The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 4 – Do You Have the Right Brand?

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 4 – Do You Have the Right Brand?

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 4 – Do You Have the Right Brand?

Wednesday, August 25, 2021, by Dr. Frederick Crane

Entrepreneurial Journey Part 4

I have argued for more than 20 years that building and sustaining a powerful entrepreneurial brand is critical if a venture is to survive, grow, and endure in a complex and competitive marketplace. Moreover, a new venture has a relatively short time frame in which to establish its brand. If it misses this critical window of opportunity, it is very likely to fail. Entrepreneurs must focus on creating brands that clearly communicate the value desired by the customer as well as reinforce the intended position the entrepreneurial firm wishes to occupy in the market. Importantly, the brand must be consistent and sustained over time.

 

One of the most basic definitions of a brand is that it is something of “value” for both the customer and the company.  At a practical level, a brand embodies your offer of value—your promise—to the customer. Ultimately, a brand is a blend of what you say it is, what others say it is, and how well you deliver on your promise—from the customer’s perspective. Finally, a brand is a powerful asset that must be carefully developed and managed. 

 

For you and your venture, the brand you select is important because it can set you apart and truly differentiate your venture (and its products/services) from your competitors. But branding brings other benefits to your venture. First, branding can be an integrative tool for the entire venture. For example, the branding process, even the simple naming of your business, forces you to consider very carefully the core “value” you will create and deliver to your key customers. In addition, branding also helps you sharpen your business model (how you will make money and from whom you will make it). Second, branding increases the chances of acquiring your initial set of customers in the early stages of your venture. And, of course, branding will help solidify customer loyalty to your venture in the later stages. Third, branding can increase your access to suppliers and improve your chances of channel support. Fourth, branding can increase access to new venture capital. 

 

While a brand is extremely important to you and your venture, it might be argued that customers, in fact, may benefit most from branding. Recognizing competing products by distinctive branding allows customers to be more efficient shoppers. Consumers can recognize and avoid products with which they are dissatisfied while becoming loyal to other, more satisfying brands. Strong brands reduce customers’ perceived risk when purchasing and can increase their trust with the brand. Finally, strong brands also help the customer visualize and better understand the product or service.

 

A good brand will possess a number of important characteristics. Keep these characteristics in mind as you begin the branding process. For example, a good brand has the following qualities:

  1.  Effectively communicates the distinctive value you wish to offer the customer
  2.  Is “relevant” to the customer
  3.  Reinforces the company’s intended positioning in the marketplace
  4.  Is consistent and unifying
  5.  Is easily understood by your customers and your employees
  6.  Can be sustained over time

You should consider these characteristics as you begin to ponder your possible brand(s) for your venture. It is clear that brands lacking the above characteristics are likely to be weaker brands that may not survive in a crowded and competitive marketing environment. My advice: test your brand with your potential customers – find out what they think and how they feel about your brand concept.

Author

Frederick Crane serves as a Senior Project Manager for the International Council for Small Business (ICSB).

Dr. Crane is an Executive Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the College of Business at Northeastern University; Former Editor of the Journal of the Academy of Business Education; and co-founder of Ceilidh Insights LLC – an innovation management training, intellectual property consulting
and consumer insight company. He was formerly a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of New Hampshire and a Chair and Full professor at Dalhousie University.

At Northeastern, he developed the graduate new venture creation course; the undergraduate innovation course – which is now taught campus-wide; and developed the online MBA course on innovation and enterprise growth. He also serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club. Every semester at least one of his teams from his new venture creation course goes on to commercialize a business.

Citation of Article:

Crane, F. (2021, August 25). The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 4 – Do You Have the Right Brand?  The International Council for Small Business, Small Business Gazette. https://icsb.org/the-entrepreneurial-journey-part-4-do-you-have-the-right-brand/

Humane, Sustainable, and Harmonious Entrepreneurship: Shifting to a More Holistic Perspective of Entrepreneurship

Humane, Sustainable, and Harmonious Entrepreneurship: Shifting to a More Holistic Perspective of Entrepreneurship

Humane, Sustainable, and Harmonious Entrepreneurship: Shifting to a More Holistic Perspective of Entrepreneurship

Saturday, August 21, 2021, by Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

