What makes an ‘entrepreneur’ an entrepreneur?

Business How To’s

21 February 2019

What makes an ‘entrepreneur’ an entrepreneur?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Your neighbour’s kid, instead of taking on a 9-5 job, decides to open a restaurant. Would you say that is enterprising? Yes, it is. It takes courage to get off the expected, beaten path and do something different.

Does that make him an entrepreneur though? Umm, not so sure of that. There is a lot more that goes into making an entrepreneur an entrepreneur.

Is the idea or business likely to revolutionise the industry or marketplace? Your neighbour’s kid again, if the restaurant had a theme, like ‘cook with the chef’ or an idea that took it beyond food as we all know it, then perhaps he could qualify as an entrepreneur.

Yes, it can be confusing. Let’s understand this a bit more.

Meaning: what’s in a word?

The dictionary defines the word entrepreneur as ‘a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.’ So, shouldn’t that mean every businessperson is an entrepreneur, since all people start business to make profit, and they take on financial risks?

Apparently not.

An entrepreneur is often seen, and rightly so, as an innovator – one who comes up with new ideas and new business processes. A strong set of management skills and team building abilities are a must-have to become a successful entrepreneur.

As is with many things in the English language, turns out the word ‘Entrepreneur’ is also not an original. This has been borrowed from the 18th century French word ‘Entreprende’, which meant ‘to undertake’. An interesting twist to this is, the word was mainly used to describe a ‘manager or promoter of a theatrical production’. And that’s not too far from the performance of a successful entrepreneur, now, is it?

As the world, and its languages, evolved, so did the word. Through the years, the word ‘entrepreneur’ has seen plenty of changes in its meaning, particularly in relation to business and commerce.

History: how did the term originate?

Much credit goes to Richard Cantillon, an Irishman living in France, who first used the word ‘Entrepreneur’ in his book ‘Essai sur la Nature du Commerce au General (Essay on the Nature of Commerce)’, published in 1755. He uses the term ‘entrepreneur’ to describe anyone who bought or manufactured goods at a certain cost to sell them at an unknown price. It was Cantillon’s usage that established an entrepreneur as a ‘risk-taker’.

This was just the beginning. Soon after, Jean Baptiste Say, a French economist, described an ‘Entrepreneur’ as an ‘adventurer’ or ‘one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediary between capital and labour’. He even went on to define the entrepreneur as someone who ‘shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.’

It was in 1934 that Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian American political scientist and economist, gave us a more modern definition of an entrepreneur as ‘the person who destroys the existing economic order by introducing new products and services, by creating new forms of organization, or by exploiting new raw materials.’

And finally it took US business consultant, Peter Drucker, to espouse that an ‘entrepreneur’ should only be that person who creates something new, something different. According to him, an entrepreneur ‘always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity’.

There you have it, the modern day definition of what started as a manager of a theatrical production.

Rise of the Intrapreneur

Today the word ‘entrepreneur’ is no longer limited really. It is rapidly evolving and starting to mean so many different things for so many different people. In fact, entrepreneurship has gone on to include social entrepreneurship into its for-profit-only folds. Here, companies seek to fulfil social, environment and even humanitarian obligations alongside business goals.

Unlike what you might have been led to believe, entrepreneurship is not just the domain of start-ups. As a trait and a business model, it can be found within an existing firm or large organization as well. Intrapreneurship, as it is called, is when an organisation sets aside substantial funds and even has dedicated talent that focuses on special ideas or projects. These teams are instructed to treat the project like an entrepreneur would, and successful ideas are many times ‘spun-off’ as subsidiary organizations.

Intrapreneurs have all the resources and capital of the firm at their disposal and the environment to think like entrepreneurs, without the typical risks that come with the territory.

Conclusion

Do not confuse the term ‘entrepreneur’ with a ‘small business’ or even used it interchangeably. While it is a fact that most entrepreneurial ventures start out as small businesses, the converse is not strictly true – not all small businesses have an entrepreneurial streak. Many consist only of the owner, or a few employees at best, and most of them might offer an existing product or service. They do not aim at growth or are not looking to change the market.

Entrepreneurial ventures, on the other hand, offer an innovative product or service, and the entrepreneur has plans to scale up by adding employees, looking at international markets, etc. This is made possible through venture capital and angel investments. Successful entrepreneurs must have the ability to steer a business in the right direction through planning, by adapting to changing environments and by building on their own strengths and weakness.

