The resourceful pursuit of opportunity
I am busy exploring the meaning of entrepreneurship. With the previous delivery I discussed the seven traits which feature most in entrepreneurs, which are: tenacity, passion, tolerance of ambiguity, vision, self-belief, flexibility and rule-breaking. I concluded with my preferred definition for entrepreneurship: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled”. That’s the 12-word definition of entrepreneurship that they teach at Harvard Business School. Let us look deeper into the meaning of this short but powerful depiction of entrepreneurship.
Opportunity and Resourcefulness
I found this definition about 3 years ago in an online article by Bill Murphy. Murphy lays down some meaningful arguments which convinced me that this is such a spot-on definition for entrepreneurship. Let us break it down and look at Murphy’s reasoning.
1. “Entrepreneurship”. Murphy views entrepreneurship as more as just a matter of being a boss or a leader or owning a business. It’s something different – a way of looking at the world.
2. “…is the pursuit of opportunity…”. There are two key words here: pursuit and opportunity. “Pursuit” means there has to be action. It’s about having impact, about trying to change something. Simply thinking about an idea doesn’t cut it, and neither does doing what you’ve always done. Similarly, a true entrepreneur is always pursuing “opportunity.” That means something new, bigger, nicer, better, smarter, more useful. Here’s where Murphy really start to differentiate true entrepreneurs from everyone else. He maintains that there are a lot of good people out there running very nice businesses. However, if they’re not chasing new opportunities – if they’re coasting along, doing what they’ve always done – then maybe they’ve given up the mantle of true entrepreneurship.
3. “…without regard to resources currently controlled”. This means it doesn’t matter how little you have at the start. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have money, or that you don’t have all the required skills, or that you don’t have a team to help you. Murphy advises that at the very beginning especially, an entrepreneur must reach for the stars and he/she must not let the opportunities being pursued be limited by the assets they currently have. Instead, let the attractiveness of the opportunity serve as your guide. For one thing, while capital is a necessary ingredient, the truth is that all of those would-be entrepreneurs out there who blame a lack of money for their inability to get started are playing the wrong game. In fact, there’s an advantage to not having money at the start, because that scarcity forces you to be more resourceful.
The last argument by Murphy, is the one that really spoke to me and made me think about entrepreneurship, and I quote: “For just about any decision you have to make in life, there are two ways to make choices. Most people choose the first method of decision making. They look at the array of options that seem reasonably attainable, and then pick the best one. They choose a career because it’s what their parents advised, or because there are jobs available. They live somewhere because it’s what they’re familiar with. They surround themselves with the kinds of people they’ve always known. The true entrepreneur, however, sees things differently. Instead of choosing the best available option, he or she thinks big, and tries to identify the best possible solution, regardless of whether it seems completely implausible and unattainable. Then, he or she gets to work, trying to make that impossible dream a reality. If you choose the first path, you might save yourself a lot of heartache, and a lot of ups and downs on the roller coaster of life. However, you also run a greater risk of achieving your goals only to find you didn’t push yourself enough. Which path will you choose”?
Next time I want to look at how to find opportunity and generate your business idea. I conclude with a quote by Tony Robbins, which in essence summarises the message in this delivery: “It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you”.
Murphy B. J. 2014. 12 Words That Will Change Everything You Think About Entrepreneurship. Online: http://www.inc.com/bill-murphy-jr