Entrepreneurship can be sorted into various sectors of disciplines, each impacting our lives and the world around us in different ways. Alone, each of these practices possesses the power to make long-term, positive change, both in the corporate world and in our communities. However, we must challenge ourselves to push humane entrepreneurship one step further. By integrating these practices and their ideologies, we gain the ability to improve our society in entirely new ways. Intersectionality is vital to humane entrepreneurship, as we cannot practice human-centered entrepreneurship without also taking action to protect our environment and human rights. While we work to combat global issues such as COVID-19, climate change, and inequity, entrepreneurs exist at the forefront of ensuring the health and wellbeing of our communities. By understanding the interconnectedness of these issues, we can adopt a more holistic view of entrepreneurship and actively improve the world with newfound strength in unity.

 

One of the main objectives of humane entrepreneurship is to produce engaged employees through High-Performance Work Systems (HPWS), which empowers and enables employees to embrace creativity and take innovative risks. Building upon this framework, Dr. Jeff Hornsby, Director of the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship Innovation, argues that integrating HPWS with Entrepreneurial Orientation (EO) can “generate human and social capital and produce an innovative workplace culture based on such elements as enablement, empowerment, equity, and empathy.” In addition, Human Resource Management (HRM) greatly impacts the human and social capital within a firm, which is the primary source of innovation in a humane company; therefore, HPWS, EO, and HRM combined ultimately build the foundation for a successful humane enterprise. The result is engaged employees working towards a better society for a company they believe in.

 

As the fundamental goal for humane entrepreneurship is prosperity for our companies and communities on a human level, we must also consider the state of the environment in which we are building these enterprises. Particularly in our post-pandemic society, we are now being afforded the unique opportunity to reconsider what kind of cities, jobs, and entrepreneurship we genuinely need. Sustainable entrepreneurship uses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 12 as a concrete guideline for tackling interconnected carbon emission footprints, gender equality, and quality education. To uphold these intentions, Professor Analia Pastran, founder and CEO of Smartly Social Entrepreneurship on the SDGs, asserts that we must boost sustainable options, create effective green agendas for the younger generations, and support legislation to provide entrepreneurs the legal framework to implement SDGs. Analyzing SDG 12 in this way, it becomes clear that humane and sustainable entrepreneurship are inherently connected and must work together to create a healthier society.

 

Considering entrepreneurship and the environment, we need to consider the effects of corporations and MSMEs alike on our planet and communities. Although entrepreneurship can be a strong tool for creating jobs, wealth, and innovation, it can also contribute to environmental pollution and unsafe work environments. The reason for this lies in leaders valuing profit over people and the planet, which points to the importance of educating entrepreneurs on the triple-bottom line. According to Professor David Kirby, co-founder of Harmonious Entrepreneurship Society (HES), “We were put on this planet to look after it. Therefore, we must take care of the human environment, as well as the physical environment.” From this standpoint of compassion, an evident means of protecting both people and the planet is converging economic, sustainable, humane, and social entrepreneurship underneath the umbrella of harmonious entrepreneurship, which is based on the understanding of the planet as one extensive system with many interconnected subsystems.

 

This intersectionality in entrepreneurship serves as the key for unlocking solutions to the universal issues facing us. By adopting a more holistic view of entrepreneurship, we conclude that no human issue stands alone. In solving problems like climate change and inequity, and advocating for human rights, integrating different entrepreneurial sectors allows us to stand together, stronger and more capable than ever before.

 

Watch the session below for more on humane entrepreneurship, SDGs, and the benefits of integrating different entrepreneurial approaches.

Alternative Investments and Pink Diamonds

Alternative Investments and Pink Diamonds

Alternative Investments and Pink Diamonds

Tuesday, August 17, 2021, by Dr. Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka, PhD

There has always been a great allure to owning diamonds among investors worldwide. Investments in precious stones and gems fall under the category of alternative investments and collectables with a high-risk factor. Argyle mine has been well-known for supplying natural-coloured diamonds, including white, champagne, cognac, blue, violet, and extremely rare and highly-priced Argyle pink and red diamonds.

