FRESH & ENTREPRENEURIAL

Abstract:

More and more freshly minted MBA’s are debuting as entrepreneurs ignoring calls of high profile entries into MNCs and seven figure salaries. What fires this trend? What marks this transition in mind-set compared to b-school graduates from two decades ago? With fundamentals of entrepreneurship in place thanks to the course curriculum they have been pursuing,the new crop are setting out to being on their own straight out of school. But is one experienced or otherwise, ever ready for what entrepreneurship brings? Isn’t it also the same uncertainty that delivers the entrepreneur a high and is the thrill of entrepreneurship itself?

Main Article:

Fresh MBA entrepreneurs are trending. The concept of fresh b-school graduates getting on the entrepreneurial bandwagon is driven by 7 things – a growing economy, growth of technology, b-schools offering specialised programmes in entrepreneurship, curious would-be-patrons, a good market, a great idea and, a personal go.

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A worldwide survey of B-school alumni by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which conducts the GMAT exam,involving over 6,000 graduate management programmes worldwide threw up new data that supports this. The survey covered about 21,000 alumni (batches 1959 to 2013) representing 132 institutions from 29 countries. The fi ndings point to a steadily growing preference for self-employment among fresh graduates with 45% of alumni from 2010-2013 choosing entrepreneurship compared to just 7% of those who graduated before 1990.

Unlike their predecessors who were very guarded, valued financial stability over following their dreams and,waited to reach senior management positions before considering getting into business, young graduates are taking the plunge far more easily. The earlier talent pool are notably anywhere from 5 to 20 years behind the current stock in considering and soaking up the chance at being their own bosses. The shift in trend is tremendous and noteworthy.What is a constant however across the board is that, entrepreneurs had picked consulting and product/service as areas of consideration for business ventures.

So what seem to work in a freshman’s favour?

A lesser regulated economy, more open markets, availability of seed funding and angel investors, ease of expansion due to shrinking geographical barriers, potential for growth both at home and/or diverse markets, availability and ability of technology to glue together and speed up other business factors have become a magnet drawing the young and the savvy to start up on their own.

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Also shortening the timeline to getting into business is the increased academic focus on entrepreneurship in business school programs. Every business school, especially the ones at the hiend like INSEAD, Stanford and Harvard have long concentrated on entrepreneurship as an integral part of their programmes. These business schools also reported an inclination among their graduates to the idea of social entrepreneurship.Stanford reported 97 of its students having graduated with an additional certificate in public management and social innovation, a major shift from 37 in 1990. While colleges seem to wholeheartedly support their alumni’s self employment moves, what they are slightly worried about is that,same may diminish their overall ratings as they cannot show off high salary figures with respect to them and the salary package of the student is one of the deciding factors in b-school ratings.

So what qualifies one to be an entrepreneur? What makes that person different from the rest in her class? And how does her choice make a difference to her life and those that are engaged with her directly or indirectly?

Entrepreneurship is difficult. For all their knowledge and skill, entrepreneurs live in perpetual fear of what the next morning will bring. But that very same fear and uncertainty are also what drive the entrepreneur and inspire him on a daily basis. Without that basic challenge, an entrepreneur can become bored and it will start showing on the business. Entrepreneurs are wired a little differently. It is more than ‘working for oneself’ or ‘living one’s dream’, it is their disruptive mind, the ability to create ideas, turn them into cash and cause creative and progressive disruption in the market and mind-set of the audience.

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There is one thing entrepreneurs agree on regardless of when they joined the brotherhood – they never regret taking the plunge even if their ventures had gone cold after a few years. Turns out, a vast majority (91%) are satisfi ed with their experience of being an entrepreneur.Speaking of current percentages, b-school alumni currently self-employed in the Asia/Pacific region account for 7%. Latin America makes for the world’s highest number of entrepreneurs out of b-school at 8%.

Let’s take a deeper look at the special organism called an entrepreneur. There are four personality traits every entrepreneur owns. Think of it as multiple personalities that reside within an individual. The four dimensions are:

The Dreamer: The least understood of the four dimensions, the dreamers is the visionary. The Dreamer cooks up fabulous ideas and dreams that they wish to convert into reality. His dreams have a purpose. The Dreamer is a weaver, weaving ideas and imagination, visualising the world that will work on their dreams.

The Thinker: The Thinker is the Dreamer’s most important companion. While the Dreamer is about “what”, the Thinker is about the methodical “how.” The thinker completes the Dreamer’s idea/vision. He is the one with all the questions that can turn the dream into a business plan.

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The Storyteller: The storyteller is the personality that surfaces when the entrepreneur wants to convey/ sell his vision to others. This personality is capable of invoking interest and excitement in the listener by making a very interesting and engaging pitch of his idea.

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The storyteller is the financial lifeline-maker, the personality in which the Dreamer and the Thinker find voice and find a way of profiteering from the vision.

The Leader: The last of the four, the leader is the personality that assumes responsibility to actualize the dream. He brings together the Dreamer, the Thinker and the Storyteller. Execution of the idea is his forte. He is analytical, scheming and the most practical of the four personalities. The leader sees every angle and takes into account even the smallest of elements of the dream and converts it into the big picture. The leader is a man of action and is ever ready to roll up his sleeves and get the work done.

