Small Business

Entrepreneurs Need a Dose of Cockiness


Also: Freshening e-mail templates, how the classics relate to entrepreneurship, new information-based business models, and more

The Importance of Attitude

Yes, entrepreneurs need to network, but don’t ignore the importance of cockiness. So argue three researchers, from Drexel University, Penn State University, and Northeastern University, in answer to this question: "What differentiates the well-connected entrepreneur from the well-connected non-entrepreneur?" They maintain, based on anecdotal observation and research, that "it is not enough to be 'well connected.' Individuals with higher levels of overconfidence and lower levels of risk perception are more prone to start new ventures…. Having a network of people and resources to rely on augments overconfidence and new venture creation. Many new ventures might not be started were it not for the confidence and optimism of the entrepreneur. Click here to read the report.

It May Be Time to Rotate Your E-mail Template

Seth Godin, a marketing author (see BusinessWeek.com, 4/18/06, "Vetting Your Idea"), suggests entrepreneurs take a page from farmers, who understand "that rotating crops helps the soil recover and increases yield."

His advice: "If you're sending e-mails regularly, don't send the same thing. Don't send the same format, don't send the same offer. Don't ask for the same response. Rotating your offers and your interactions maintains interest, surprise, and makes your core offers more appealing." For more, see Godin's blog.

Where Entrepreneurship Connects to the Classics

Elliot McGucken, a professor of entrepreneurship at Pepperdine University, bemoans that "a lot of schools have dismissed the idea of teaching the great books." In a recent lecture at Pepperdine, McGucken points out that that one lesson of the classics is, "Chance favors the prepared mind…. Instead of viewing risk as a bad thing, we can also view it as a good thing."

The classics inspired America's Declaration of Independence, which McGucken sees as an entrepreneurial document. Life has a way of "calling us to adventure," he concludes. Though many entrepreneurs launch businesses based on some "whimsical occurrence," it's their educational and life backgrounds that enable them to recognize the opportunity. Thus, John Bogle was able to found Vanguard based on a business-magazine article, while actually pursuing a "higher ideal" associated with making stock ownership available to large numbers of people. See this blog for more information and a related video.

A New Model for Information-Based Entrepreneurs

Fred Wilson, managing partner of Union Square Ventures, argues in a recent presentation that because the technical cost associated with producing information is nearing zero, and copyrights and other protections are more difficult to maintain, "advertising business models are ascendant." One approach he suggests: "Give away the baseline product for free…monetize [it] with advertising…upsell a premium product with a subscription model." Click here to read the full presentation.

If You Think U.S.-Based Startups Have It Tough…

Tarantulas, stray dogs, and construction workers who have to build their own ladders are just a few of the surprises awaiting an American couple establishing a small language training and tourism business. Umi and Sylvie Howard, formerly of Philadelphia, chronicle their experiences launching Solidarity Travels at ecuadorstories.blogspot.com.

David E. Gumpert covers business/health issues and also writes the biweekly What Entrepreneurs Need to Know column.

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