 

The Argyle Diamond Mine was established in 1983 in the East Kimberley region in Western Australia. Argyle mine quickly took leading positions and was classified as the largest diamond producer based on the volume in the world. Last year, in November 2020, the Argyle mine announced its closure after 37 years of production and delivering a staggering 865 million carats of rough diamonds. This announcement has made a significant impact on the world diamond market due to the fact that Argyle mine was supplying up to 90% of all pink diamonds. Due to the drastic reduction in supply, the anticipated increase in prices is expected to affect the world diamond market. The 2021 Argyle Pink Diamonds Tender is set to present to the world a final collection of extraordinary diamonds, and all the closing bids must be submitted by the 1st of September 2021.

 

There are many layers of certifications that have to be done to assess the precious stones. The price of each stone depends on many factors such as cut, clarity, shape and colour. Typically, darker shades of pink, which are close to purple, are very rare and, as such, have a much higher value. Once you have decided to purchase precious stones from an auction house or dealer, you have the right to insist on independent assessment. Generally, it is common that two different evaluations of stones will provide different prices. Precious stones and gems trading is typically conducted in illiquid markets with quite high sales commissions. There is a drastic difference in the retail and wholesale gemstones prices and quality. It is essential to follow the strategy of buying at a low wholesale price and selling at a higher retail price.  

 

Trading in precious stones presents many challenges due to the lack of stringent taxonomy in the quality standards. For any new investor, it is difficult to distinguish between different types of diamonds and, as a result, they try to seek an expert opinion of value based on the quality of the stone. There are many cases when inexperienced investors become involved in a scam and end up losing their money. Thus, it is vital for any investor to understand, research, and educate yourself about the potential risks associated with precious stones investing choices. For investment portfolio diversification, it is essential to keep in mind not to overexpose their investment position to high-risk investments and keep it to a lower level. Always have proper insurance in place for precious stones and keep in mind that the long-term strategy of owning your investment position might not work to your advantage, should the supply of rare stones, such as pink diamonds, increase due to the findings of new pink diamonds deposits.

Author

Dr Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka is Global Certificates Manager at ICSB, a Higher Degree by Research Supervisor at Excelsia College and Adjunct Academic at the University of Technology  Sydney, Australia. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka held teaching and senior academic management positions in Central Asia (Kazakhstan) and Australia. She specialised in general investments, personal and corporate superannuation investments while working for Westpac Banking Corporation and BT Financial Group in Australia. She was invited to join The Housing Connection, a not-for-profit organisation in Sydney, Australia as Treasurer and Board Member from November 2019. Her research interests include entrepreneurial finance, traditional and alternative ways to finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs), corporate finance, policies for the small business sector, innovation and SMEs, FinTechs and Blockchain. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka is the Associate Editor for the Journal of the International Council for Small Business (JICSB). 

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 3 – Do You Have the Right Business Model?

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 3 – Do You Have the Right Business Model?

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 3 – Do You Have the Right Business Model?

Wednesday, August 4, 2021, by Dr. Frederick Crane

Even if you have the right venture opportunity (discussed in Part 2 of this series), without the right business model your venture is likely to fail. Once you have identified and screened your opportunity well, the next step is to determine how you will make money from this opportunity. This is where your business model decision comes in. In short, a business model is a framework for making money. It outlines the set of activities that the enterprise will perform, how it will perform them, and when it will perform them to create customer value and earn a profit. I have argued for many years that the right venture opportunity always requires the right business model. 

Your business model is central to the firm’s success. Thus, the right the business model should answer the following questions:

  1. How will the enterprise make money?
  2. How will the enterprise create value?
  3. For whom will the enterprise create value?
  4. What is the enterprise’s internal source of sustainable competitive advantage?
  5. How will the enterprise position itself in the marketplace?

Successful entrepreneurs also ask themselves the following questions with regard to the business model.

  1. Where is the money?
  2. Who has the money?
  3. How do I get the money?
  4. What do I need to provide to get the money?
  5. How do I get it faster than anyone else?
  6. How do I get it time and time again from the same customer?
  7. How can I add other revenue streams later?

A major component of your business model is your revenue model. There are several revenue model options for you to consider including: production model (manufacturing), subscription, licensing/royalty, and franchising. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you should examine which one makes sense to you given your specific opportunity and business context. Voice of consumer is very valuable in determining which revenue model is right for your given the customer you are seeking and how they wish to do business with you.