The four personalities need to work in tandem at all times to makes things happen in a business. Every personality needs to inspire the rest. It doesn’t work if even one of them is on a holiday. So here’s what every entrepreneur needs to check – are all the personalities awake and working? Are they all delivering their one hundred percent? Do they stir the others into action?

These questions need answering because, the answers to these make a successful entrepreneur. Only when the four personalities are at their best at all times can an entrepreneur rise to the occasion. Businesses meet troughs and crests constantly. Only a synchronised personality fed by all the four above can put the entrepreneur together every time.The qualities these dimensions feed into the ‘actual’ person include a slew of both creative and analytical which rally around to define a great and successful entrepreneur.

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Thus propelled by his internal ‘personalities’, the live-wire entrepreneur is ready to hit the floor running. Entrepreneurs are marked by high intuition quotient which help them to help themselves at most crossroads like identifying market need, adding more value to the need through creativity and innovating to stay on top. They also draw their strengths from within and inspire themselves continuously, inspiring others to excel as well. A good businessman is a composite being who is aware of his weaknesses and compensates by finding someone who can complement him. While most businessmen trust their instinct and follow their intuitions and love, worship and believe in their idea, they never underestimate the value of good market research. They also know instinctively when the game is going to get over and can plan their exit accordingly. If they are very good, they can plot the closing chapters of the game by developing products that will snuff out competition.

Another external essential for any entrepreneur is to find a mentor or team of mentors whom they can turn to in times of need. The mentor may be someone who is placed on the company’s payroll or, someone who has a personal interest in the entrepreneur’s well-being and believes in his ideas. Entrepreneurs also need to plan ahead as to how they plan to settle into business. Entrepreneurs may either take the dive alone or find a partner who thinks like them and is excited by the same idea or shares a common goal. While both options are equally viable, extra care needs to be taken when choosing a business partner, the core rules of which are:

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The lesser the number of partners, the better – three is ideal, two is better. The partners need to complement each other’s skills and restore faith in each other and the business.

Partners need to be honest with each other.

The investor may be a partner, or rather not because
one doesn’t want ‘whose money it is’ dragged into every conversation.

"A good business plan, establishment of process and protocols, appropriate market and product/service selection, a mentor and an interested investor are the key to business success."

Have very clear rules with the investors and partners.
 
How the world stands divided on the concept of fresh graduates foraying into business

Here’s what they have to say:

THE LEFT EYE

“The idea and the spirit that an entrepreneur brings to the table are the priority. Everything else can be learnt on the way. A good business plan, establishment of process and protocols, appropriate market and product/service selection, a mentor and an interested investor are the key to business success. Fortunately even for a new b-school graduate, these are the basics (making a business plan, process and protocol planning, market selection, product research and selection) that are part of their programme.

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With the explosion of technology, any information is only a click away. This coupled with the fact that markets are more open is encouraging for any newbie who wishes not only to take off but also expects to do well in the current scenario. In any case, no one can gain experience in running a business except with time. The only challenge is to find an idea that he can sell and grow on. Entrepreneurial debuts by freshmen are an excellent way to tap the potential in this country than losing these brilliant minds to corporate head hunters on other continents.”

THE RIGHT EYE

“Going into business takes maturity and a great deal of planning both of which come with the experience of working on similar lines in other organisations. A fresh b-school graduate can never have the foresight, connections, business know-how and planning skills that a trained and experienced mind who has put even a few years into another organisation will have. There is no substitute for experience. Being employed for some time with other organisations also mean ‘free learning grounds’ in addition to financial backup if the business does not go as planned. If one is smart enough, he can seek engagements in different departments of the organisation through his career journey and exit once he has a gained an overall understanding of the different aspects of being in a business. Most also find their business partners and mentors through the course of their employment.”

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Small things, big impact
A good entrepreneur

  • never leaves things undone.
  • acquiresmarket knowledge and keeps himself updated.
  • knows that if he is not in, he’s out.
  • will avoid fi shing in the same pond as everyone else. He knows there are greater seas to be explored.
  • also knows how to secure or reinvest the money he makes.
  • gets a mentor or team of mentors whom he can turn to for advice or to confess.
  • gets people who can do the job better and faster.
  • knows nothing can sell a bad product.
  • Acknowledges his mistakes and learns from them.
  • is independent, confi dent and self-reliant.
  • is driven and dedicated.
  • is absolutely in love with the business; he wakes up thinking of it and goes to bed thinking of it.
  • doesn’t know the meaning of ‘Monday blues’.
  • takes to business like a fi sh to water.
  • is capable of adapting.
  • is persistent.
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  • is inclusive: stays personally in touch with his customers, employees and vendors which gives him command, control and the ability to step in at the fi rst sign of things going bad.
  • is a great communicator and, a better listener.
  • knows when to be tight-fi sted, which by the way, is most of the time.
  • networks effectively.

To be an entrepreneur is to be special. It means that one has had the guts to drop everything else and follow his dream. He need not necessarily be an expert in his area of passion. He may or may not have had years of experience. All that matters is what he does with what he is and what he has –the uniqueness of his idea and his eccentricity. If the eccentricity can be backed up with passion, judgement, a want and readiness to sweat for it, nothing can be beyond reach.

BUDDING MANAGERS

APRIL 2014 ISSUE


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Author:  buddingmanagers
Posted On:  Thursday, 15 May, 2014 - 14:25

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