Effective Venturing: Developing An Entrepreneurial Mindset
The word entrepreneur is a portmanteau of two French words, “entre” which means between, and “preneur”, which means to take. Entrepreneur in a literal sense means to “take from between.” In essence the word itself describes the core of the entrepreneurial mindset. Gaps in every market (the “between”) can be captured (“taken”) by offering a solution (business venture) that addresses a customer’s unmet need.
Developing the Mindset: View the World as a Series of Problems that need to be Solved
Entrepreneurs view the world differently. Aspiring business owners need to learn how to develop this unique sensory perception of the world around them. At its core, the unique view of the world can be simplified as “seeing the world around them as a set of problems awaiting a solution.” This is not to say that people who want to start a new business are pessimists — quite the opposite. Seeing the world as “problems” is another way of saying they see the “opportunity” in everything. An entrepreneur asks themselves one simple question: “How can we do (X) better?” One question kicks off a cascade of thought that at once focuses the entrepreneur on solving a problem, and having that solution become a business venture concept.
Designing Solutions to Problems
The venturing solution design consists of 4 distinct steps:
- Inception — defining the opportunity (seeing a problem)
- Ideation — designing a solution (developing a venture concept)
- Implementation — developing a strategy (making the concept a reality)
- Inspiration — defining the value (giving the venture meaning for customers)
Brainstorming ideas is critical for evolving and developing an optimized solution.
Brainstorming to Optimize Solutions
- Brainstorm your first list of ideas for addressing an opportunity — then work to improve them.
- Evolve each idea and then brainstorm new and related ideas to expand your list further.
- Repeat until at least 100 ideas have been generated. The more ideas the higher the probability of distinguishing a unique breakthrough solution.
Team RWB: Transforming a Unique Solution Into A Venture
Mike Erwin, founder of Team RWB, never envisioned himself as a social entrepreneur or activist. Yet in 2012, he found himself serving as the CEO of an organization with 15,000 members and 34 chapters.
While Erwin was a leader in the US Army, his primary experience had been in a large, structured military organization, which meant he did not have any big decisions to make on his own without consulting the officers he reported to above him. In high school, he had been an athlete and student leader. That continued in college when Erwin gained a nomination and enrolled at the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. West Point does not offer any instruction on entrepreneurship.
The growth of Team Red White and Blue had none of the characteristics of his earlier experience in the military. The non-profit organization has a simple mission to hep improve veteran well-being.
Team RWB’s mission is “to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.”
The organization’s mission caught on and Team RWB attracted media attention that far outpaced its size. With the newfound media acclaim, other local leaders joined in to form new chapters and Fortune 500 companies kicked in support money. Despite being resource constrained and having no paid employees, the organization grew quickly. Without any intention to do so, Erwin accidentally became an entrepreneur.