It is critical for you to target the right customers with the right business model. You must focus your efforts and determine which customers you wish to serve (target market/segment) and how much of each customer’s needs you want to serve. What is also very important for you to consider is not only creating recurring revenue but also obtaining incremental revenue. In fact, many customers can produce more than one source of revenue (e.g., buying a car and having it serviced). Moreover, some customers might wish to buy a product, but others might wish to lease, rent, or rent-to-own a product. An enterprise that only wishes to “sell” its product may be losing out on other potential lucrative revenue streams!

In summary, it is critical that you develop the right business model for your venture. In fact, without one, you are not very likely to attract venture financing. And, just like you would vet your opportunity with your potential customers, you also want feedback from those potential customers about your proposed business model. This input will help you determine how to best configure your venture to create value for your target market as well as select the best strategy for making money and sustaining the growth of your enterprise. 

Author

Frederick Crane serves as a Senior Project Manager for the International Council for Small Business (ICSB).

Dr. Crane is an Executive Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the College of Business at Northeastern University; Former Editor of the Journal of the Academy of Business Education; and co-founder of Ceilidh Insights LLC – an innovation management training, intellectual property consulting
and consumer insight company. He was formerly a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of New Hampshire and a Chair and Full professor at Dalhousie University.

At Northeastern, he developed the graduate new venture creation course; the undergraduate innovation course – which is now taught campus-wide; and developed the online MBA course on innovation and enterprise growth. He also serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club. Every semester at least one of his teams from his new venture creation course goes on to commercialize a business.

Citation of Article:

Crane, F. (2021, August 4). The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 3 – Do You Have the Right Business Model?  The International Council for Small Business, Small Business Gazette. https://icsb.org/the-entrepreneurial-journey-part-3-do-you-have-the-right-business-model/

Humane Entrepreneurship and MSMEs in a Dynamic World

Humane Entrepreneurship and MSMEs in a Dynamic World

Humane Entrepreneurship and MSMEs in a Dynamic World

Sunday, August 1, 2021, by Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

In championing people first, humane entrepreneurship inhabits a unique role in the business world as inherently human-centered. In light of the pandemic, the necessity of humane entrepreneurial practices has become more apparent than ever before. As we contended with COVID-19 head-on, many MSMEs saw governments responding swiftly in support. However, while we seek prosperity in our post-pandemic society, we must ask ourselves three essential questions: Will this government support continue? How can MSMEs recover in the aftermath of COVID-19? Finally, how can we actively support MSMEs, not only from a business standpoint but on a human level? With values of empathy, equity, and environmental protection, humane entrepreneurship provides the answers.

The journey towards humane entrepreneurship was initiated five years ago by Drs. Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB, and Ki-Chan Kim, Professor of Management at The Catholic University of Korea and former ICSB president. On the opening day of ICSB’s second annual Human Entrepreneurship Conference, Professor Kim presented research that examined how humane companies retain happier employees, customers, and environmentally healthy communities than traditional business models. These “Firms of Endearment” outperformed the overall market by a nine-to-one ratio over ten years in terms of profitability and performance. This is because companies that invest in human capital as the chief source of innovation create High-Performance Work Systems (HPWS). As a result, employees experience elevated levels of engagement and creative empowerment.

Humane entrepreneurship has a simple recipe, wherein each element activates the next: 1) empathy, 2) empowerment, 3) enablement, 4) proactiveness for an opportunity, 5) risk-taking, 6) innovativeness, and 7) performance. Professor Kim argues that the first element of a successful company is a CEO with a clear mission. When a CEO works not only for profit but also for a philosophical goal, they attract like-minded employees who feel inspired to strive for positive change. As stated by author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek, “Humane entrepreneurship is to hire people who believe what you believe.” This shared philosophy in improving society serves as the backbone of any successful enterprise.

Building upon this mission, the CEO must also be empathetic, positive, and considerate. When a CEO opens discussions, encourages involvement, and supports employees in their responsibilities, they create a culture where employees arrive at work engaged both physically and mentally, motivated to accomplish their communal goal. Essentially, integrating these pillars of humane entrepreneurship creates a HPWS that produces engaged employees who are enabled to take innovative, creative risks and achieve higher excellence. Creativity is the key to a successful company and is achieved with the humane entrepreneur’s superpower: empowerment.

