Entrepreneurs Corner

Tenacious, imaginative and flexible: these definitions come easily to mind in defining the entrepreneur. Being able to make your own luck: now, there is a talent…

There is no set definition of the word entrepreneur, nor any precise recipe for what guarantees success. What we have are “tendings”. The more that a person tends to be creative, resilient, energetic and perfectly happy with taking responsibility for whatever happens, the more that person will Impress as the entrepreneurial “type”. To achieve success, what tends to be true is that they stay healthy, find reserves of tenacity well beyond what they thought was possible, and encounter better than average luck along their journey, most particularly in the people they meet along the way.

Between the business schools and the rapidly expanding community of experts and mentors, there is no shortage of informed and thoughtful advice on three of the four key permutations of the good and bad things that happen and the things that can be done to make them happen or not, as the case may be. What are the good things that need to happen and what can we do to make them happen? What are the bad things that could happen and what can we do to keep them from happening? And if the bad things happen anyway – including the vast majority of things that will not have been foreseen – how does an entrepreneur recover, and carry on?

Those questions drive a pretty substantial industry in textbooks, marketing and mentoring materials, opinion pieces and blogs of all kinds. What is harder to pin down – again, simply because of the elusive quality of not being foreseen – is managing the good things that could happen but don’t. What can you do about something you don’t know you’re missing? You may look back and see how important that lucky meeting proved to be, but what can be done to encourage serendipity?

When whole books are devoted to this topic, a few concluding paragraphs may struggle to get very far. But we could do worse than to build an answer around two key thoughts on people and perception. First and foremost are the people, with whom we find ourselves getting luckier when we can identify the good ones, while avoiding the bad ones. And while the bad greet our new idea with “The only problem with that is…”, the good will tend more to the school of “Let’s give that a go and have some fun…”

Implicit in the above is recognition of the vital importance of perception: and not just how other people perceive things, but how we do ourselves. How positive can we be, in moving up through the gears from accepting an idea, a change, or an innovation, to “adopting” it. Better, but not good enough: still too passive. More positive is “cultivating”: thinking through the process of selecting and planting the seed, and then nurturing the young plant.

Best of all, though, is “harvesting” the positive: moving beyond cultivating into execution and delivery mode. Bad luck may still afflict, but the more we think “harvest”, the luckier we’ll get.