Finding the common denomiator

by | Jul 11, 2018 | 0 comments

I was just doing some reading and research for a class I’m teaching today for CIEE in DCU on Entrepreneurs and what made them become entrepreneurs in the first place.  Now I’m not sure that someone really deliberately sets out to be an entrepreneur, nor would I suggest that someone who is an entrepreneur doesn’t set out to become one, but more that it is a mindset, a set of traits that when aligned with a common denominator sets off a chain of events that leads them ending up as entrepreneurs. As in they have to be open to the idea and have the vision, tenacity and sure bloody-mindedness to carry it through to fruition.

Looking at a number of well known and not so well known ones, from Eoin Musk, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, all the usual suspects and one thing that struck me was that they all worked in teams, not solo but in teams – nearly everyone was a co-founder. This just shows that no matter who you are, not even one of the ‘superhero’ entrepreneurs you can’t do it all on your own. Even then if one becomes the face and others fall by the wayside no one was an island.

Other common traits that become obvious the more you look were that they all wee trying to solve very real but very ‘small’ problems. It didn’t matter if that problem was in a specific industry or a more general public problem they were all Not trying to solve 5 or 10 problems but 1. Far too often we try to solve the BIG problem which encompasses so many small problems that we get lost or the idea gets lost in translation.  It is really best to concentrate on the one small idea, the idea that would eventually lead to the BIG idea but the one that is not it at the moment.  Think of YouTube, the problem that ‘folklore’ suggests was that one of the co-founders was at a wedding and wanted up upload video from the Wedding but couldn’t as there was no easy way to to it, or another piece of ‘folklore’ suggests it was in relation to the Tsunami in Indonesia and that there must have been numerous pieces of video that could be shared but again there was no platform available to share it.  The problem is simple, a place to upload and watch user created content (the hurdles to get there are big enough granting you that, but the problem is simple). They weren’t trying to build a platform that could do this that and the other but a site to solve a simple problem. As the old adage goes, Keep It Simple, Stupid! (KISS)

By doing this it meant that they had to opportunity to pivot, to modify to change.  They also didn’t have the perfect solution when they went to market but a very lean model that could be modified quickly and often.

So if we look at ourselves can we see these common traits in us?  Today’s task it to take a piece of paper, fold it in half down the middle.  On the left side put the traits that you already have – label them good traits or bad traits.  Now on the right hand side list the traits that you don’t have, the ones that you need to be a success.  Label these by looking at whether you can (or want) to have that trait or if someone else in your team needs to have that trait.

Next if you already have a team, get everyone else in the team to write out their own traits and the ones they are lacking.  Combine them on a big sheet based against the traits that you think an entrepreneur should have.  Do you have a complete set or are there gaps and if so how can you fill those gaps.  Because the traits that all of the ‘superhero’ entrepreneurs have (and their teams) are ones that we could all learn from.

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Ian Oliver

Ian Oliver

Head of Artistic & Creative Entrepreneurship

Think.Act.Measure

Building change for Sustainable Creative Careers

Ian has over 15 years’ senior management and entrepreneurial experience in the Arts, creative and technology Sectors and 4 years’ experience working with Local Government, Local Enterprise Offices, Local Arts Offices, Arts Organisations and Venues, Universities, Businesses and Community Groups throughout Ireland, auditing and engaging the artistic and creative community within specific geographic regions.

Currently Ian is working on advising and designing sustainable projects that utilise art and creativity as the main driver to effect sustainable economic and social change.  He also teaches and mentors artistic and creative entrepreneurship training to adult learners and undergraduate students.

Ian’s experience includes developing and implementing business / career / marketing strategies, marketing, business development, digital media, digital content creation, communications, project management, developing business, marketing and digital media strategies and implementation, project development, management and budgeting, resource management, team development and cohesion, training and training distribution methods for clients, staff and stakeholders.

Ian regularly gives papers on Artistic & Creative Entrepreneurship including:

  • What is Creative Entrepreneurship, Trans National Creative Exchange, Solent University Southampton, October 2015;
  • The Role of Entrepreneurship in the Arts, Developing Talent and Opportunities, Slovak Government as part of their EU Presidency, Bratislava, September 2016;
  • Entrepreneurship Training in the Arts, 20th Anniversary Conference, University of Pécs, Hungary, November 2016;
  • Developing a Creative Model Canvas, 3E Conference, Cork, May 2017.

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