Thank you to Kimberly from NECEC for rather eloquently summarizing some of the thoughts I shared at a workshop on “Resourceful Entrepreneurs” at URES 2012.
Bilal Zuberi led the 2012 University Research & Entrepreneurship Symposium (URES, pronounced by those in the know as U-Rez) breakout session titled “Resourceful Entrepreneurs.” An innocent title, it called up images of a boy scout with a good Swiss army knife and a set of dry matches, but what followed seemed more like instructions on how to be part of a contortionist trapeze troupe embedded in an every changing landscape of ropes and bars. Let me explain.
Zuberi said that, from the viewpoint of a potential investor, technology usually comes in second in importance to the quality of the entrepreneur. He went on to praise entrepreneurs who could operate effectively on a shoestring budget, overcome the many and varied hurdles set before them, call upon their own internal resources to pull together necessary analytics and due diligence, be the champion for their idea and do whatever else was required to give wings to their idea; in short, a contortionist.
In their flexibility, great entrepreneurs clearly identify their place in their team, they recognize the critical role of mentors and role models, and importantly, they understand that, maybe, they may not be the best person to step into the role of CEO, notwithstanding their passion for and dedication to their blossoming idea. The successful contortionist entrepreneur exists as part of a team. She understands when to let go of the trapeze bar and trust that her network of experienced team members will do their part in the aerial ballet to make the move successful. She must pay attention to the commands and signals of the troupe and react with humble and coordinated aplomb.
Similarly, the successful entrepreneur outlines a path, describes scenarios, and imagines what each step of the process must look like for success. She’s got a plan. She’s outlined the supply chain, she knows where she fits in, she sees clearly and can even describe the road to market. Thank goodness, because with all these team members coming together, proper execution depends first on careful choreography, but also on being a well rounded athlete – especially when the landscape of ropes and bars changes, the plan takes a radical detour, and mid-swing it’s not clear how to land that triple summersault.
Zuberi described the resourceful entrepreneur with equal color, significantly less chaos and in a more concise way than I have. He summarized that raw intellect and the willingness to learn are at the root of the successful entrepreneur. She is a living paradox, a self-reliant and yet humble part of team, maneuvering the business forward with an astute and agile plan. Oh, and let’s not forget she’s got some really fantastic technology too.