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Craig Wortmann on Being an Entrepreneur
Virtually anyone can be an entrepreneur, although starting one’s own business is a giant leap. Many people look at becoming an entrepreneur as a cause and effect – the academic term being “causal logic”. That may not be the optimal way to view entrepreneurship, however. Rather, the world’s most successful entrepreneurs use effectual logic. According to Craig Wortmann, Clinical Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, “It goes like this: I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve got this idea, I’ve got this limited set of resources and I’m just going to begin, and I’m not exactly sure what the effect will be.” Wortmann has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurial sales and marketing strategy experience.
According to Wortmann, this is a powerful way to think about entrepreneurship because the concept has such an underlying vibe of optimism. This notion of entrepreneurship is just start the business, anyone can do it. They are all personality types; they don’t have to be deep in domain knowledge. Anyone can start a business. The research suggests that as long as people are not rigid about reaching a certain outcome, they will be successful.
Wortmann asks budding entrepreneurs to think about the idea they have and ask what is the relative value to the idea. He believes that many people get stuck as entrepreneurs because they say “I can’t be an entrepreneur because I don’t have the next Google. I’m not waking up in the middle of the night with the next idea for Facebook.” Any idea that will change the focus of people or get them to do something better or a bit different – you have a potential business.
Would-be entrepreneurs need to begin taking action. They need to talk to potential customers and partners, and start to formulate a product or service to offer to people. Chances are the fledgling entrepreneur will be rejected; there is no question about that. But if they keep embracing that chaos and making contact with the market, things will begin to take shape. They need to get out there and realize that they are the structure and the process.
The challenge for entrepreneurs can be maintaining momentum. If it’s the product, stay close to the product. If it’s the people, get out into the market, meet people and maintain energy. According to Wortmann, “One of the things I like to talk to students about: is shutting down a business failure? It is in a way, but we’re all on a journey and that’s just a chapter. In a microcosm, it is a failure. But is it really a failure if you take those lessons and start something new or go back to a big company and leverage all those things you learned? That looks like success to me.”
To listen to Craig Wortmann’s full interview on entrepreneurship, click here.