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Tom Peters, in Thriving on Chaos states: "Every variable is up for grabs Today, loving change, tumult, even chaos is a prerequisite for survival, let alone successes". Peters argues that organizations must be structured for change, not stability. That managers must take greater risks, get better at seeing the whole picture, listen, listen, listen, trust people to innovate and insist on absolute integrity.
So what prevents people from taking risks? In short the answer is FEAR. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of conflict, fear of uncertainty, fear of losing control, power or status. Risk aversion may be one of the most vexing problems you face in attempting to promote rural entrepreneurship.
There are strategies that can be used to encourage greater risk taking particularly by addressing people's fears. Other strategies can also be used to help limit real risk, with franchising pre-eminent among them. In the U. There are currently more than franchisers in more than seventy industries. Franchising is increasingly viewed as a middle ground for those who want to start a business, but also want the security of attachment to a business already established in the market place and providing detailed operating procedures to follow. There is an old Chinese curse that says, "May you live in interesting times".
Interesting times are the curse and the blessing of an entrepreneurial firm and it is the true entrepreneur who can handle the sources of uncertainty that come with the territory without falling apart. He or she must be able to lead, manage, identify, prioritise, execute and most importantly, make decisions. An entrepreneur must be more like a bamboo plant able to sway in any wind without breaking versus a rigid tree that can easily be toppled by a sudden storm. There are no magic formulas or tried and true approaches that are guaranteed to work. Most experts agree that not everyone is suited for the entrepreneurial task, but nearly all successful entrepreneurs:.
Entrepreneurs must also expect to put in long hours more like five to nine, rather than nine to five and be patient with the complex, diverse task at hand.
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- Entrepreneurship, Regional Development and Culture!
- Entrepreneurship, Regional Development and Culture : An Institutional Perspective!
- Routledge Studies in Entrepreneurship;
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Determination and discipline to see the job through separate entrepreneurial successes from failures. I mentioned Honda's lifetime dedication to implementing his boyhood dream. It took Noah Webster thirty-six years to develop his dictionary. Cyrus Field endured nearly thirteen years of toil and thity ocean voyages before successfully laying the Atlantic cable. Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald's hamburger chain, had the discipline to automate every step of the preparation process for his burgers and fries. Making decisions is a criterion for success. In my experience, a person who cannot reach a decision promptly once he has all the necessary information, cannot be depended upon to carry through on decisions made.
There is often a linkage between deciding and acting to carry through. Not making a decision can be a bad decision. Dwight Eisenhower had a difficult time deciding on the best moment for the D Day attack. Finally he is quoted as saying, "No matter what the weather looks like, we have to go ahead now. Waiting any longer could be even more dangerous. So let's move it". The point here is that people who can judge when a decision needs to be made and make it are far more likely to succeed in entrepreneurial ventures.
The other trick is deciding not on the basis of the past or present, but making the right decision for future, as yet unknown, circumstances. To recap then, I have tried to review some of the most basic characteristics noted in the lives of successful entrepreneurs:. In encouraging entrepreneurship in rural areas, seeking leadership with these characteristics is essential.
While training can help people improve in some of these areas, we should not be naive about what adult training can or cannot accomplish. A more long-range but perhaps more promising educational approach is to encourage development of these entrepreneurial characteristics in young people.
Putting in place local opportunities, before young people seek 'better' possibilities in cities and towns, could change the future of some of these areas. When I look at our rural development efforts in the U. I think we have done a lot for general process type community development that has not resulted in a real economic pay-off. There are, of course, national policy and financing barriers that have also played a role. However, I do believe that more targeted and focused programmes directed toward real entrepreneurship could become a more viable possibility today, particularly with new communication technologies.
We do know if the situation could be different. Let me use a case example from my home state of North Dakota. They did a modest business in servicing computers. Ortner, 42 years, got into the robotics business after he bought a robotic arm for an incapacitated friend that did not work properly. He redesigned its electronics. His work so impressed the company that sold the arms that eventually Ortner took over assembly of the firm's robots. When the company went out of business, Ortner stepped in putting together an assembly line in his mother's Fargo home.
