The Refractive Thinker®: Vol XIII: Entrepreneurship: Growing the Future of Business
Foreword Vol XIII
I’m honored and a bit astonished to be writing the foreword for such a prestigious academic publication as The Refractive Thinker®. I’ll share a little secret. The bane of my existence is that I have no formal education; no college, no university, no alma mater. There are many things hanging on the wall in my office, but a college diploma isn’t one of them . . .
RT Vol XIII: Ch 1: Millennials: Disparity of Work Needs as an Entrepreneur
The Millennial generation, or Generation Y, is the generation of children born between 1977 and 1994; many are already entering college and the workforce. With the increasing retirement of Baby Boomers, Millennials already represent the largest generational cohort in the American workforce. Leaders are challenged with employment retention and motivation efforts as Millennials tend to have a limited long-term commitment to organizations of employment. Activities that are pleasurable or activities Millennials consider fun are significantly higher intrinsic motivators for Generation Y than for other generations. Refractive thinking of a Millennial entrepreneur is most evident in his or her ability to bounce back, transform an idea, and start again following a different thread. The workplace characteristics of Millennials appears to conflict with the actual traits of a successful entrepreneur. Millennial traits include having time to enjoy hobbies, believing in work-life balance, and preferring to work remotely. Disparity exists regarding how Millennials prefer to work regarding internal needs within the workplace and how this contradiction could adversely affect their success if Millennials become entrepreneurs. With the challenges of entrepreneurship – how will millennials fare as entrepreneurs?
RT Vol XIII Ch. 2: The Relationship Between Hardiness and Entrepreneurship
Thriving in the market is challenging, despite the rapid growth of entrepreneurial and small businesses. One major concern is the number of entrepreneurs and small business owners entering the market is equal to the number of businesses exiting the market. The general problem is the survival rate for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the market. Several factors may contribute to the survival rate challenge for business owners. External factors such as market research, product viability, demographics, and geographical locations may impact success. However, internal factors may also impact entrepreneurial and small business success. One internal factor is psychological hardiness. The term psychological hardiness refers to the following traits: commitment, challenge, and control. The qualitative portion of the study indicated that entrepreneurs and small business owners identified multiple psychological hardiness traits as contributing factors to their success. Business owners self-identified commitment, challenge, and control as the top three contributing factors to business success. The Dispositional Resilience Scale (DRS-15), a psychological hardiness assessment tool, determined business owner’s scores within each hardiness trait. The DRS-15 scores indicated the individual’s level of commitment, the ability to manage challenges, and the level of control the individual believed he or she possessed. One of the keys to surviving within the market is for business owners to: (a) understand how commitment, challenge, and control contributes to success, (b) identify areas for growth within each trait, and (c) focus on improving in the areas identified for growth.
RT Vol XIII Ch. 3: Everything to Everybody: What Does Your Business Do?
Entrepreneurs face the challenge of creating an identity for their company by the time it reaches maturity. This issue is seemingly easy to respond. Entrepreneurs always struggle responding to this challenge. The focus of this chapter was to address the many questions that face entrepreneurs. Their core competency is very narrow and straightforward to the point they never have to worry about their company's identity or their status in the market. Their service or product does not change and can last the test of time (Spady & Kweli, 2006). This concept is similar to a perfect competition scenario and highly unlikely. Therefore, companies must pay attention to their expanding capabilities while not confusing their customer base by moving away from their core competencies. In this paper, the topic to discuss is the challenges entrepreneurs face to maintain a corporate identity for their business. The challenges faced include increasing the company’s capabilities while not straying away from their core competency. Business owners also face the challenge of the company’s ability to adjust their corporate identity without damaging the company’s image and confusing customers while losing customer loyalty. This chapter examines how businesses can avoid common growth challenges that cause businesses to shut down. The goal of this chapter is to help less experienced entrepreneurs identify growth risks and use refractive thinking to effectively respond to changes to their business caused by the need to grow. This chapter is unique by recommending the use of a refractive approach to help in the reduction of failed small businesses due to poorly managed growth.
RT Vol XIII Ch. 4: Workplace Resilience Relevance for the Entrepreneur
Resilience research in the workplace may not be undiscovered territory, but certainly is a less frequent area of study. Historically, research on the topic of resilience included two particular areas of prevalence: (a) the experience of children who overcome hardship and (b) the recovery process for adults following a traumatic event. A broader application for the concept of resilience explores relevance in the workplace – specifically of note for the entrepreneur.
When resilience at work is most notable, the employee’s career spans many decades of success; despite, or possibly because of, their experience with challenge. Valuable lessons for the entrepreneur exist as they look to experience success within their career ventures, individually or as an employer. The path towards resilience in the workplace is particularly important in entrepreneurship as a foundation to the business world is the existence of change. The entrepreneur, either expanding on an existing business model, taking a workplace on a new path or, venturing into a revolutionary start-up, will likely experience change as both a constant and a challenge. A focused look at both the employing organization and the individual employee creates an opportunity for the examination of workplace resilience that will be useful to the entrepreneur looking to grow and succeed in their business venture in an ever-changing world.
