Entrepreneurship get things done and implement the goals set

Entrepreneurship involves taking risk,
creating something which is valuable to others, working with people and
constantly learning new things. In my experience as a part of the bootstrapping
challenge, I worked on developing these qualities. It took a long time to realise
that running a business is not a piece of cake, it involves uncertainty,
decision making, team work, adaptability, creativity and many more factors.
“learning through doing” also called trial and error was one of my main moto
while performing the tasks creating a learning perspective. Most people enter
entrepreneurship “in a substantial learning situation” (Gibb and Ritchie, 1982;
p35). From a dynamic learning perspective, there remains a pressing need to
understand how individual people learn to work in entrepreneurial ways. A
substantial learning situation is assessed in this essay, through analysing
every detail of my business from an entrepreneurial mindset, from the starting
till the end. Some critical arguments are made to understand the importance of
the business while reflecting on the mistakes made and final outcome. So, was
there enough potential in the idea or it was just a flaw from the beginning?

My team’s initial idea was to do something
different. Something out of the box involving creativity, value, culture and
current market trends. I thought of opening a tea stall initially but that
didn’t seem viable given out initial investment of 5 pounds only. We then came
up with an idea of promoting businesses on campus through our services of
distributing flyers. Voila, we had a business idea. It required no investment
or raw materials but networking with the business which everyone thought would
be easy. However, I didn’t know how our strategy will unfold. Firstly, my
expectations at that time were very high in terms of getting clients, money and
the whole idea in general. While I wanted to get things done and implement the
goals set at the beginning and not changing them time to time. McGrath and
McMillan describe this as implemental mindset where everything is interpreted
using known patterns and the outcome is always some kind of action. In contrast,
an elaborative mindset is concentrated on assessing the situation on obtaining
information, when people are more open to new information and take better
decision. But is elaborative mindset always producing good results? Or
implemental mindset can find a way to succeed in business. According to a
Stanford study, students tend to perform well in a growth mindset, improving
their self-efficacy than students with a fixed mindset who believe their
abilities are fixed to a certain extent. In a business context, elaborative
mindset opens a much broader horizon of possibilities whereas implemental or
fixed mindset keep a narrow approach and results in bad outcome. Due to my
fixed mindset towards the business and ideas, our team didn’t acquire any
clients by the end of the challenge resulting in zero revenue. But with this in
view, is it necessary that our result was a cause of our actions or market played
a role in deciding the outcome?

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Entrepreneurial activities emerge within cultural
and social contexts and through social interaction (Korsgaard and Anderson,
2011). Through this quote, I can assess my social and cultural background, the
environment I live in and what are the needs and demands of the people. With my
business, the social and cultural context was very simple; the need to promote
“eating out” culture among the youth. The social space in Lancaster University
consists of various restaurants and bars where students can build a social life
and have a good time. Looking through this hole, I improvised our idea,
introducing online promotions on sites like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Moreover,
personal branding like leaflets in student accommodation, bars and social
spaces like the learning zone. To affect the cognitive tuning of students of
how they perceive or characterise the scenario is said to be most important
attribute to entrepreneurial mindset. By making students believe that “eating
out” in restaurants and bars is a normal thing and making them aware of the
resources on campus was our business vision. My beliefs and assumptions were
however challenged when we approached the business with our idea containing a
letter of proposal which had our pricing and what we can offer.

Before moving on to the businesses, our
pricing strategy was based on how many leaflets can we distribute. According to
my intuition and assumption I came up to a figure of 1000 leaflets we can
distribute within 2 hours. My conscious awareness about this rapid decision was
probably due to lack of experience or knowledge. Therefore, we came up to
charging 30 pounds for 1000 flyers giving 1 flyer as 3 pence which was
relatively cheap for a service. On one hand, the service we offered could
potentially benefit the businesses in a huge way, until I encountered the
episode of networking to the businesses. Entrepreneurial mindset consists of
attributes of doing things, two of them are alertness and prior knowledge. It
means actively search for new information and opportunities as well as
combination of work experience, personal events and education (Shane, 2000).
While we networked with business like Ketchap, Sultan of Lancaster, Lusu
living, Wibbly Wobbly, Subway and Costa our prior knowledge about the market
and their needs contradicted the reality. Lot of these businesses were not
looking to promote or have already done so through other means. However, we got
two clients interested in the services: LUSU living and Ketchap.

After
revaluating my current condition and ambitions for the business, I realised
that I certainly overlooked the market and made serious mistakes at the bottom
level which resonated in the outcome. Postle (1993) refers to this as the
‘affective’ mode of learning, which ‘refers to learning by encounter, by direct
experience. It finds expression through “being there”, through immersion in an
experience’ (p33). However, was our outcome really bad? Not exactly, to some
extent the businesses showed interest but didn’t reply to our emails after
constant try. But, they are not the one to be blamed, reflection involves
learning form mistakes and objectively improving as an entrepreneur. This was
just the beginning of my challenge.

