These theories are all based on the idea that the entrepreneur starts on a Macro level, working from the top down. They take into account all the environmental factors involved in the entrepreneurial goals. This perspective suggests that entrepreneurs influence the market with their creative ideas and processes, using these opportunities to take the market forward, leading the way and making the market more efficient; creating and realising new ideas; innovating. As the entrepreneur succeeds, they sell their ideas on, creating income, jobs, and new skill sectors. They then start looking for the next new venture, to exploit another new market. To the contrary, the problem with this perspective is that it tends to make individual outstanding entrepreneurs pale into significance as theories are based on a grand scale; the entrepreneur becomes one of many in a macro level, meaning significant ideas seem small scale compared to the ideas of multinational corporate entities.
There is a second perspective on Entrepreneurs is that their success is based on personality traits. This perspective starts from a Micro level (namely the Entrepreneurs psychological makeup) and builds from this into a grand and successful implementation of what an entrepreneur should be; a stereotype of an entrepreneur – i.e. Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. From this theory, an entrepreneur is summarised as a risk taker with need for achievement. They are perceived to be competitive, creative, optimistic, and self-governing. Entrepreneurs are expected to be heavily influenced by age, social circumstances, background, religion and education. This theory is based on general ideas of well-known entrepreneurial stereotypes. The major flaw with this theory is that, with stereotyping, it does not always fit. It is impossible to identify one single profile that all entrepreneurs possess. Some have many similar traits; some have none yet are successful.
(BARON.R AND SHANE.S, 2008) introduce the idea that entrepreneurs use a perspective called the process perspective. This theory raises questions of what an entrepreneur actually IS and that they are defined by behaviour. This modern theory dictates that entrepreneurialism may be an acquired skill. It is actually suggested that it is possible to learn to be an entrepreneur, and that an Apprenticeship with a successful entrepreneur may lead to the student becoming an entrepreneur themselves. (TIMMONS, JA. SPINELLI, S. 2006)
The idea dictates that there are a number of processes used to identify, realise and make an opportunity successful. These are:
- generation of new ideas
- recognition of opportunity
- assembling resources
- running and growing business
- harvesting/reaping rewards
(TIMMONS, JA. SPINELLI, S. 2006.)
Timmons and Spinelli have summarised that the entrepreneur is skilled in generation of ideas (creativity), recognising opportunity, deciding to proceed with viable ideas, assembling resources required to pursue ventures, creating and organising these ventures, achieving success and managing/expanding that success. As an entrepreneur, no matter what personality traits they have, it is these skills that are identified as paramount to their success.
From understanding these perspectives, there is a need to define exactly what an entrepreneurial opportunity is. An opportunity is a situation that arises which creates potential to make a profit from a new or creative idea. There three main concepts of how we identify opportunity. They are:
Objectivist – From an objectivist viewpoint, the entrepreneur is of the thinking that there are already lots of opportunities in the world. The objectivist understands that to become successful, you have to go out, study, identify, and ‘claim’ or grab the opportunities in the world, and work hard to achieve them.
Subjectivist – The subjectivist is a creative thinker. The subjectivist believes that opportunities do not exist unless the subjectivist creates them from scratch. Without the mind of the subjectivist entrepreneur, the opportunity does not exist and will never exist unless they conceptualise it.
Objectivist-Subjectivist - The objectivist-subjectivist believes that opportunities also exist in the business world. They differ in the theory that, as an objectivist- subjectivist, the opportunities are already taken, exploited or utilised in a certain way, however they must learn and therefore interpret the opportunities available and make them work in their own unique way to achieve success.
There are many different forms of opportunity available to the entrepreneur. Whether it be a new idea for a product, service, marketplace, way of production, or new business process, all are open to interpretation in the eyes of the potential entrepreneur and are ready and willing to be either created - or taken advantage of, dependent on the which perspective is chosen.
Opportunities are created by the changing world around us. New processes, laws, inventions, new markets, social change, and change in demographic. Entrepreneurs can spot these opportunities as they arise and cater to the needs of the changing marketplace. Truly great entrepreneurial ideas stem from change.
For example, the evolution of computers leads to technological change. This in turn led to inventions of hand held mobile phones that also doubled as computers, examples being items such as the iphone/ipad, smartphones and portable laptops. The inception of these products led to a regulatory change in laws, which meant that in car hands free kits had to be invented so that drivers did not use these devices in cars whilst driving. Linked to this is social change – Smartphones have been inundated with apps, services and games – a person can now do more from their mobile hand held device (play games, email, purchase online, transfer money) than they could on computers less than 20 years ago.
This all leads to exposure to opportunity which invites new potential entrepreneurs, users of these inventions, makers of these inventions, to expose themselves to the industry and create a new idea, process or service which no one else has thought of previously and encourages them to apply their more intense level of knowledge (or specialisation) along with key points illustrated to achieve success. This implies that entrepreneurialism is indeed ongoing; creativity flows and is a constant evolution of new, exciting and innovating new ideas which will pioneer us as the world evolves.
From a Macro perspective - assumed to be based on an Economic perspective – Entrepreneurialism is theorised that Entrepreneurs themselves influence and shape the market in which they are member of. The Entrepreneur influences his/her market directly, by driving it forward, making it more efficient or ‘bettering’ previous ideas. One prime example of this is one of Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic. Currently, Branson is selling the opportunity to join the first commercial space travel flights. By doing so, he is a pioneer in furthering travel boundaries, selling an idea which no one else has yet thought of and driving the market forward. Branson has an innovative idea. Using Schumpeter’s’ theory of Creative Destruction, Branson has taken the idea of long distance travel, destroyed it, and reconfigured it in a far more interesting way.
From a Micro perspective, it is theorised that entrepreneurialism is a Psychology based skill. An example of this is Craig Johnston. Johnston was a professional footballer, and he realised that there was a market for a better design of boot which grips the ball allowing it to move better in the air. Using his creative and innovative idea, and along with his insider knowledge, he spent his own personal time, and risked his own wealth, developing a boot which he perfected and was eventually sold in 1994 as the Adidas Predator boot. Mr Johnson still works in the same industry and is developing more new innovations for sport.
The points illustrated above all lead to a conclusion. Entrepreneurship is answered as ‘Converting visions into reality’ (BARON.R, SHANE.S, 2008) and thus, an Entrepreneur is a person who converts their visions into reality, making a successful investment in doing so (either psychological, social or financial) to achieve a reward. Entrepreneurs identify business opportunity by analysing the environment surrounding them, utilising Objective, Subjective or Objective-Subjective approaches, weighing up what opportunities stem from change, putting all the ideas together, then exposing and identifying whether the opportunity is worth pursuing. The problem in this lies with the fact that an opportunity is merely a vision to begin with.
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