is printing fliers, which can be mailed to potential customers, handed out door to door, or displayed in businesses that permit it. New companies can also compose new product releases, which trade magazines usually publish without charge.
It is important to be listed in local telephone directories that group similar businesses under a single heading, such as the Yellow Pages in the United States. It is also useful to be listed on Internet search engines such as Google or Yahoo, which are used by consumers for locating local businesses. These often link to a company’s Web site, thereby communicating more information.
Publicity is also an extremely valuable way to promote a new product or service. New firms should send press releases to media outlets. A local newspaper might publish a feature about the startup. A TV or radio station might interview its owners. This can be very effective in generating sales, and it’s free!
9. The Entrepreneur and the Internet
The Internet — a vast computer network linking smaller computer networks — has revolutionized commerce by bringing together people from all over the globe. Many of its features can be used to shape a new business.
Communications: An entrepreneur must communicate with many people-suppliers, distributors, and customers, for example. A quick and relatively inexpensive way to send letters, reports, photographs, etc. to other Internet users is with electronic mail or “e-mail.” E-mail can be used even for marketing. Various forms of computer software are available to protect documents from unauthorized access or alteration so that they can be securely shared and easily authenticated.
Research: Starting a business takes lots of research. An entrepreneur can find information on almost any subject very rapidly by using the Internet’s World Wide Web.(The Web is a collection of text and multimedia documents linked to create a huge electronic library.) Many government agencies, universities, organizations, and businesses provide information on the Internet, usually at no cost.
The easiest way to find information on the Web is by using a search engine-a data retrieval system. The user types key words for a subject on the computer, clicks the enter button, and receives a list of materials — often within seconds. The items are linked electronically to the actual documents so that Internet users can read them on their computer screens. Among the most popular search engines are Yahoo! (http://yahoo.com) and Google (http://google.com).
Promotion: Web sites, pages of print and visual information that are linked together electronically, offer an opportunity for entrepreneurs to introduce a new business and its products and/or services to a huge audience. In general, Web sites can be created and updated more quickly and inexpensively than printed promotional materials. Moreover, they run continuously!
To create a Web site for her business, the entrepreneur can hire a firm to create one or purchase computer software to create it on her own. Many universities offer courses that teach how to build a Web site, also.
A Web site needs a name and an address. On the Internet, the two are usually the same. Web site names and addresses must be registered. Http://rs.internic.net is a Web site that lists registrars by country and language used. The address of the online business is expressed as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL). It usually ends in dot com (.com), which indicates a “commercial” site. Dot net (.net), an alternate ending; is often used when a specific Web site name ending in .com has already been registered. Good business Web site names are easy to remember and evoke the firm and its products or services.
The entrepreneur also needs a piece of property in cyberspace, where her Web site will reside. Many commercial “hosting services,” called Internet service providers (ISPs), rent space on their large computers (called servers) for a small monthly or annual fee.
Web site promotion is critical. A Web site address can be put on business cards, stationery, brochures — anything having to do with the new firm. Or, an entrepreneur can pay to place a colorful advertisement on non-competitive Web sites, such as ones for complementary products. Advertising banners usually link back to the advertised firm’s Web site.
Entrepreneurs also can provide information about their Web sites to well-known Internet search engines. For a fee, most search engines will promote a Web site when a selected set of search terms is used. Online shoppers, for instance, often use search engines to find businesses that provide specific products and services.
Safe Use: Just as shopkeepers lock their storefronts, entrepreneurs who use the Internet need to take steps to keep their computer systems safe from the potential hazards of security breaches and viruses. One of the most effective steps is installing security software. Another is setting up an Internet firewall to screen and block undesired traffic between a computer network and the Internet. A technology consultant on contract can install these and other computer defenses. There is a lot of information about computer safety available, and often for free. For example, the National Cyber Security Alliance (http://www.staysafeonline.info/), an organization devoted to raising Internet security awareness, offers educational materials and other resources.
As Julian E. Lange, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College, has said, “For creative entrepreneurs with limited resources, the Internet offers significant opportunities to build new businesses and enhance existing enterprises.” New businesses will develop solutions to enhance the Internet user’s experience. Existing businesses will take advantage of myriad Internet applications — from customer service to order processing to investor relations. Lange suggests that, for many entrepreneurs, the challenges posed by the Internet are “opportunities to delight customers and create exciting entrepreneurial ventures.”
10. Selling Online
Many entrepreneurs sell goods or services on the Internet. Why? The Internet provides access to a large and growing market. Approximately 627 million people were shopping online worldwide in 2005, according to ACNielsen, a global information-marketing company.
By selling on the Internet, a neighborhood shop or home-based firm can reach a national or even international group of potential customers. When entrepreneurs sell online, they are on a more level playing field with larger competitors.
There are costs to Internet selling, certainly. But the price of creating and managing a Web site has dropped, and the number of Web site design and management companies has grown. In fact, some entrepreneurs find it less costly to run an Internet store than to hire a large sales force and maintain one or more bricks and mortar — or actual — stores.
Some businesses — books, airline travel, and the stock market, for example – have been transformed by their success in online sales. Others, such as amusement parks, bowling alleys, or utility companies, may not at first seem well suited to the Internet. But a Web site also can be used for selling tickets, offering discounts, or letting customers make payments over the Internet.
To start an online business, an entrepreneur must:
Register a domain name — an Internet name and address.
Purchase a server or contract with an Internet service provider to host the Web site. Buy Internet software to create a Web site or hire an expert to do so. Design an attractive and easy-to-navigate online store.
Create an online catalog. Provide clearly written information, without technical language or jargon. Use lots of photos to encourage potential customers to buy. Include clear instructions to order by phone or online.
Establish a payment method. Some companies bill a customer before or after shipping merchandise. This may cause payment delays, however. Another option is to have customers use credit or debit cards online. A business can get a bank-authorized transaction-processing account (merchant account) for handling the revenue (and fees) from credit card transactions from a bank or other institution that processes credit cards online. Alternately, it is possible to hire an online payment service, such as WorldPay (www.worldpay.com), to handle these transactions.
Make the Web site secure, especially to protect customers’ financial information. Hiring a technology expert is time and money well spent as compared to the potential risk of security violations.
Establish a policy for shipping. Options include letting the business absorb the cost (no charge), including costs in the listed prices, or explicitly listing shipping charges. Customers should never be surprised at the end of a transaction with shipping costs. Customers may cancel the sale.
Offer customers an e-mail address or phone number for complaints, suggestions, or compliments, and respond to them. This can boost customer loyalty.
After creating an online store, there is still much to do. An entrepreneur needs to attract potential customers. There are many ways to advertise a Web site. One is to print a Web address on business receipts, letterhead, newsletters, and other materials. Another is to contact search engines like Google and Yahoo, and to use key subject words in the Web site design so that search-engine users are directed to the entrepreneur’s Web site. For example, a restaurant specializing in food from Afghanistan might include the key words and phrases “Afghan cuisine,” “traditional recipes,” “contemporary cooking,” “bulani,” “hummus,” “korma,” “kabobs,” “kofta,” “lamb, “ashwak,” “steamed dumplings,” and others like these.
Web site promotion is crucial. Getting noticed is the first step to making online sales.