By Bradley Fitchew
It was David Cameron who stated a couple of weeks ago that entrepreneurs are the key to bringing us out of the recession and yet according to a recent poll by YouGov just 4% of us are intending to set-up in business within the next year. The poll suggests many are struggling for ideas and blame a lack of support for their lack of success in "entrepreneurship".
It seems to me that many of us are lacking vision -
My own definition is "the ability to generate ideas of the future, additionally recognizing the future resources required to realize them".
Vision Pt.1: How do I have a "good" idea?
I agree generating a "good" idea can be difficult, but paradoxically the more one concentrates on this the less likely you are to find it. I learnt this lesson last year when I organised a creativity workshop for members of my university enterprise society. I spoke with the expert after the event - randomly - he interrupted me asking whether I enjoyed Golf. After responding "No" he followed with another question to me. "If you were to pick up Golf Club now then, would you expect to shoot a hole in one?" Having only played Golf a handful of times in my life I joked "Well, only if I'm lucky!" This was exactly the expert's point that he had tried to make in the workshop. Pro-Golfers are NOT born to pick up a golf club and shoot a hole-in-one, it takes practice. Similarly as entrepreneurs we must practice having ideas (both good and bad) before we create those truly brilliant ideas. In focusing too much on having just a single "good" idea we are restricting our ability to generate ideas in general. Now I focus on having ideas rather than struggling to instantaneously push out lonely individual ones. Ideas spawn ideas and in knowing that I'm constantly training my mind to become ever more creative when it comes to ideas generation.
Vision Pt.2: It's not all about ideas!
If you had given 100,000 people the idea for Twitter in late 2006 or perhaps the recipe for innocent smoothies in the early 2000's, how many of those people would you have bet turned that idea into what those companies have become today? Probably less than the number of wives of henry.
Everyone takes a different approach to a task, the same is true of ideas implementation. In this case some people would have perhaps become even more successful than those companies of today, yet many more would have been unsuccessful in their attempts and sadly most wouldn't have tried at all to implement these seemingly great ideas.
Vision is not just about having an idea, it's about realizing what's needed to achieve it.
I find myself with ideas from time to time yet most I don't implement. I often don't feel I have what's required to implement them the way I'd like. I wonder sometimes if I'm just wimping out of taking the plunge. I have certainly dipped my toes into ventures before, but now I'm looking for something bigger than anything I've done before, perhaps you can't predict whether an idea is "big", perhaps you can only try. I'm telling you these thoughts of mine thoughts because I think they're thoughts many of us have had. What I have believe is that vision is just as much about realizing what you may one day need as it is knowing what idea to pursue.
I must equip myself with the resources of any entrepreneur, in order to improve the way I implement ideas in future. I have identified what I believe is the single most important resource required by the entrepreneur: People
Despite what many people say being an entrepreneur is not a lonely journey. The tech industry us famous for famous Co-founders that journeyed the entrepreneurial path together; Bill Gates & Paul Allen, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, Mark Zuckerberg & the three other guys whose names we forget are just a few prime examples. Outside of the tech industry this is also true, you can be a lone founder of a company but none of the greats reached the peak of success without the help and support of others.
I recently started an internship with the Sandbox Network. They are an international network made up of outstanding talents between the ages 20 and 30 in fields spanning everything from science, the arts, entrepreneurship and politics to name a few. On a daily basis I'm fortunate enough to collaborate with these people, many have already started companies, gained global exposure and are innovating within their respective fields. I am building the most important thing that I believe an entrepreneur needs; a quality Contact Base.
A quality contact base will support my future efforts as an entrepreneur through; Knowledge (through lessons already learned and experience already gained by my contacts), Capital (provided personally or via contacts in Banking/VC), Inspiration (through the ideas contacts are pursuing themselves).
The point is that whatever you dream to do after university and/or in life generally, be sure to surround yourself with the people who have done it already. For people of my age it is important to remember that people are often most creative in the early part of their lives, creativity seems to die with time as we become set in our ways and original ideas are less common. Ironically we so often require the experience of time to implement our ideas. Vision is just as much as about recognizing the future resources required to realize our ideas as it is about having ideas. Mark Twain told us to "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great" I am positioning myself in this way in order to facilitate an environment that will one day support my efforts as an entrepreneur. I hope you would agree it's a worthwhile strategy.
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