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Prepared for the September 20, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
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Real Entrepreneurs’ Defining Habits
Real entrepreneurs thrive on uncertainty, says Rita
Gunter McGrath, a professor at the Columbia University Graduate
School of Business and co-author of a new book, "The
Mindset." Subtitled "Strategies for Creating Opportunity in
an Age of Uncertainty," the 380-page hardback will be published
by Harvard Business School Press in October and costs $29.95. The
co-author is Ian MacMillan
McGrath lives in Princeton Junction with her husband and their two
children; she has been in business herself (running a political
business and a Kinko’s-like copy shop) and focuses on entrepreneurship
for her academic pursuits.
Define what makes a worthwhile business opportunity, the authors say,
and then make any necessary tradeoffs to keep from spreading yourself
too thin. Look for where the greatest dangers lie and figure out ways
to sidestep them. Create an environment full of energy so that your
workers are eager to turn uncertainty into success.
Here are the characteristics of the "habitual entrepreneur,"
defined as those who have made careers of starting businesses, some
in start-ups, some working within corporations. They have in common,
the authors say, "finely honed skills in forging opportunity from
uncertainty." They are particularly good at finding solutions
that are "roughly right," without spending time to find the
exactly correct and expensive answer.
Habitual entrepreneurs have five characteristics in common. To quote
from the book:
entrepreneurs stay alert, always looking for the chance to profit
from change and disruption in the way business is done. Their greatest
impact occurs when they create entirely new business models. New
models revolutionize how revenues are made, costs are incurred, or
operations are conducted, sometimes throughout an entire industry.
One reason that the emergence of the Internet as a new medium of
has been accompanied by dizzyingly high company valuations is that
investors perceive its potential to profitably transform virtually
every aspect of economic life.
Habitual entrepreneurs not only are alert enough to spot
but make sure that they act on them. Most maintain some form of
or register, of unexploited opportunities. They make sure that they
revisit their inventory of ideas often but they take action only when
it is required. They make investments only if the competitive arena
is attractive and the opportunity is ripe.
exhausting themselves and their organizations by chasing after every
option. Even though many habitual entrepreneurs are wealthy, the most
successful remain ruthlessly disciplined about limiting the number
of projects they pursue. They go after a tightly controlled portfolio
of opportunities in different stages of development. They tightly
link their strategy with their choice of projects, rather than
their efforts too broadly.
Both words are important. People with an entrepreneurial mindset
— that is, they get on with it instead of analyzing new ideas
to death. Yet they are also adaptive-able to change directions as
the real opportunity, and the best way to exploit it, evolves.
Habitual entrepreneurs involve many people — both inside and
the organization — in their pursuit of an opportunity. They create
and sustain networks of relationships rather than going it alone,
making the most of the intellectual and other resources people have
to offer and helping those people to achieve their goals as well.
who want to create an entrepreneurial mindset in their organizations,
but — with its fresh look at success strategies — it will
also challenge the small business person.
— Barbara Fox
Thursday, September 21
A wise person once said, "experience is the best
teacher, as long as it is someone else’s." Owners of small
in Mercer County will be able to tap a motherlode of other peoples’
experiences at the Pre-Business Workshop on Thursday, September 21,
from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Mercer County College. Cost: $49 including
coffee break and lunch. Call 609-586-4800, extension 3469.
Mari Galvez de Cerdas
Development Center at the James Kerney campus, will moderate a panel
of five retired executives and business owners, members of the Service
Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
The panel includes Seymour Buchine
CEO of Siegel Tire Corporation; Ada Tariff
Inc.; Morris Kolstein
The workshop will also help business owners cope with various issues
that confront small businesses. Suzanne Rosenblum
and Associates, will help explain the basics of record-keeping and
taxes. Jeff Perlman
insurance matters. Lynn McDougal
will discuss some common legal issues relevant to small businesses.
Galvez de Cerdas is a native of Albuquerque who went to Eastern New
Mexico University, Class of 1992, has a master’s in organizational
management from the University of Phoenix, and has spent nearly three
years in Costa Rico as a Peace Corps volunteer.
She will also be on tap all during the Trenton Small Business Week,
Monday to Friday, October 2 to 6, in a "Meet the Experts"
Consulting Marathon at the Trenton Business & Technology Center, 36
South Broad Street (see story, page 12).
Through the MCCC Small Business Development Center, Galvez de Cerdas
is scheduling one-hour sessions with experts on such topics as
minority or women-owned business certification, writing a business
plan, securing capital, marketing your business on the Internet,
accounting and bookkeeping procedures, tax strategies, managing an
urban business, and legal issues. Appointments should be made by
The Entrepreneurial Training Institute, an
training program sponsored by the New Jersey Development Authority
for Small Businesses, Minorities, and Women’s Enterprises, starts
Thursday, September 21, at 6 p.m. at Commerce Bank on Royal Road in
Flemington. This course is also running concurrently in Trenton.
it has already begin, places may be still be available. Enrollment
is limited to 20 per class. Call 609-292-9279, E-mail to
or go to the website (www.njeda.com).
The textbook, "Business Planning Guide," is by David H.
Bangs Jr. and covers such topics as business planning, financing,
and marketing. To graduate, students must attend six of the eight
classes and complete all written work, including a business plan.
These plans will be subjected to a "panel review" by lawyers,
bankers, and accountants on the last night. Graduates are prime
to qualify for monies from a revolving loan fund established by the
Though the NJDA operates under the supervision of the New Jersey
Development Authority, the NJDA has its own funds derived from casino
revenues. It offers loans for start-up and micro businesses to spend
on real estate, fixed assets, and working capital. For fixed assets
and working capital, the same pool can provide loan guarantees.
The curriculum has been set by Paul Belliveau
and Ronald Cook
consulting business, is an adjunct professor at Rutgers’ Graduate
School of Management, and gives seminars at the Small Business
Centers of Rutgers and Kean University. Cook is an associate professor
in Rider’s College of Business Administration, where he teaches
in entrepreneurship, venture planning, family business, and small
business consulting. He also directs the Small Business Institute
at Rider. Nearly 400 people have graduated from the training program
in the past eight years — 77 of them last season.
An employee’s failure to write well probably gives more
managers more ulcers than any other single cause. It’s hard to know
what to do with someone who can’t write a decent memo. One place to
turn: Mercer County Community College, which offers a business
certificate. One course for this certificate, Effective Business
has just started; seven more begin this fall.
The core courses include Presentation Skills for Success,
in Global Business Style, and Assertiveness Skills. Electives —
and the certificate requires 20 hours of these — include
in the Language of American Business, Building Self Esteem, Foreign
Accent Reduction, and any of the management certificate courses. Here
is the schedule:
speech language specialist, 10 sessions, $187. "Communicating
in Global Business Style," Beverly Leach
Services, four sessions, $85. Both begin Wednesday, September 20,
at 7 p.m.
consultant, five sessions, $85. Begins Thursday, October 5, 7:10 p.m.
communication consultant, five sessions, $140. Wednesday, October
18, 6:30 p.m.
$68. Thursday, November 9, 7:10 p.m.
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