The New Age Business Leaders’ Guide to New Year Resolutions

Business How To’s

26 December 2019

The New Age Business Leaders’ Guide to New Year Resolutions

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Come December, and the unmistakable buzz of the season is ‘New Year Resolutions’. It is that time of the year when many of us make plans to change for the better – both in our personal and professional lives. And business leaders are no exception to this tradition. However, as a new-age business leader, what should feature on your list of 2020 resolutions?

Here are our top picks:

Fail without fear

While risk-taking is part of the package in the world of business, start-ups and especially younger entrepreneurs are considered to be more financially fragile and risk-averse. New Year is the perfect occasion to bring about a change.

Every failure is but a disguised opportunity for learning and growth. Through creativity, trial and error, there will be subsequent victories. Let 2020 be the year when we fail without fear when we learn our lessons and chart new success stories.

Take radical responsibility

Every workspace has its own challenges. However, unconventional work environments call for progressive leadership qualities. Creating a harmonious and healthy work environment, particularly in the intimacy of a coworking set-up, demands radical responsibility towards clear and effective communication. This can be a small step towards changing the dynamics of your company culture.

By assuming radical responsibility, you take mindful action. As a new age business leader can you respect the strengths of the millennial generation, while also understanding their weaknesses? In 2020, let the emphasis be on productive discourses and constructive conversations. Unlike conventional offices, the open-door policy of a coworking set-up offers a fertile ground for a healthy exchange of ideas and robust professional relationships.

Foster learning

Complacency and disinterest are most frequently bred where there is a lack of learning, growth or active development. Success can only be guaranteed in a culture that fosters learning. So, it’s important to engage and retain employees with valuable programmes in relevant skills training.

In 2020, don’t just empower your company with tools and resources that they need to improve themselves, but also make them appealing. If you already have a programme, see if there are ways in which you can expand it further or make it more relevant to your team. The bonus? Invested employees and lower attrition.

Invest in self-care

Self-care is arguably the most under-rated leadership quality. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson says he finds kitesurfing therapeutic as well as a great way to stay in shape. In 2020, take inspiration from some of the world’s most successful leaders, by eating a life-enhancing diet and prioritizing regular exercise. Find yourself a physical and mental activity that enriches the quality of your life.

Sustainable leadership comes from the ability to take care of your own health. Whether it’s getting adequate sleep or taking up a sport to stay physically and mentally agile or taking a much-needed digital detox once a month in the coming New Year, new age leaders must lead by example. After all, a new age leader is someone who is versatile with his or her range of skills that go beyond official designations, hierarchies, geographies, and functions. It requires one to be at the front line of action to be able to foresee change, adapt and benefit from it.

In conclusion

We have kept the technology out on purpose. We know that new age leaders are tech-obsessed and that digital future promises to be the ultimate key for infinite scalability. However, we are looking beyond tech – because that gets updated regularly.

Happy New Year!

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

Business How To’s

11 December 2019

Why coworking is one of the best things that can happen to SMEs

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

When coworking spaces were first founded about a decade ago, the intent was to support independent workers within an organized set-up. However, over the years, this idea has progressed into a community space that encourages collaborative working for learning and growth.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are a crucial component of the economy, vital for its survival. And like a caped crusader to the rescue, coworking spaces have ensured an equal footing for SMEs in the face of competition from large businesses. Here are three important advantages that coworking spaces offer SMEs:

Scalability and agility

Coworking spaces facilitate quick changes in infrastructure scale to match business volatility. A majority of coworking spaces offer monthly rental plans rather than the long-term leases as offered by traditional office spaces. This monthly plan can be modified according to the performance of your business. You have the flexible option to upgrade or downgrade, i.e., increase or decrease the number of workstations you hire based on your needs.

Long-term leases are binding, cumbersome and not the ideal option for start-ups or SMEs. Without having to worry about such commitments, SMEs can focus on short-term rental expenses, on a month-to-month basis. When the monthly cash flow is not a fixed number, coworking spaces offer office space arrangements that can be adjusted as per your cash flow.

Hiring young talent

For most SMEs, hiring is a huge challenge given that they are not known brands, nor do they have the appeal of start-ups. However, coworking spaces help increase their accessibility, visibility and brand value for job aspirants.

