Here at Cornell, we’re often taught by professors and lecturers a generation or two removed from us. And by all means this is an obvious necessity—imagine what college life would be like without the structure and wisdom given to us by those with more experience and knowledge. Needless to say there is some value in learning from your peers. In fact, much of our informal learning comes from one on one interaction with our friends and student mentors. It is this kind of interaction that I would like to touch on today.
Last week I interviewed two student entrepreneurs here at Cornell and learned some interesting things from my time with them. The first student I interviewed was Joseph Duva, founder and President of theserviceauction.com. His company is an auction website where homeowners and licensed contractors connect through a real-time online biding process. While Joe made many interesting points, one point that stood out the most to me was his comment on the phenomena of translating an idea into a business. He stated that there are dozens of people with great ideas out there, but few who are willing to commit to the process of going from the idea to the implementation of the idea. Listen to the clip below to hear more from Duva:
The second interview I conducted was with Jonathan Santomauro. Jon is a great guy and something of a serial entrepreneur. Currently, he is the president of Global Procurement Strategies, Inc.—a tactical outsourcing firm that creates partnerships with major corporations to increase the efficiency of their procurement divisions. Jonathan is also the president of supplycabinet.com, a consumer office supplies and furniture company currently in development stages. The most important lesson I learned from Jon was that the attitude of an entrepreneur is absolutely critical. Especially when interacting with people, everything depends on interpersonal skills—skills which can only be developed over time or with the aid of a mentor, in Jon’s case his parents.
If you haven’t already done so, I would highly encourage you to take a look at these interviews as I’ve just scratched the surface all that we spoke of.
Today, I’d like to plunge into a discussion on the central theme of the eClips site: entrepreneurship. One of the podcasts on the eClips framework that immediately comes to mind is the podcast entitled Entrepreneurs: Born or Made?
I’ve always found it interesting to read various perspectives of entrepreneurship and how people define the word “entrepreneur”. To be honest, the term is hard to pin down; it seems to be surrounded by multiple meanings, which give it an almost mystical aura. Yet, ask almost anyone you meet and they will most likely have some kind of understanding of the word. Here in the U.S., the entrepreneurial spirit can be seen everywhere—from the local bakery to search engine giant Google. The ability to become an entrepreneur is a freedom Americans take much pride in. We all love the classic “rags to riches” tale and uphold the virtue of equality of opportunity. But what is the actual definition of the word?
The word “entrepreneur” can be traced back to the 13th century in which it first appeared in the form of the French word entreprende— which literally means: to undertake. Nowadays most economists and experts in the field agree upon some kind of variation of the following:
An entrepreneur is a person who habitually creates and innovates to build something of recognized value around perceived opportunities.
Nevertheless, entrepreneurs rarely have this definition in mind when they start up their businesses. In fact, there is a wide range of reasons why individuals choose to become entrepreneurs. Some entrepreneurs start up ventures for purely financial reasons hoping to “make it big.” Others do it because they like innovating and creating solutions to societal problems. Still others become entrepreneurs for the “coolness factor.” When asked by Forbes magazine how he likes being the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg responded, “I don’t care about being a CEO and I never really have. I don’t even care about running a company—I just want to build cool things.”
A great way to explore what people think about entrepreneurship is to check out the eClips themes on “Defining An Entrepreneur”:
Defining Entrepreneur As Being Your Own Boss
Defining Entrepreneur As Creative, Adaptable and Flexible
Defining Entrepreneur As Creator, Builder and Visionary
Defining Entrepreneur As One Who Takes Ownership and Control
Defining Entrepreneur As Opportunity Finder
Defining Entrepreneur As Passionate and Determined
Defining Entrepreneur As Risk Taker
Defining Entrepreneur As Set of Skills – Not A Career
Entrepreneurship is something that anyone can get involved with, but examining your goals, motives and ambitions is a task that each entrepreneur should do at some point. So what’s your definition of the entrepreneur? And why would you become one?