Written by Steve Thrash, Executive and Entrepreneur in Residence at SOURCE

Steve Thrash –Executive and Entrepreneur in Residence at SOURCE River West Entrepreneurship Center

Steve Thrash –Executive and Entrepreneur in Residence at SOURCE River West Entrepreneurship Center

Many definitions exist for what true entrepreneurism is and how to recognize entrepreneurial traits in individuals. Numerous self-help books and well-meaning gurus set entrepreneurship up as engaging in a risk taking, role-of-the-dice undertaking, intended only for those of us with a strong heart and weak mind willing to risk it all to become the new Steve Jobs or fill in the blank billionaire maven. 

I'd like to suggest an alternative profile to the wild-eyed, throw caution to the wind persona. 

A current online course from Harvard Business School Online defines entrepreneurship as "the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources currently controlled.” A far cry from the more traditional definitions and a bit of a yawner. However, the course goes on to identify the attributes below as key characteristics of successful endeavors by entrepreneurs.

Mind you without some risk, there is no reward. I'd suggest however without some return - monetary or otherwise - you shouldn't bear the risk.  Calculated risk is just smart management.

A process taken on by many successful serial entrepreneurs involves:

  1. Identifying an opportunity (i.e. a problem to solve, improvement to make, an added value to a circumstance.)

  2. Forming a hypotheses and test. We have good ideas, but to ensure a viable business can be formed you must test - at low cost in a limited time - your idea and your hypotheses.

  3. Tracking results, adjusting, expanding or abandoning based on your findings. It is this step that gets lost in the mix when considering a venture. Without it, your investment of time, money, reputation and energy is at a far greater risk.

  4. Launching.  When your idea proves itself out - you have found how to capture and create customer value in testing, only then is it time to plan and launch your business. 

The caveat is ventures start, scale, fail and need adjustment constantly. The process is never done, and the true entrepreneur loves the hunt. 

For more information on planning, starting, scaling and succeeding at business, contact SOURCE River West Entrepreneurship Center for programs and guidance on next steps as you pursue your opportunity.