What I gathered is that Richard had entrepreneurship capabilities since the very beginning and perhaps this is why he quit higher formal education but kept on educating himself by getting knowledge by observing the workings of his father’s business. As evident in Point 10. of the coded frame Richard clearly mentions that “my dad was an agent so I think I got a little experience from him, but he didn’t teach me the fundamental if that makes sense. I was sort of left to be free. So it was something that I found was basically taking the opportunity out of everything that I saw”. In point 6, he mentions that he has even learned from his failures, “I think it was like a process of different things that led me to be an entrepreneur. I think; from secondary school I started on– I tried selling gold bar and penguin chocolate bars but I wasn’t successful. I learnt profit loss revenue so those were basic skills I was learning.”
In Point 83, he reflects, “I always say that a business is like a bike. Sometimes you ride, sometimes you fall. Sometimes you’re slow. Sometimes you’re fast. But, I think the aim is to always put yourself in a position where you can make money in other ways.”
Taking all the insightful observations of Richard into consideration; it can be concluded that his personality reflected the traits of an entrepreneurial leader who can successfully handle; the highs and lows of a career which is anything but smooth. Burn (2012) rightly points out that “The real driving force behind this entrepreneurial revolution are those ‘super-heroes’ called entrepreneurs who lead our gazelles. They have become the stuff of legends, increasingly held in high esteem and held up as role models to be emulated. They are often held out as embodying many ephemeral qualities – freedom of spirit, creativity, vision, zeal.” Richard seemed to be in possession of all this and hence can be considered an epitome of Corporate Entrepreneurship.
Through Point 12, it is evident that capability matters; sometimes more than education in order to be successful in entrepreneurship, “In the first year I did multimedia technology and I dropped out, and then I did international business and then I dropped out because at that point in time I was really running my business so I didn’t see how it made sense.”
He further mentions in Point no. 83 that “I think the aim is to always put yourself in a position where you can make money in other ways. For example, every single person that I work with on my team, has a skill. Someone might have graphic design. Someone might be a really good salesman. I think, if you ever need to boost up or run your business by yourself or you’re thinking of where to get finance, you can get it from yourself, and go out there and use your skills to make money.” All his viewpoints speak a lot about capabilities that an entrepreneur should utilize or try to build upon in order to sustain. The theory of Intrapreneurship can be applied here. As Burn (2012) describs; “Intrapreneurship is concerned with individual employees and how they might be encouraged to act in an entrepreneurial way within a larger organization. It is part of how internal corporate venturing can take place.”
Courage of Risk Taking
In Point 33, Richard states, “I think that when you do have a business you have to, in a sense, fail in order to appreciate life and then in order to learn from it and then succeed the second time.”In Point 97, he observs; “always realize that there are always a possibility even if you do fall, you have to get back up. I think that’s one of the main traits of entrepreneurs. Even if you look at entrepreneurs in the past, you always see that they failed in some way, or they fell in some way. Whether it’s Steve Jobs, he got kicked off Apple, Bill Gates dropped out. There’s always something before that they failed at that they succeeded. James Dyson made 5,000 prototypes before he had one successful prototype. If he had given up, he would have never gotten to—“As stated by Stone, 2014; “Being passionate about what you do is absolutely critical to the success of a venture and one should never shy away from risk taking”.
As mentioned in point 39. “I have one or two mentors that I see, not regularly, but maybe every three or four months and you just meet them, you go out for lunch, and you tell them how you’re doing, and they give you advice. So I think that’s what I have, I should receive some advice from my dad because obviously my dad is also a small business owner, so I’ll go to my dad at times for advice, and I have friends that are very business-minded that can also challenge me to be a better person. “Quoting Harvard Business School Press Pocket Mentor (2012); “through interactive real world scenarios; entrepreneurs practice shaping interactions that maximize learning and lead to better informed decisions.” So we should try to inculcate every interaction as their knowledge bank. In Point 41, Richard further mentions, “I feel like sometimes being an entrepreneur, a lot of the time you’re lonely and a lot of the time you’re alone with your thoughts, like what if this happens? what if I fail? I think that having that support and having that backbone is very important in order to succeed and even like we look at successful people today, there’s always a backbone. It might not be a woman, it could be like a team, or it could be that friend or mum or dad. I always feel like there’s a person or team behind them that enables them to achieve that goal.”
Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
In Point 43. Richard mentions; “We care for every single client. For example, now that we’re working with the NHS, when we speak to NHS trusts and private doctors we actually speak with them, have a phone call, have a chat and actually see how their needs correlate with what we can build. So I think that approach and how we aim to grow is much different from other businesses.” I think that this is an extremely valuable approach adopted by Richard’s company. By this they are not just projecting the ethical practice and corporate social responsibility but also in the words of Kuratko and Audretsch, 2009 are setting an example of “the identification and exploitation of opportunities by creating and sustaining competitive advantage” by being different by displaying a caring attitude.
Creativity and Innovation
While giving tips on what leads him to creativity and innovation in Point 45; he mentions “I think one thing I do is that I read a lot and I think a lot. I feel like reading is extremely important because it gives you the knowledge. While I think thinking is also extremely important because it gives you the opportunity to actually think on your own.” In Point 47, he stresses, “–come out with something or visualize and actually strategize and I think that’s the way to breed innovation.”All these observations points towards what has been felt by experts like Ghoshal and Bartlett, (1997) in this context; “ firms need to adapt to an ever-changing environment if they are to survive, and to do so they need to adapt their structures and cultures so as to encourage entrepreneurial activity in individual employees.” Thus by allowing individual employees to adopt their own creativity towards the growth of the company they can actually practice intrapreneurship.
“Most ‘ordinary people’ find change threatening. Entrepreneurs welcome it because it creates opportunities that can be exploited and they often create it through innovation” (Burns, 2012). This entrepreneurial characteristics is evident in Richard as well, when he mentions in Point 107, “In the next five years, with the hair thing we want to become a major retailer and wholesaler in the UK and internationally. So selling different types of products, different types of hair extensions is in plans. And with the software, I think that we want to be able to disrupt the NHS and the private medical industry by providing software that allows patients and GPs and doctors to communicate; actually seeing each other face to face.” In this context, Burns (2012) rightly observed, “Corporate entrepreneurship is a loose term used to describe entrepreneurial behavior in established, larger organizations. The objective of this is simple – to gain competitive advantage by encouraging innovation at all levels in the organization – corporate, divisional, business unit, functional or project team levels.”
Richard felt a lot about the welfare of his customers as evident in Point 57, “I think a lot of entrepreneurs when they start their businesses, all they think about is money, money, profit, profit. And I think what you have to understand is that if you meet the needs of your market, the money will always come in. So I think the aim as an entrepreneur is to be extremely customer focused. And when you are customer focused, the money will automatically come in because you’re satisfying the customers’ need and they’re paying you for that.”It seems that Richard is going on the right path. In this context, Dyche (2002) rightly mentions, “Building good relations with customers is a business strategy that helps companies tighten their business practices across organizations while forging an ironclad connection with its customers.”
In Point 97, Richard rightly observs, “if you look at entrepreneurs in the past, you always see that they failed in some way, or they fell in some way. Whether it’s Steve Jobs, he got kicked off Apple, Bill Gates dropped out. He had stock before that he failed. There’s always something before that they failed at that they succeeded. James Dyson made 5,000 prototypes before he had one successful prototype. If he had given up, he would have never gotten to-“
In point 119, he advises that “I would say be assertive, accept rejection, and never give up. When I was being an entrepreneur a lot of the time I was passive and it meant that I couldn’t take advantage of opportunities, and I think that now I’ve learned to be a lot much more assertive. I think that with rejection, you should learn to handle rejection, because you’ll always get rejection, especially when you’re starting up. You could send 100 emails and get two back. But you have to learn to deal with that. You have to be so strong. And the last one is never give up, because you will experience hardship, will experience failure, but you have to get up, have to continue getting up, because at the end of the day that’s what makes entrepreneurs. If every single person never gave up, everyone would be super successful. But I think that’s what sets you apart, is the ability to keep going on.” “Persistance is responsible for more than 90 percent of success. Persistence keeps you on course and eventually leads you to your goals” (Deitz, 2008).
