What I took away from our Entrepreneurship class

by George Thomas, ESSEC Global MBA Student Ambassador 2017-2018 | Strategy & Management Major

For the longest time, I believed that most people who succeed as entrepreneurs inherently possess certain skills, personality, and capabilities that set them up for success – skills that cannot be taught in the classroom. One either has them or not. While it is true that successful entrepreneurs require certain traits, what my Entrepreneurship class with Prof. Lepoutre helped me appreciate was that most of those skills and capabilities can be learned and acquired, if not all.
Below are my key take-aways and reflections from the class:

3 Key Take-Aways
  • Entrepreneurship is first and foremost about action. The business plan on its own no matter how good it looks on paper is only any good if implemented and tested. Especially in highly uncertain circumstances, ideation or brainstorming will only help so much. Sooner than later, one needs to go out and test those ideas in the market preferably on a small scale first. Cliched as it may be, you need to be able to build the plan as you fly it. It’s imperative to be action-oriented by focusing on activities within your control; instead of predicting your future, make your future.
  • Inspiration process involves: a) Defining the challenge, b) observing people, c) forming insights. During the ideation process, our own experience can be a blocker, may limit our creativity or color our vision. It is important to observe people and absorb ideas like a child. Once you have an idea, implementation may not always be linear or chronological; it could run in parallel and in cycles.
  • Principle of Affordable Loss: In uncertain environments, entrepreneurs need to draw the lines in terms of the risk they will take. Their decision is based on the downside (what they lose) as opposed to Managers who will invest based on the NPV (returns) of their investment.
2 Things that were interesting to me
  • Entrepreneurs do not always come up with original ideas. As per the study conducted by Blide (1994), 71% entrepreneurs replicate or modify already existing ideas. Only 4% discovered new ideas through systematic research. Case in point: Boss Ross, who did not come up with the idea himself; instead he drew on them from one of his contacts.
  • Entrepreneurs earn 35% less over a 10-year period than they could have earned in a "paid job". Begs the question, why do they still do it: perhaps the answer is autonomy, power, altruism and financial gain.
1 Thing I would still like to introspect
  • I would like to explore the paradox of the following two statements:
    • Go for many ideas (‘to have good ideas, you must first have many…’). OR Encourage wild ideas (what if…)
    • Limit your ideation/creativity within boundaries
I believe, if you are able to get as many ideas with your area of focus, you might be able to reach a balance.

In summary, as Prof. Lepoutre put it, ‘entrepreneurship is about creating value, capturing value and delivering value’.

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