Entrepreneurship and Regional Development
Bowman industries produces an innovative type of water filter and provides jobs for twelve people. Bowman got into the business, making a rapid transition from farming to manufacturing, after an investor friend of his who holds the patent on the filter decided to bring the manufacturing to Kennedy. In Wisconsin, the Rural Economy Development Programme is another example of a programme designed to target promising entrepreneurial ventures assisting with loans and grants for feasibility studies, market research and other business services. Some of the recent awards went to rural businesses offering recycling services and containers; marketing compressed alfalfa products; selling cut flowers; manufacturing organic yoghurt; restoring native plants; distributing wholesale pizza products; maintaining and repairing micro-electronic equipment; producing neon signs and display items for retail and service industries; growing and marketing shiitake and oyster mushrooms; and manufacturing a new type of energy-efficient horticultural lighting developed jointly with the University of Wisconsin.
In Kansas, the Co-operative Extension staff are working to bring venture capital investments to rural areas in manufacturing, wholesaling and distribution operations.
An Institutional Perspective
Within the U. Department of Agriculture USDA , we are implementing a Presidential initiative in rural development and co-operating in the establishment of a new Rural Development Administration.
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It is too early to know the full scope of funding and operations. We anticipate, however, that the Co-operative Extension System will continue to have a major role in providing information and education to rural entrepreneurs and that our staff may play a broker role in assisting rural-based businesses to link with appropriate public and private sources of financing and strategic planning. We also have a national initiative in U. International Marketing that is assisting rural communities to better understand the global market place and begin to use computer intelligence from the U.
In July, at the request of our Users Advisory Board, we undertook a full scale review of the activities and accomplishments of these centres. The review panel recommended that each of these centres needed a strategic plan and that they should broaden their vision but sharpen their focus.
The panel recommended improved scanning of the regional environment to accomplish the broader vision and improve the priority setting mechanisms to assure that resources are targeted to the points most likely to make a difference. The panel also said that the centres needed a broader base, more links to their constituencies, the universities and other Federal Government entities. They encouraged expanding the governing boards to get closer to the customer, the stakeholders and the formation of new alliances and partnerships with organizations such as community colleges.
Entrepreneurship and Embeddedness
Finally, we think that the entire Co-operative Extension System can strengthen its entrepreneurial efforts in rural areas by linking with others. We are forming a new strategic relationship with the National Association of Counties in the area of Aging Population and Aging Infrastructure. We will be using satellite communication technology, as well as traditional educational delivery methods, to engage local planning groups in coping with these two important areas.
In conclusion, let me just say that finding, encouraging and motivating entrepreneurs in rural areas is not an easy proposition. However, to the real entrepreneur looking on the dark side of the situation is fatal. Optimism is the heart and soul of the entrepreneur. While strategic planning, feasibility and market studies and analysis are necessary parts of new business start-ups, very few real entrepreneurs, the famous and not so famous, waited for a printout to see whether they should launch their new idea.
I know that we in the U. Co-operative Extension System are going to have to change some of the ways we currently do business to be really useful to rural-based entrepreneurship. We are going to have to be more entrepreneurial ourselves. I have been asking our rural development staff some tough questions about what we are doing, because I think the environment has changed and we must change with it.
We cannot be like the frog. You can put a frog in a pot of hot water and that frog will not notice the temperature rise. I think we must all guard against this tendency, we cannot ignore the changes occurring in our environment. If we do, we shall wake up and find out that we have been boiled. Let me end with a story of a rural entrepreneur from another part of the world, Victor Chumak. In a little more than two years, Chumak, described as a bull-like man whose flair for work is surpassed only by his remarkable command of Russian profanity, has pulled together a virtual agricultural empire.
He has acres, 1 00 head of cattle, twelve tractors, two harvesters and three trucks. He has taken on four young families as partners and built a house for each of them. His achievement and maniacal dedication shatter the stereotype of Soviet passivity. This is a man who made eighty trips to Moscow to beg, plead and badger government ministries for equipment.
Just three years ago there were fewer than private farmers in the USSR. Now there are more than 50 Let me end with a quotation from Chumak: "I have this dream and I want to see it come true. And I will not give up. To achieve a goal you have got to be a gambler, you have got to be certain you can do it.
As soon as you start hesitating, doubting yourself, you'd better just give up.