The internet boom in early 2000s
revolutionised the humankind forever. On the other hand, it made a lot of
businesses fail on a massive scale due to lack of adaptability and
incompetency. Compaq became the worlds’ largest supplier of PC’s during the
1990’s. In 1986, it had a record sales of $329 million. After twenty years, the
company had $2billion in short term debt and was acquired by Hewlett Peckard.
Due to the boom, the technological stocks were heavily impacted driving market
forces. Compaq’s rapid growth merely affected the industry it was operating in
and the global markets desire for improved technology. This example of failure
shows typical factors defining changing needs of the market. But what could
Compaq had done differently which would prevent them to change their position
in the market? Factors like studying the emerging needs and spotting behaviours
is an essential skill for entrepreneurship. It also comes down to the growth of
the business which should be under conditions boundaries set. However, in my
business the growth was measured in terms of clients acquired and not in terms
of work done. Was that viable for the business strategy for long term growth?

Growth mainly has five stages of
measurement: Existence, survival, success, take off and resource maturity.
Existence occurs in start-ups, new entity in the market. Survival is to compete
with the competitors offering unique product to the customer, which results in success
 when the revenue rises and investment in
the company increases triggering its growth and resource maturity is making use
of financial and human resources of the company. Our business’s ambition was to
give the profit made to a charity for cancer research in the UK hence using our
financial resources for a cause. However, success is an essential component in
obtaining the resource maturity. On one hand, Existence and survival played an
important role in forming our business strategy as well as defined our approach
towards our operations. It required innovation, teamwork, learning and
adapting, researching and networking to be successful. So, what was missing in
our operations which created unimaginable outcome in the end?

Single loop learning is essentially the
biggest driver of failure in a business. It triggers stagnancy, inability to
cope up with the changing environment and obtaining new information. It is a
mere repetition of past behaviour – usually short term, surface, temporary. In
contrast businesses need a higher-level learning called double loop learning
which is development of complex rules and association regarding new actions. Development
of an understanding of causation. While practicing single loop learning, I
experienced inability to cope within the team, come up with new approach or
even obtain new information about the businesses. This in turn affecting the
businesses ability to adapt to its environment through harming internal
resources and capabilities and external strategic factors (Thornhill and Amit,
2003). The second dimension consist of initial condition of the business and
creating a value depending on the strategy. We created the value through our
own assumptions, formed strategy through our knowledge and research, what can
be changed in the future?

Analysing the main actions that went wrong
in our business, the spectrum of reasons of failure starts with deviance that
is individual choices and practices. My team consisted a great degree of
deviance among the people affecting our decisions and practices on a minor
level giving rise to incomplete process. Process inadequacy  mean incomplete effort or process of
communication or interaction with the client. Our strategy consisted on process
inadequacy to a high level making decisions more complex. Moreover, process
complexity making process composed of many elements break when it encounters
novel interactions. In turn giving rise to more uncertainty in the outcome due
to complex ideas and processes. A lack of clarity about the future events
causing people to take reasonable actions and producing undesirable results. On
a lower level, our strategy lacked consistency in interaction with the
businesses, uncertainty of outcomes and heterogeneous nature of individual
towards the business which gave rise to failure. However, Hedberg argues that
failure stimulates typically involve adapting to new circumstances or new
difficulties that are suddenly realised (Hedberg, 1981). Implying the learning
occurred through failure is what makes a business success.

Researchers underline that the inability of
the entrepreneur to correctly analyse the firm’s environment, to anticipate
changes and to adapt the firm to them can be at the origins of its failure
(Hambrick and D’Aveni, 1988, Thornhill and Amit, 2003). Internal reasons like
lack of motivation, misalignment with the external environment, loss of dynamism
gives rise to unhealthy behaviour towards the goal and poor level of
innovation. I learned to create motivation by posing questions about
performance, goals being met and innovation to the team as well as studying the
external environment on regular basis involving discussing plans with the
businesses, studying their needs and consumer opinions. Moreover, trying new
things to see the consumer reaction like online promotions, poles and
interviews. Therefore, to know how to take calculated risk and study the market
through networks is essential for an entrepreneur. It is a part of
entrepreneurial learning.

Another reason for failure that can be seen
is a punctual managerial error. It is the inability of the entrepreneur to
anticipate change and to adapt the firm to it. The firm expects to gain
alliance depending on its current strategy and its expectations from future
environmental conditions. This means, that the clients in our business depend
on the strategy we used to acquire them and the future environment condition we
created for the business depended on the value we offered to the community and
the business. In the last section of this paper I will discuss about the social
impact of our business and the community value in entrepreneurship and beyond.