Ultimately, we arrive at three factors for a successful company: 1) a visionary CEO, 2) empathy and 3) empowerment and enablement. When entrepreneurs manage their employees’ experience in light of their mission, they directly affect their sales and performance to achieve the best possible outcome for their company, employees, and community. In his presentation, Professor Kim posed this question: “What is an enterprise?” Citing Colin Mayer, the former dean of Said Business School at Oxford University, we understand that “the purpose of a business is not to produce profits” and that an enterprise is “the most productive place to solve problems on the planet.” In essence, a humane company is a place that challenges the corporate status quo, and a humane entrepreneur is a person who takes action to make their vision for a better world a reality.

To learn more about the humane entrepreneurship model, watch the session below.

Author

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy is the deputy chair and a teaching professor in the Department of Management at the George Washing University School of Business. His expertise involves entrepreneurship and the creative, innovative, and humane-focused practices existing within the field. Dr. El Tarabishy now sits as the President & CEO of the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), the oldest and largest non-profit organization across the globe devoted to advancing small business research and practices. The Council stands as a coalition of over a dozen national organizations, being represented in over eighty countries.

 

Dr. El Tarabishy is an award-winning author and teacher. In 2019, the George Washington University New Venture Competition awarded Dr. El Tarabishy the kind honor of being named the ‘Most Influential Faculty.’ Having developed the first Social Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Creativity courses offered to MBA and undergraduate students, El Tarabishy is constantly striving to find the perfect balance between tradition and modernization in his teaching pedagogy. Currently, Dr. El Tarabishy is the sole faculty member in the GW School of Business to teach in two nationally-ranked programs.

 

Environmental Sustainability and Global Finance

Environmental Sustainability and Global Finance

Environmental Sustainability and Global Finance

Tuesday, July 20, 2021, by Dr. Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka, PhD

Back in 1987, when United Nations introduced the definition of sustainability, it emphasised that sustainability is about responding to the needs of the present without undermining the ability of future generations to meet their own needs[1]. In the early 1990s, Triple Bottom Line (also known as People, Planet, Profit) was introduced by John Elkington. He advocated for business reporting, which provides information about the economic, environmental and social performance of business entities[2]. In September 2015, the General Assembly implemented the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) based on the principle of “leaving no one behind”[3]. This Agenda emphasised an all-inclusive approach to attaining sustainable development for all. According to OECD data, many countries are taking action, but progress is insufficient to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. The adoption of renewable energy is on the rise; nevertheless, it still represents 11% of energy supply and 27% of electricity production in the OECD[4].

 

The public disclosure of information about the social and environmental impacts of business operations has become widespread since the early 1990s, typically among large companies worldwide. The Global Reporting Initiative[5] (GRI) provides a conceptual framework and guidance for social and environmental reporting. The GRI Reporting Framework provides direction on reporting an organisation’s economic, ecological and social performance. It was created for application by businesses of any size, sector or location.

 

Climate and environmental impacts will be at the heart of global finance. Can profitability and sustainability co-exist? In answering this question, it is vital to emphasise that long-term profits will not matter if there is no planet. Overall, if we continue to underestimate the importance of environmental resources and our role in promoting sustainable behaviour, this could lead to highly detrimental outcomes for the planet. Thus, there is an immediate urgency for educating everyone concerning climate risk and their role in promoting sustainability.

 

We are already witnessing green start-ups that provide various tools that measure storm and flood risks and assess the level of pollutions created by businesses. In the financial services industries, many green FinTechs successfully combine finance and technology while promoting and embedding sustainable behaviour among customers. For instance, digital banks allow their customers to round-up their transactions to support tree planting, give cash-back for using climate-friendly business services or products, provide green loans for various solar energy projects and deliver a customised analysis of customers’ spending to emphasise their carbon emissions footprint and sustainable behaviour. Other FinTechs provide online app-based wooden credit cards with the portion of profits going to reforestation projects; introduce loyalty programs based on carbon points that can be converted into products and services with selected business partners that promote climate-friendly sustainable behaviour.

 

There is an onset of transformative generational wealth handover from baby boomers to millennials, with new business leaders becoming increasingly attentive to climate risks. Thus, they tend to choose sustainability in business operations. According to an EY study, millennial investors are almost twice as likely to invest in businesses or managed funds that target specific social or environmental goals, and 90% of them want sustainable investing as an option within their pension/superannuation plan[6]. Originally sustainable investing started in equities; however, over the years, government and private companies have been issuing various debt instruments to finance environmentally friendly projects.