RT Vol XIII Ch 5: Conquering the Myths of the Easy E-Entrepreneur
There are several myths why people select an e-business as oppose to a brick and mortar business: (a) creating a website is inexpensive, (b) attracting customers on social media is easy, (c) possessing a solid technical background simplifies the creating and maintaining of the e-business, (d) majority e-entrepreneurs are stay at home moms, and (e) Millennials think e-business solely. This chapter analyzed each myth to determine if what is assumed true is a misconception or fact. Understanding what myth is verifiable can be used as a strategy or skill needed to become a successful e-entrepreneur. Myths determined to be true included: starting an e-business can be an inexpensive option, technical knowledge is not a necessity, and Millennials are born to be e-entrepreneurs. New technologies, such as social media applications, do create a free marketing tool if used wisely and regularly. A myth considered a misconception is the stay at home mom could become a successful entrepreneur. The issues are women continue to struggle with inequality of pay and confidence. Making good business decisions and strategies based on what is true will create a better chance of e-business success and contribution to economic growth.
RT Vol XIII Ch. 6: Can Small Business Identify Unethical Business Behavior?
Unethical business behavior by information technology (IT) employees is a major concern for small business owners. In an effort to address this area of concern and to find a solution to this growing problem, business managers struggle with the metrics to identify unethical behavior in IT employees. Seventy IT personnel within the Maryland metropolitan area who work for businesses with Department of Defense (DOD) contracts completed the Defining Issues Test (DIT) and the Ethical IT survey. Multiple regression analysis with Pearson’s r assisted with examining the relationship between ethics training (ET), education level (EL) and employee’s perception of their organizations’ ethical leadership (EP), moral development, and ethical decision-making. The study failed to demonstrate a significant correlation between moral development and ethical decision-making and ET, EL, and EP. Given these findings, business leaders should consider other IT employee variables that may lead to unethical business behavior. When so identified, small business managers can promote positive social change that arises from ethical business behavior, such as continued contractual profits, increased employee morale, sustained productivity, and a decreased unemployment rate.
RT Vol XIII Ch. 7 Intrapreneurs: The Lost Tribe
Intrapreneurs are a lost tribe in corporate America stated Clay (2015), and may in part due to the advent of the cotton gin in 1793 that began intrapreneurs’ disappearance (Douglas, 1928). As people became dependent on a livelihood not of their own making, the intrapreneur spirit became subservient to the needs of the business that paid them. Macrae (1982) stated, as a social construct, big business theory is what business schools have taught as the way to success and noted that small businesses have outperformed big companies in almost every way since the 1960s. The superior performance of small companies may indicate a place to find the intrapreneur spirit. To gain and sustain success, companies need to know the general and specific barriers to success (Salarzehi & Forouharfar, 2011). In part, business success entails understanding the value of intrapreneurs. Bourdeiu’s (1986) theory on forms of capital and habitus may show how intrapreneurs became lost through the volition of modern business. Forms of capital may have helped drive the loss of intrapreneurs, and their reemergence may evolve from change in symbolic, economic, cultural, social capital, and the rising voice of a generation. This chapter provides leaders insights into to the road map that lost the intrapreneurs they seek. Finding these intrapreneurs is a means to drive sustainability, profit and thus success in business. In every generation, refractive thinkers are keen observers, and can offer guidance toward finding intrapreneurs and creating sustainable success.
RT Vol XIII Ch. 8: The Importance of Work/Life Balance as an Entrepreneur
Current academic research on stress and burnout focus on the employer/employee relationship related to balance in the work/life paradigm particularly for the entrepreneur and business owner. Work/life balance experienced through the entrepreneurial lens is a gap in existing research with far-reaching implications for both the academic and practitioner communities. The purpose of this writing was to integrate emerging research about burnout and stress as an integral part of the entrepreneurial experience using the refractive thinking approach to examine why.
RT Vol XIII Ch. 9: Entrepreneur! Really?
Entrepreneur! Really? Many components exist regarding being an entrepreneur, making it impossible to provide a short definition. Certainly, an entrepreneur must have a vision, be willing to take risks, and work long hours. As the above examples demonstrate refractive thinking, it is not necessary for an entrepreneur to be in a traditional business setting or to start a company. An emerging trend is for young people with business degrees or in business in any form, to identify themselves as entrepreneurs. Most should, at best, consider themselves aspiring entrepreneurs. Regardless of one’s educational background or qualitative understanding of what makes an entrepreneur, until one successfully transforms an innovative idea into a successful business, invests one’s entire being into making a dream a reality with blood, sweat, and tears to achieve profitability, one remains at best only an observer. Henderson Brower and Steward (2015) appropriately asked the question whether a role exists for classically trained professors in business schools of the future, suggesting that perhaps business faculty may simply need to go back to work. The next time someone states they are an entrepreneur perhaps the question to ask is: Really?
RT Vol XIII Ch. 10: The Effectiveness of Teaching Entrepreneurship Programs in Higher Education
The debate will continue regarding the enormous challenge for academics in higher education in attempting to teach what it does not know from first experience. Is faculty with insider first-hand experience as a business owner and entrepreneur more valuable to the comprehensive and contextual student experience? The purpose of this chapter was to explore the question of who should teach this emerging population of students as entrepreneurs, as these minds impact the future of business and force an adjustment of the traditional teaching model in higher education. Our goal was to follow refractive thinking to ask why not or what if, regarding who is most effective to teach and train the future entrepreneurs of the future . . . perhaps the solution lies somewhere in the midst of these extremes.