In all my spare time, about 15 minutes a day since I have a three year old and a six year old in the house, I try to keep learning about entrepreneurship. Having become an ardent believer in the value of entrepreneurship for rural areas of our nation, I want to keep looking for the elements and items that will help me in talking to students, to area business persons, and to residents in general so they also will get more interested and involved in promoting this process.
Some people I visit with have the notion that entrepreneurship is something that can only be learned by a business major at a business school, and that the entire focus is on business, i.e., making money. Now, the idea of making a profit is not a bad idea for entrepreneurship. However, it is important to remember that entrepreneurship is a process of thinking, exploring and analyzing…and the profit/loss factor is only one part in the process…and often comes later than sooner. The process of entrepreneurship does not seem to me to be foreign to rural America, or solely the province of business schools and business operations. The process involves the capability of multiple perspectives!
Several references on entrepreneurship identify common elements within the overall process of entrepreneurship. While many folks see a problem or issue, persons with an entrepreneurial perspective see potential opportunities…what many consider to be thinking outside the box. The next element in the entrepreneurial process is in creating ideas. Again, the non-entrepreneurial outlook often seeks the one right answer (the bane of traditional education!), while the entrepreneurial perspective looks at ideas and refines them to produce multiple options. The process then moves to aligning resources with options. Please notice there is not much work done yet related to profit…but the focus is on what will be needed to take advantage of an identified opportunity.
Entrepreneurship starts by looking for possibilities…and that is very applicable to rural communities. What is possible is an attitude of not being preoccupied with limitations, but examining the potential results if various actions are taken to meet opportunities (not problems). So, my advice? Practice the process of thinking outside the box! Like any other good habit you want to have, you have to put it into active practice so it will become the norm rather than the exception.
We can all think of examples of businesses in rural areas that seem to have the "touch” but closer examination will often reveal an entrepreneurial perspective from these business persons; they saw the opportunity that could be met and moved on it. So, broaden your perspective and don’t let barriers stop the "what if” thinking we need to do! Entrepreneurs don’t dream, but they do explore ideas and possibilities and recognize there is often more than just one right answer!