The Personal Cost of Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is a complex concept with very simple (and humble) origin. It is basically the process of developing a business, company, startup, organization or venture aiming at bringing something new (and needed) resource in the world! This is what I was thinking when I had finished the university and I still believe today. It is not about money. Or at least is not JUST for the money. Entrepreneurship, for me, is a disruptive process, aiming at fill in existing requirements (needs if you like) and manifest a new thing (item, commodity, resource, asset, etc) in the world.

The Personal Cost of Entrepreneurship

What Entrepreneurship Is All About

Entrepreneurship (along to technology, creativity, leadership, innovation, investing, etc.) is a transformation agent, aiming at driving the society towards a better view of our life! It is an aspect of a “would be” situation you think it can yield greater benefits, to a much larger numbers of people. It is a game of course, and a game you like to play (and continue to play)! But it is also a very serious process not to be taken (or employed) lightly!

In its basic expression, Entrepreneurship, is:

the process of starting a business or other organization. The entrepreneur develops a business model, acquires the human and other required resources, and is fully responsible for its success or failure. (Wikipedia:Entrepreneurship)

But is not just that. Entrepreneurship needs a “friendly environment” in order to operate and thrive! It needs a suitable Entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

Nothing can be operated on a void. Especially the business processes! New business is a new genre of business, unlike anything else in the past! In business (especially more so, today) everything connects to something else, affects something and is affected by something else! Everything is (or should be) part of a system, working towards providing specific business results and objectives! So is the entrepreneurship! It needs a suitable environment to be developed. An “Entrepreneurship Ecosystem” to be exact!

The entrepreneurship ecosystem:

refers to the elements – individuals, organizations or institutions – outside the individual entrepreneur that are conducive to, or inhibitive of, the choice of a person to become an entrepreneur, or the probabilities of his or her success following launch. Organizations and individuals representing these elements are referred to as entrepreneurship stakeholders. (Wikipedia:Entrepreneurship ecosystem)

When I designed my first e-Learning system, the concepts of e-Learning, distance learning, blended learning, etc. were more than 2 years towards their today form. At the time, I was not starting a new business. I was not an entrepreneur! Actually I was employed in an IT company, just exploring the new, then, technologies, of multimedia and internet!

Still, as a new project manager, researching and employing new technologies and providing solution for various business problems, I was convinced that we needed (as company, as business, as society) a system to facilitate the management, evaluation and the remote access of people to training resources!

Fortunately, my supervisor at the time was doing a Ph.D. at learning theories and technologies and saw the business opportunities presented by such a venture!

The Personal Cost of Entrepreneurship

At the time were very little papers and research related to distance education (a more common term of the same thing, at those days).  There were even fewer technologies, robust enough to achieve a basic learning management system (employing basic user and training materials’ management, basic evaluation, basic access to specified resources, etc.) Of course, there were many ready-made “components“, designed for different purposes, that could serve my remote training purposes!

And since, there weren’t something available, I designed it from scratch! Even more, I code the prototype alone (at least its first version), single-handed and at my home. When I have reached a certain level, I pitched it to my company in order to allocate resources on it and market it!

I was lucky enough, as I have already said, because my supervisor endorse me (and later he was involved actively in the project), and all the things start fall into place! The original system I had developed, adopted by the company (which it market it in the Greek market with a lot of successes) and evolved as a product, a new distance learning department was developed in the company, and our clients were more than happy, because they had the opportunity to deliver learning material to a large number of end-users!

Certainly, that first system, was a success and under a loose definition, it was also entrepreneurship (even though it was not started as such!) You can even defined my development of that particular e-Learning system as a business development, but wasn’t that either! What was it was the manifestation of a personal vision in business terms! It was my pet project and it was “my project“! But before it becomes a project in my company was a personal “proof of concept” and a personal bet!

A bet I was more than eager to win! And for that I had devoted:

  • passion and dedication
  • unilateral focus on its implementation
  • an abundant of time on study and design
  • more than 7 months in development, coding and verification during my spear time
  • A lot of time and energy in testing, verifying and evaluate the results

When I start it, I start it without a strategy or a specific goals, in order to make something quick-and-dirty solution in order to prove a concept I believed it would be beneficial to all involved parties! It took a lot more than I was traded for:

It cost me a lot:

  • Time
  • Energy
  • Resources
  • Assets
  • Stress
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Delays, suspensions, or setbacks of other (equally, important, most of the times) priorities
  • Lost opportunities (both personal and professional)
  • Possible relationships
  • Imbalance between personal and business life

These are side-effects, usually you do not count in the final output. You usually carried out by your passion, the flow of the process and the concept of doing something that would “make a difference“, that you neglect to make a “reality check“! But you should.

You should always be ready to do an ROI when you have to undertake such commitments! Because if they are not under control, they can cost you not only time, energy, money and resources but a load of other equally, or even more important, things in your life!

This is something, I always have in mind! Because otherwise the “Personal Cost of Entrepreneurship” might be great and you might not be able or willing to pay for!

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    Takis Athanassiou is an IT Consultant, Blogger, Trainer & Writer, active in the areas of leadership, business consulting, e-Learning and social media. He aims at the development of people, business and assets! You can check out his blog, add him in Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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