How Entrepreneurship is Changing the Future of Businesses
My name is Joseph Elandary, and I am a Business Development Intern at JBKnowledge, Inc. As a senior Finance and Entrepreneurship Major at Texas A&M University, I am involved in Startup Aggieland, 3 Day Startup and privately tutor undergraduate students in Managerial Accounting.
JBKnowledge, Inc. is a relatively young technology company. After being founded in 2001, the company has grown at an astounding rate, accumulating multiple accolades like the Aggie 100 and LSU 100 for their success.
What drives a startup company to succeed? Taking constant risks? Stubborness? Determination? Creativity? As a Finance Major with a certificate in Entrepreneurship at Texas A&M University and a trep (short for entrepreneur) in Startup Aggieland, I have had the pleasure of studying this extensively.
Most people see small businesses as a group of extremely innovative, risk-taking individuals who fear nothing and go against all the odds. Entrepreneurs are determined and stubborn, constantly forcing their ideas out there because they KNOW what they have is gold. A typical stigma is the man sitting in his garage until 2am every day working on the next “big thing”. While hard work and determination are facets of starting a business, entrepreneurs are actually risk-averse and constantly pivot their ideas and business processes to meet the needs of the market.
As a small business owner, especially if you are in the startup phase, you have limited resources. Every option you consider costs something. It is important, then, to identify risks immediately and determine which direction you want to head. Do I offer this product as a subscription or a one-time purchase? Which area do I target first? How do I reach my customers? The last thing you want to do is make a mistake and waste resources. There are multiple ways entrepreneurs solve these issues – customer interviews, stage-gate processes, and in-depth industry and market research. These help “treps” select the least-risky route.
This is where pivots come in. Customer interviews don’t just show you what you shouldn’t do, they show you which direction to head. If a customer tells you they like everything in your shower head except for the fact that it turns their water green, you wouldn’t very well ignore them. Or, if your customers told you that they never use Facebook or Twitter but constantly read a local magazine, you wouldn’t dump money and man hours into social media marketing. You would place ads in and get interviews with that magazine. Pivots to your products and business processes are key to an entrepreneur’s success.
Another misconception is that entrepreneurship is solely found in startup companies. Large organizations, though, constantly utilize these methods to cut down on inefficiencies and increase profits. A great example of this is Brinker International’s decision to add Ziosk’s to Chili’s Bar and Grills across the United States. The Ziosk is a small mini computer that lets customers order deserts and refills on drinks, play games, and even split and pay their checks. The decision for these additions was sprung from customer surveys that Brinker International conducted at the end of customer’s meals – a form of customer interviews.
Brinker looked at the concerns of their customers (through the surveys) and employees (through internal studies and interviews), and purchased this system. Now, servers have more time to tend to patrons, customers can order deserts and reorder drinks without having to wait for service, children can play games on the tablets, and Brinker even added a new customer survey at the end of the payment process so they can continue to make changes like this in the future.
As you can see, entrepreneurship isn’t just Steve Jobs making Apple computers in his garage. Entrepreneurship can be found at all levels of business and for any type of service or product. This “lean” paradigm of entrepreneurship is changing the way companies interact with their customers, and is shaping the focus of businesses in the future.