The strategic location of most coworking spaces – often in Commercial Business Districts (CBDs) – help attract young talent who, typically, prefer the brand value of a big company or the exposure of a startup. That apart, coworking spaces with their cross-section of professionals also offer young job aspirants the opportunity to network. This unlocks the promise of endless possibilities for young professionals, who are inspired by the agile and collaborative environment at coworking spaces.

Cost-effectiveness

In an age where renting out furniture, household appliances and even clothes is commonplace, no one wants to pay through their noses for amenities. As far as coworking spaces are concerned, the most value comes from the provision of access to the amenities. The easy functionality of coworking spaces eliminate the need for SMEs to make large capital investments in terms of rentals, housekeeping and the like.

Included into the cost of many coworking space are the advantages of refreshments like coffee, tea, snacks, and office supplies. Additionally, the rental also covers use of costlier items such as printers, online platforms, and other utilities, which need to be upgraded quite often owing to technology changes. Therefore, when it comes to expanding your business operations to other cities and markets, you can simply hire professionals that operate out of a coworking space. This is far easier on the pockets than setting up a new office in a traditional commercial space.

Conclusion

The evolving workplace, in the form of coworking spaces, aid in providing the right resources and infrastructure for SMEs that account for nearly 40% of India’s workforce. With their philosophy of collaborative learning and work that nurtures productivity and creativity, coworking spaces create the perfect environment for business growth.

When mid-sized enterprises choose coworking

Business How To’s

02 December 2019

When mid-sized enterprises choose coworking

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

The adage of ‘two heads being better than one’ is the fundamental principle upon which the idea of coworking was built. The wise proverb may have had its origins in the early 15th century, in the days of the glorious Renaissance where the ‘Bottega’ system existed. Bottega, which roughly translates to the workshop, was the hub of innovation under the watchful eyes of master artists who were at the center of things. Artisans and craftsmen hobnobbed with painters, sculptors, artists, architects, mathematicians, engineers, anatomists, and scientists. They brainstormed together, exchanging ideas and perspectives, devising new artistic forms and techniques. Bottegas, like today’s coworking spaces, were the innovative and collaborative community workplaces of the Renaissance.

The winning premise

Businesses, whether small, medium or big, have people at the helm of it. And often, people find that they can benefit their business through healthy discussions, brainstorming sessions, collaboration and networking opportunities. It is this knowledge that has fuelled the growth of coworking spaces. The environment of a coworking space is created to inspire innovation and more. This global movement of the modern-day workspace, which initially seemed lucrative only for entrepreneurs, has attracted medium and large-sized corporations too.

It was just a matter of time before it became apparent that the benefits of coworking extended towards medium-sized enterprises as well. With considerably more capital, medium-sized enterprises saved big on the flexible, ‘amenities-packed’ and substantially cheaper rentals of coworking spaces.

The unfailing process

Like the famous bottegas, the process of innovation is three-pronged — facilitating dialogue, converting ideas into action, and convergence of diverse verticals on a mutually-beneficial platform. In a coworking space, almost every conversation has the potential to help make new clients, or generate interesting business ideas. The opportunity to sound off your ideas, and express your creativity makes up only part of the picture. In order for innovation to be successful, the ability to collaborate is also crucial, and it is this quality that makes the coworking space a game-changer. This culture of openness, which is conducive for innovation, also guarantees an acceleration in development. This involves networking with resources that are both within and outside of your organization.

In organizations, where established corporate processes are already in place – like in most mid-sized enterprises – the key is to facilitate change by fostering a more open, receptive and creative method of operating your business. The benefits that coworking spaces offer are not simply those that are tangible.  Along with the numerous financial and infrastructural advantages, there are also a host of other less tangible perks. For instance, inspired workspaces for young professionals that nurtures and promotes out-of-the-box thinking, new work practices and a fertile ground for innovation.

The bottom line

The effectiveness of coworking is evident in its success. With a growth rate of 24% annually, by 2022, as estimated by the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, we can expect to see some 30,000 coworking spaces and more than five million coworking members around the world. In India too, the demand for coworking spaces has been increasing at an exceptional scale. Not only among start-ups, but also among medium-sized enterprises keen to capitalize on the innovation advantage of coworking. Just like the Bottegas of the Renaissance period.