December 12, 2010

Entrepreneurship and Excellence

Entrepreneurship and Excellence - these two, at times, may sound disconnected concepts. In reality, though, these two are not only deeply interconnected but also strongly complement each other.

Becoming an entrepreneur means that one has imbibed excellence as an inherent and integral part of the original business idea, overarching strategy and execution approach behind the entrepreneurial venture. Entrepreneurial success requires the presence of:

1. Novel Business Idea

that can be commercialized to generate revenue (after a certain duration if not immediately but surely on an ongoing basis - to the extent one can visualize). The strength ofthe business idea depends on innovation or differentiation in the products and services that constitute the business idea. The key point that emerges is - "what business need do the target customers have? and what products and services will the target customers be willing to pay for to meet those business needs?"

2. Down-to-earth Execution Strategy

the execution strategy should be simple and down-to-earth, and should in no case be bogged down in the management jargon and theories often used to describe business management (as one would find happening inthe business schools). Business execution in a layman's language simply means - spend money (expenses) to earn more money (revenues), the difference beingthe business 's real value (profits or losses as the case may be). It's commonsensical to assume that no business can survive for long if it continues to make losses!

3. Committed Core Team

a set of people who come together with a common purpose, share personal trust and confidence and who complement each others' competencies (so that the team as a whole is rich is all required competencies) is essential to be successful in any entrepreneurial venture. Commitment and dedication to thebusiness idea and to each other is a must in the core team.

4. Entrepreneurial Traits

the core teams must display extreme behaviors... passion and child-like curiosity for the technological, functional and technical aspects of thebusiness idea and hard-headed, hard-nosed negotiation and communication skills for the financial, commercial, legal and general managerial aspects of thebusiness idea.

5. Vision about the Future Direction of the Business Idea

this may sound counter-intuitive but is extremely important. It may be next to impossible to articulate the exact direction and pace of howthe business idea will progress. It is, however, very important to keep the entrepreneurial mission alive at all times (especially when things may seem to be adverse and unfavorable).

6. Leadership and Communication Style of the Leader

there is always one individual who can be labeled as the main brain behind any entrepreneurial venture. He may assemble other like-minded people but eventually he create and carries the aura of the main founder, visionary and leader - take the example of Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Narayanamurthy (Infosys). The leadership and communication style of this person shapes and guides the soft underbelly of the organization. And if the organization becomes successful and eventually grows on to become larger and bigger later on, some of those practices and the culture live on forever.

7. Excellence in Strategy and Execution

this increases the chance of being successful, by a factor of 10X. Beyond the commercial merit of the business idea, the strategy and execution aspects decide the eventual fate. How much chance does an otherwise healthy patient have at the hands of an incompetent surgeon?

Entrepreneurship and Excellence, as is obvious by now, are complementary by nature. Presence of excellence is a must for entrepreneurial success.

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