Monday, September 19, 2016

Is Your Entrepreneurial Clock Ticking? And Other Ways the Entrepreneur’s Mind Works…

I started my first business six years ago, after a decade of hobby experimentation and continually increasing requests from the local community. It’s a unique horse treat company, and we continue to sell about 400 dozen per month, with demand currently higher than supply.

I followed that with my next business, the tack shop – St. Croix Saddlery – and started offering new ancillary services, like horse blanket repair, consignment and custom saddle fitting, and now it seems I’m just hooked on this process of generating ideas and putting them into action.  

Lately I’ve felt an apparent “itch” to start something new. Like many entrepreneurial types, I already have more balls in the air than any sane person should, and yet I’ve got ideas popping into my head daily – everything from a new line of equestrian apparel to a school education program to an equine loss support group. And I think, what in the world is wrong with me??? If you’ve ever found yourself in this same state of mind, it turns out you might just be an entrepreneur.

Saras D. Sarasvathy of the Darden School of Business is one of the most celebrated scholars in the field of entrepreneurial cognitive behavior, and particularly with respect to the “cognitive basis for high-performance entrepreneurship” (as noted in her Darden bio). Her research revealed that entrepreneurs take a non-traditional approach to business development, which she labeled “effectual reasoning.”

In the more typical managerial “causal reasoning,” one identifies a goal (perhaps based on market research) and then works out a plan to achieve it. In contrast, people who employ effectual reasoning essentially envision a possible future that can be crafted by human action.  They then work with the people who are involved in such actions, create smaller contingent goals over time, and bring that future (or a new market) into existence. I think this might have been best paraphrased by Quora blogger, Peter Baskerville, who turned the old maxim “Ready, Aim, Fire!” into “Ready, Fire, Aim!” when it comes to entrepreneurs.

Many others have posited theories regarding differences in the entrepreneurial brain and outlook as well. These commonly involve themes of fearless risk-taking, effective ambiguous thinking, a view of obstacles as opportunities, and a recognition that entrepreneurship is a lifestyle rather than a 9:00 to 5:00 job. Others include a view that perfection can actually stall progress, a tendency to see and apply patterns in the world around them, and a general inability to turn their churning, curious, opportunistic minds “off.”

Based on my own recent urges and my experience advising other entrepreneurs in business, I would like to suggest that the continuous stream of thinking and idea-generation may ebb and flow slightly in direct correlation with the entrepreneur’s current involvement in a new business opportunity. That is, when one little business begins to live on its own, the entrepreneurial clock starts ticking again.  

Uh oh. Now I’ve reached the point in this article where I’d like to sum up and offer some brilliant words of advice. Usually I start a post with a great idea, and the rest comes as I write, finally ending the train of thought in a conclusive (maybe lucky) sort of way. Not this time. It’s true – this “ready, fire, aim” approach may not always work.  Darn.  It’s a good thing entrepreneurs are resilient and ever-optimistic! And hey, I did just get a great idea for my next post…. I just hope my readers (and my editors) have a good sense of humor in the meantime.



  2. Ha - I hope a lot of readers recognized themselves somewhere in here! Thank you for your comment!