 

There seems to be an assumption that carbon footprints and environmental impacts are mainly connected to large organisations. However, the MSMEs account for over 90% of all businesses worldwide. Thus, it is evident that MSMEs collectively are classified as significant polluters globally and there are increasing requirements for these enterprises to participate in and implement sustainable business practices. There is an urgency in educating entrepreneurs, MSME owner-managers and future business leaders in general, on how SDGs require changes to business finance, management and investment.

 

[1] United Nations Brundtland Commission, 1987

[2] www.hbr.org/2018/06/25-years-ago-i-coined-the-phrase-triple-bottom-line-heres-why-im-giving-up-on-it

[3] https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/envision2030.html

[4] https://www.oecd.org/environment/climate-data/

[5] https://www.globalreporting.org/

[6] www.ey.com/en_au/financial-services/why-sustainable-investing-matters

Author

Dr Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka is Global Certificates Manager at ICSB, a Higher Degree by Research Supervisor at Excelsia College and Adjunct Academic at the University of Technology  Sydney, Australia. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka held teaching and senior academic management positions in Central Asia (Kazakhstan) and Australia. She specialised in general investments, personal and corporate superannuation investments while working for Westpac Banking Corporation and BT Financial Group in Australia. She was invited to join The Housing Connection, a not-for-profit organisation in Sydney, Australia as Treasurer and Board Member from November 2019. Her research interests include entrepreneurial finance, traditional and alternative ways to finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs), corporate finance, policies for the small business sector, innovation and SMEs, FinTechs and Blockchain. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka is the Associate Editor for the Journal of the International Council for Small Business (JICSB). 

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 2 – Do You Have the Right Opportunity?

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 2 – Do You Have the Right Opportunity?

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 2 – Do You Have the Right Opportunity?

Tuesday, June 29, 2021, by Dr. Frederick Crane

The entrepreneurial highway is riddled with the fractured bones and broken dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs who failed to mine the right opportunity. Why? Because some opportunities are simply better than others. Ultimately, you need the right opportunity and exploit it effectively or you will not achieve entrepreneurial success. 

 

There are actually three views regarding entrepreneurial opportunities. That is, opportunities can be recognized, discovered, or created. With opportunity recognition, the entrepreneur recognizes (deduces) that supply and demand are known to exist. The entrepreneur simply matches up supply and demand through an existing firm or a new firm (e.g., a franchise). When the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, you didn’t have to be a genius to recognize that there was going to be demand for facemasks given government mandates to protect the population! So many entrepreneurs jumped on that opportunity to supply masks.

 

With opportunity discovery, the entrepreneur inductively determines that either supply or demand exists (not both), and the other side has to be discovered. For example, there is demand for cures for certain illnesses but no supply, and there was a supply of personal computers (when first invented), but demand had to be discovered. Again, with the COVID-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical firms rushed to be the first to supply vaccines given that there was and is plenty of pent-up demand for such. Finally, with opportunity creation, the process used by the entrepreneur is abductive (inference), and neither supply nor demand exists in any obvious manner, and one or both may have to be created (e.g., new social media platforms). This is the concept of market creation – real newness.

 

I suggest that the right opportunity should possess the following characteristics:

 

  1. It creates significant value for customers by solving a significant problem or filling a significant unmet need for which the customer is willing to pay a premium price.
  2. It offers significant profit potential to the entrepreneur and his or her investors—enough to meet their risk/reward expectations.
  3. It represents a good fit with the capabilities of the entrepreneur and the management team—that is, you have the experience and skills to pursue it.
  4. It offers sustainability over time.
  5. It can obtain financing.

Also, the right opportunity will have validation from the intended customer. In short, the true litmus test for the right opportunity is whether or not the customer thinks it is a good idea, finds it valuable and distinctive, and would be willing and able to pay for it. Therefore, voice of customer (VOC) plays a major role in determining whether or not you are mining the right opportunity. You might think you have the right opportunity, but it is confirmation from the customer that is most important. So, you cannot sit in your room crafting a business plan. You have to get out there, in the marketplace, immerse yourself with the intended customers – and listen! Then, you will know if it is the right opportunity. And, if is it then the hard stuff begins; constructing the right business model; crafting the right brand, and executing the right go-to-market strategy. These are opics we will cover in the next parts of the entrepreneurial journey.

