“Rise and rise again, and lambs will become lions”
Ridley Scott’s Robbin Hood (2010)
Entrepreneurship is a popular word now. In global view, the increasingly popular discussion around the dawn of a new post-crisis economy put this word as a centerpiece of economic growth. We need more jobs, and that’s why we need entrepreneurs. We need new economic vehicles that support sustainable economy and decreasing our carbon fuels addiction, and we need new entrepreneurs for this purpose. The age of social media delivers the unprecedented opportunity for businesses in the borderless cyber-world. This inspires the tide of techno-preneurs.
Thomas Friedman‘s statement a couple years ago in a giant news network about economic booming reminds me of how we should see this in perspective. He suggested that every economic boom will lead to economic bubble, and this bubble will eventually burst. His arguments was that we should learn from the burst, and seek to utilize the advantage of what left from that burst. He gave the example of the 90’s boom in dotcom businesses now provide us a foundation strong players in ICT business.
This leads me to a list of notes:
1. The current trend of entrepreneurship is displaying a character of economic boom.
We will see lots of entrepreneurs, and that construct the entrepreneurial bubble. When it burst, it will leave us a bunch of strong and determined entrepreneurs. They will lead the tide of the new economy, until it reach the brink of its era, where the call for the new boom is waiting.
The dotcom boom is a good example in global context. In Indonesian context, we’ve seen real estate boom that leave us few surviving developers. And now we are witnessing the boom in creative industry, ICT, finance, retail and culinary, entertainment and hospitality, and more to come. They might be small and not yet outstanding, just like lambs. However, some of these lambs will turn into lions.
2. Unlike the myth we love to hear, not all entrepreneurs start from the same point.
Every successful entrepreneur starts from small steps, that’s what people said. Is this true? Some believe it is. As for me, I have a bit different stand on this. I agree that all entrepreneur have a starting point, but I don’t think every entrepreneur had similar level of starting point. Some might start from the lowest point of their life, and their story results as a ‘zero to hero’ life experience. Some other had better foundation to start from, and they outsmart others in the race to fame.
In his Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell even said that legacy is a prominent in defining successful personalities, such as Bill Gates. Legacy is something these successful people already had before they embark to the their succesful enterprises. Bill Gates’ affluent and well-educated parents provide strategic connections to deploy his historical move of buying from Seattle Computer and sell it again to IBM. This was the story behind MS-DOS, the ancestor of the world-renowned Windows (it was told that his mother, Mary Gates, helped the not-yet-20 years old Bill to get in touch with IBM). Gates brilliant moves results from a history of a family with visions combine with his own brilliant ideas. Hence, some do jump from a higher ground than others.
3. But, they went through rises and falls, and their courage defines them.
Yes, no matter how they started, their journey were always bumpy roads. They had failed, and they failed several times. But they rose again each time they failed. Despite the legacy factors, they all are courageous people. They have the courage to take risks, to acknowledge their own failures, and to learn from it so they can rise again.
Contrary to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs of Macintosh had a different family background that put him out of college, but still developing his ICT skills through his friends. His brilliant ideas was supported with his strong relationship skill and entrepreneurial skill in his quest to establish Apple as top-of-mind in design and technology. It’s about courage. They might be lambs at their first step, different kind of lambs in fact, but surely their courage turns them into lions.
4. Courage and brilliant ideas are more as results of life experiences, rather than school.
Most of great entrepreneur are people who are critical to whatever they learn. Some of them are even critical to anything education has to provide. This is no way of saying that they are uneducated. In fact, most of the entrepreneurs are brilliant learner, and that’s why they tend to be critical and think in a lateral manner.
So, is school education the enemy of creativity and entrepreneurship? That’s not it, even though there is a little truth in it. Sir Ken Robinson once explained in TED Conference about how school system kills creativity. The rigid and industrial school system trying to embody ‘industrial process in producing skillful people’. This put creative experience at risk, since freedom and creation require more passionate attitude, adaptive values and uncertainty in learning process. Entrepreneurial example such as Richard Branson of Virgin explicitly said that passion is more essential for his success than business calculations.
5. Owning our own business will not automatically make us successful entrepreneurs. Having independence and creativity as our character and put it into results will.
We can’t deny that most entrepreneur are smart and intelligence. Some of they might not graduated from school/college, but they are brilliant nevertheless. Some came from wealthy family, and some other came from standard or even poor economic background. However, they have similarity, which shows that all of them are independent and creative.
Successful entrepreneurs always have impressive personal brands. Some of them were creative employees before they decided to establish their own enterprise. They are artist with amazing ideas, and they are great marketer because they can market their ideas as something valuable for the market. If you only great in making ideas, but not in ‘selling’ them, you are an artist. If you are great in selling and marketing other people ideas, not yours, then you are a marketer. Successful entrepreneurs possess both characters.
There are many exemplary entrepreneurs we can learn from. Not only Gates, Branson or Jobs. We can find lots of great entrepreneurial figures in local settings. An owner of locally produce outfit store in your town may not be popular in media, but she may be a great entrepreneur. Or you might find it closer, such as the next door neighbor. These people are great life learner, because they have entrepreneurial characters. Characters are developed through life tampered by challenges and tough times. Things you can not learn from school only.
They are independent people with creative ideas and capability to turn those ideas into valuable products or services. They are people who passionately and restlessly trying to win the market with their vision. They are courageous people who decide not to take everything they hear or see without question. They want to create more than to consume. They were lambs who had rose and rose again every time they fall, and now they are no longer lambs; they are lions.
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