Giving an idea about his future plans; in Point 105 he said, “I think the Internet has made that very, very possible to do so. Whereas like maybe 50 years ago to expand, you have to open a new store, now that you are online, you can simply market to another location, market to another demographic. I think the Internet makes that possible and that’s something I’d definitely thinking of going international. We want to continue to grow and we don’t want to give up ever because that’s just becoming complacent.”
In Point 107, he mentions, “In the next five years, with the hair thing we want to become a major retailer and wholesaler in the UK and internationally. So selling different types of products, different types of hair extensions is in plans. And with the software, I think that we want to be able to disrupt the NHS and the private medical industry by providing software that allows patients and GPs and doctors to communicate; actually seeing each other face to face.”
In this context, it has been rightly observed by Jakhotia (2013) that Good Planning “acts as a comprehensive set of performance –based strategies by spelling out the complementary contradictory relationships amongst various functional strategies.”
Richard was very clear about his goals. In Point 111, he mentions, “we definitely want to grow and we definitely want to expand. In Point 113, he adds “In the next five years, I would probably be a much better entrepreneur and a much skilled person than I am now. I want to learn many more things that will enable me to grow even more. You never know, I could be doing the same thing I’m doing now, or I could be running another business. But I think I definitely want to stay as an entrepreneur and stay solving problems that people and markets have. Talking about future; he says in Point 115 “W e are definitely looking to go international.” Zahra (1991) connected goal setting to corporate entrepreneurship by mentioning that corporate entrepreneurship consists of ‘activities aimed at creating new businesses in established companies’.
I was able to relate to all the theories covered in the course – Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Entrepreneur, Intrapreneurship, Managing Innovations and Creativity and Innovation while coding the themes and analyzing the interview. Richard seemed to be a dedicated entrepreneur; always finding ways to improve and create competitive advantage. His vision and drive was influencing and it pointed towards the fact that without formal education in entrepreneurship; one can still succeed if his intentions are good for his company, partners, employees and people at large. In the words of Burns (2012), Entrepreneurship “is about institutionalizing a process of continuous strategizing, learning from customers, competitors and the environment. It is about remaining flexible, encouraging change and managing rapid growth.”However; whether it is practical learning or theoretical learning; entrepreneurship is a field which never fails to teach its practitioners important lessons in life and makes a person richer not only monetarily but also in terms of insights as it leads to a sea of technical and behavioral knowledge that a practitioner gets access to in the process of nurturing his business.
Burns, P. (2012) Corporate Entrepreneurship: Innovation and Strategy in Large Organizations. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Deitz, J. (2008) The 3 Simple Secrets of Success After the Diploma: Integrity, Persistence and Discipline. Newyork: Universe Inc.
Dyche, J (2002) The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management. Boston: Adisas Wesley.
Ghoshal, S. and Bartlett, C.A. (1997) The Individualized Corporation: A Fundamentally New Approach to Management. New York: Harper Business.
Harvard Business School Press Pocket Mentor (2012) Persuading People: Expert Solution to Everyday Challenges. New York: Harvard Business Press.
Jakhotia, G.P. (2013) Strategic Planning, Execution and Measurement (SPEM): a Powerful Toll for CEO. Florida: CRC Press
Kuratko, D. and Audretsch, D. (2009) Strategic Entrepreneurship: Exploring Different Perspectives of an Emerging Concept. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 33.
Stone, B. (2014) Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of a Creative Mind. New York: Grand Central Publishing
Zahra, S.A. (1991) Predictors and Financial Outcomes of Corporate Entrepreneurship: An Exploratory Study. Journal of Business Venturing, 6(4).