Author

Frederick Crane serves as a Senior Project Manager for the International Council for Small Business (ICSB).

Dr. Crane is an Executive Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the College of Business at Northeastern University; Former Editor of the Journal of the Academy of Business Education; and co-founder of Ceilidh Insights LLC – an innovation management training, intellectual property consulting
and consumer insight company. He was formerly a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of New Hampshire and a Chair and Full professor at Dalhousie University.

At Northeastern, he developed the graduate new venture creation course; the undergraduate innovation course – which is now taught campus-wide; and developed the online MBA course on innovation and enterprise growth. He also serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club. Every semester at least one of his teams from his new venture creation course goes on to commercialize a business.

Crane, F. (2021, June 29). The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 2 –Do You Have the Right Opportunity?. The International Council for Small Business, Small Business Gazette. https://icsb.org/the-entrepreneurial-mindset/

Ethical Finance

Ethical Finance

Ethical Finance

Monday, June 21, 2021, by Dr. Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka, PhD

Climate changes have initiated many transitions and shifts across government and industry sectors to reduce the negative impact on the environment worldwide. With every new and existing business comes great responsibility for making climate-friendly decisions. To align with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, new and existing businesses in the financial services sector must foster better conditions for forming ethical finance behaviour. The starting point is to embed achievable sustainability targets into the business models and strategic plans and introduce quantifiable approaches for measuring the impact of financing on the environment. The transparency and accountability of sustainable behaviour are of paramount importance for all businesses. 

 

Over the past years, government and private companies are issuing various debt instruments to finance environmentally friendly projects. The beginning of the Sovereign Green Bonds’ era took place in 2016 when Poland issued the inaugural Green Sovereign Bond to reduce the reliance on coal and transition to the lower-carbon targets. France became the second country in the world that issued the sovereign green bond in 2017, with many other governments following the suit. China’s first batch of Green (carbon neutral) Bonds was issued in February 2021 with the aim to reduce carbon emissions.

 

The Blue Bond market was created in 2018 when Seychelles, with assistance from the World Bank, launched USD15 million blue bonds to develop the economy while preserving the marine areas. Blue bonds represent new financial instruments for funding marine projects aimed at ocean conservation. 

 

The Transition Bonds have also been growing in popularity and were originally introduced for industry sectors labelled as heavy polluters to start the transitioning process from brown to green status. Whereas Nature Bonds have a broader purpose and aimed at making sovereign debt connected with biodiversity and carbon neutrality to achieve net-zero emissions. With the World Bank’s assistance, Pakistan is planning to offer this year the very first Nature-performance Bond as part of the climate mitigating strategy and assist with recovering from the global pandemic.

 

The demand for climate-friendly and socially responsible investments is on the rise. The Social Bonds were created to assist vulnerable groups of society in improving their lives. The first Social Impact Bond (SIB) was introduced in the United Kingdom in 2010 to reduce recidivism. It was evident that after just a few years, there was an increase in the SIBs with the US, Australia, Canada and South Korea following an example and introducing the path for other governments to follow. Also, the introduction of the very first Wildlife Bonds by the World Bank this year is marking the beginning of funding projects aimed at protecting endangered species, such as rhinos in Africa. 

 

With the myriad emerging sustainable investment options, it is essential to understand the underlying projects, sustainability targets, risks and return. COVID-19 has contributed to a further increase in sustainability-link bond investments, allowing companies to establish business-wide targets and spend proceeds from funding on pre-determined projects. Companies promise to lower their carbon emissions and, if they do not meet these targets, they will have to compensate investors above promised return. At this stage, there are numerous terms in the financial markets worldwide that describe green investment options. Given the diversity of financial markets worldwide, it is essential to introduce taxonomy when classifying green projects. 

Author

Dr Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka is Global Certificates Manager at ICSB, a Higher Degree by Research Supervisor at Excelsia College and Adjunct Academic at the University of Technology  Sydney, Australia. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka held teaching and senior academic management positions in Central Asia (Kazakhstan) and Australia. She specialised in general investments, personal and corporate superannuation investments while working for Westpac Banking Corporation and BT Financial Group in Australia. She was invited to join The Housing Connection, a not-for-profit organisation in Sydney, Australia as Treasurer and Board Member from November 2019. Her research interests include entrepreneurial finance, traditional and alternative ways to finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs), corporate finance, policies for the small business sector, innovation and SMEs, FinTechs and Blockchain. Dr Yesseleva-Pionka is the Associate Editor for the Journal of the International Council for Small Business (JICSB). 

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 1 – Are You Ready – The Entrepreneurial Mindset

The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 1 – Are You Ready – The Entrepreneurial Mindset

The Entrepreneurial Journey

Part 1 – Are You Ready – The Entrepreneurial Mindset

Tuesday, June 1, 2021, by Dr. Frederick Crane

Many people aspire to be an entrepreneur. But most do not really know what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Before you embark on the entrepreneurial journey you will need to seriously reflect on whether or not the journey is right for you and whether or not you are ready for the journey. Many experts suggest there are distinctive personal characteristics that are required to be a successful entrepreneur. Some have described this as the “entrepreneurial mindset.” There has been an age old debate as to whether an entrepreneur is born or is made. My research shows it is a bit of both – the classic nature and nurture phenomena. One thing is for sure, the entrepreneur is different from the non-entrepreneur. Less than 10 percent of our population are entrepreneurs, so they make up a unique niche within the population. So, what makes them different? And, do you have what it takes to become part of this special group of people?

 

My research shows that successful entrepreneurs share several key personal attributes that are necessary for the entrepreneurial journey. What I want you to do now is to be honest with yourself and reflect on whether you possess these key attributes and/or would be willing to acquire them? These attributes are: (1) dispositional optimism – the most important attribute – (2) persistence, (3) resilience, (4) work ethic, and (5) adaptive.

 

Dispositional optimism is a mindset that focuses on abundance not scarcity; that good things can and will happen; that one can achieve his/her objectives; and the glass is half-full and not half-empty. All successful entrepreneurs I have studied are extremely optimistic in life and in business. And, I suggest it is the most important attribute an entrepreneur can possess. In fact, it is an antecedent as to why entrepreneurs are persistent, resilient and work so hard. They did so because they believe positive outcomes can be achieved. Why would an entrepreneur work 100 hours a week to start and to grow an enterprise if they thought they would fail? Well, they don’t believe they will fail. And, contrary to belief successful entrepreneurs do not throw caution to the wind, they do not take excessive risk and they do not adhere to the fate, chance, luck or magic model of business. Successful entrepreneurs engage in calculated risk-taking using information to recognize, discover or create new business opportunities. And, entrepreneurs are adaptive. They flex and pivot given evolving conditions and situations around them. Sometimes best laid plans have to change!

 

Before you start the entrepreneurial journey you are going to have to do a head, heart and gut check – an honest check. If you get positive confirmation from all three realms of your being, then you probably ready for the entrepreneurial journey. It will be difficult and challenging but, more importantly, very rewarding and satisfying. But, this is just the beginning of your journey! In the articles that follow this one I will discuss the importance of the right opportunity, the right business model, the right brand and the right go-to-market strategy. This are all key elements that must be mastered on your own entrepreneurial journey.

Author

Frederick Crane serves as a Senior Project Manager for the International Council for Small Business (ICSB).

 

Dr. Crane is an Executive Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the College of Business at Northeastern University; Former Editor of the Journal of the Academy of Business Education; and co-founder of Ceilidh Insights LLC – an innovation management training, intellectual property consulting and consumer insight company. He was formerly a professor of marketing and entrepreneurship at the University of New Hampshire and a Chair and Full professor at Dalhousie University.

 

At Northeastern, he developed the graduate new venture creation course; the undergraduate innovation course – which is now taught campus-wide; and developed the online MBA course on innovation and enterprise growth. He also serves as the Faculty Advisor for the Private Equity and Venture Capital Club. Every semester at least one of his teams from his new venture creation course goes on to commercialize a business.

Citation of Article:

Crane, F. (2021, June 1). The Entrepreneurial Journey Part 1 – Are You Ready – The Entrepreneurial Mindset. The International Council for Small Business, Small Business Gazette. https://icsb.org/the-entrepreneurial-mindset/