Entrepreneurial Virtues

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Virtues are behavior showing high moral standards. Here I will share virtues found in entrepreneurs.

Based on the 3 traits of entrepreneurs, which are: idea generators, innovators, & initiators, there are virtues connected to those traits:

  1. As idea generators the entrepreneurs must be able to formulate insight through introspection, investigation of the environment and trust intuition. The virtues related are: rationality and faith. Rationality because the entrepreneur must be able to think, reason and imagine as he or she introspects and investigates the environment to come up with insights. When it comes to intuition, the ability to envision the future by sudden knowledge without need for conscious reasoning, the entrepreneur must be able to have faith in intuition. This faith allows him or her to hold on to a belief while finding ways to create reality.
  1. As innovators, the entrepreneur must be able to have the virtue of objectivity. Innovation entails research and to be able to come up with sound findings, the entrepreneur must be able to judge without partiality. Objectivity is then the concept of truth independent from individual subjectivity.
  1. Finally, in order for the entrepreneur to initiate the venture the entrepreneur must have the virtue of integrity and the virtue of courage. Integrity means to be whole and for a person to be whole, he or she must be able to align what they are thinking into action, of course the thought must be morally upright. The opposite integrity is hypocrisy or to say one thing and do something else. Then we have the virtue of courage. This virtue is for one to be able to make decision, take risks and rectify errors. Often, a lot of people have great business ideas yet fail to pursue because of fear. Nelson Mandela best explained courage with these words: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Evolution of Entrepreneur

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Charles Darwin popularized the theory of evolution: that we are all related and gradually changed or evolved overtime. I won’t be talking about that kind of evolution instead I will be discussing the evolution of the word entrepreneur by giving the definition of entrepreneur from 4 different thinkers across different centuries, then I will integrate the features that define the entrepreneur so we have a better picture of an entrepreneur.

The simplest definition of entrepreneur we know today is someone who starts a business and bears the risk. To trace the early definition of entrepreneur, the story begins during enlightenment; a time when the main philosophy is reason and no longer faith, a time when science and liberalism gained traction and a time when economies are starting to open that resulted to more prosperity of mankind.

The word entrepreneur comes from the French word entreprende, which means, to undertake. The word was first used in 18th century France to describe someone who promotes a theater show.

Richard Cantillon, an Irishman living in France first used the word “Entrepreneur” in his book Essay on the Nature of Commerce published in 1755. The word entrepreneur was applied to anyone who buys a product and sells it at a higher price, in short, someone in trading business or a businessman. An example would be an apple trader who buys several apples for 5 pesos each and sells each piece for 8 pesos.

Now in 1803, Jean-Baptiste Say, in his Treatise on Political Economy defined the entrepreneur as someone who “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower productivity and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.” This means that the entrepreneur increases the value of a resource. Going back to the apple example, now the apple is no longer being sold an apple fruit but now sold as an apple juice in bottles.

Then in 1911, Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian American political scientist and economist, gave us a more modern definition of entrepreneur. You can find it on on his book Theory of Economic Development, “the person who destroys the existing economic order by introducing new products and services, by creating new forms of organization, or by exploiting new raw materials.” Now, the apple is no longer sold as apples or apple juice. The apple entrepreneur has created an organization to put up juice stations around the country to sell fresh apple juice.

Peter Drucker, the modern management guru defines entrepreneur as someone who always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. The apple entrepreneur would find the opportunistic idea through research, and knowing through research, how healthy lifestyle has been an increasing importance in the modern age, the apple entrepreneur then would search or farm for organic apples and sell to the market.

Now, here are a few observations and at the same time an integration about the entrepreneur based on the definitions from the 4 thinkers. First, the entrepreneur is a businessman, in the sense that he or she is involved in trading and to do this, there has to be a vehicle, the enterprise. Second, the entrepreneur increases the value of a resource and this is done through innovation and finally, the entrepreneur is in constant search of opportunistic ideas. So, the entrepreneur therefore ideates, innovates and initiates businesses.

On ideas

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Look around and you will see objects like table, TV or computer. All these started with a single idea. These ideas may have come from a sudden flash of genius or a product of thinking process.

There are people who look down on ideas. Those who look down on ideas see them as cheap, common and that any Tom, Dick, and Harry can come up with ideas. I would agree if ideas are left to be concepts, or unmoving, but in the hands of those who can put theory and practice together, ideas can have great consequences. As what was said in the movie Dead Poet Society, “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Here, I want to share my reflection on idea: the different types, that ideas consequences, and that idea comes from our experiences.

Let me first make a distinction. There are 2 types of ideas: normal and unique. A normal idea in the context of business is an idea that is an imitation of an existing concept. An example would be copying a friend’s business. If the friend has an online store selling Apple gadgets, then the idea would be to sell the same products. A unique idea, however, is an idea that is not born out of copying an existing business but has gone through reflection or research.

Going back to the value of ideas, a unique idea has more value, in terms of novelty, compared to that of normal idea. The ultimate judgment though happens only when the idea is put to the test.

Ideas affect ones thinking and action. In Japan, they have a system called noren-wake an idea that a company helps their senior employee establish a business after they retire; the system of noren-wake stems from their cultural concept of gratitude.

Ideas such as noren-wake is a consequence of paradigm/experience. Our actions, according to Philosopher, Martin Heidegger, comes from what we learned from culture, society and what we are fed by media. How we go beyond what we know or experience is for another topic. The point is, the ideas we have are influenced by how we experience the world.

Something else happens when we do something about our ideas. Once we act on our ideas, our paradigm changes. Our thinking changes with our action, our perspective expands, we ask more and we ask better to make better actions. Our actions now are influenced by our former action.

I have taught audience from all class levels and age, the ideas they produce are reflections of their experiences. The tendency of those who have a long work experience tend to be related to their work experience while the younger and aspiring entrepreneurs tend to start based on their interest.

In the end, the purpose of idea is not to come up with more ideas but to create reasons to act. I see ideas like that of the Cross of Christ, and the question is, what is your reason to take it up?

A kinder definition of business

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Even if we are doing it, we did not stop to think about it. We accepted it as a learnt tradition. Maybe we can pause and ask what a business is (entrepreneurial venture) and what is asked of us as we do our business.

The most common answer to the definition of business in modernity is providing solutions to customers for profit. There are 2 important objectives here: solve problems and gain profit. Nothing wrong with this, in fact, innovative companies have given us comfort, created wealth and uplifted lives for centuries now. Because of them we have cars, computers, phones, and medical equipment that helped saved lives to name a few. So thanks to Science.

However, some companies and capitalists that have inspired to solve society’s problems have also become the very source of human rights concerns and other social problems.

I want to share another definition of business, one that is kinder to environment and labor. It can be found in Pope Francis’ Fratelli Tutti:

“Business activity is essentially a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving our world.

God encourages us to develop the talents he gave us, and he has made our universe one of immense potential. In God’s plan, each individual is called to promote his or her own development,and this includes finding the best economic and technological means of multiplying goods and increasing wealth.

Business abilities, which are a gift from God, should always be clearly directed to the development of others and to eliminating poverty, especially through the creation of diversified work opportunities. The right to private property is always accompanied by the primary and prior principle of the subordination of all private property to the universal destination of the earth’s goods, and thus the right of all to their use.”

What makes the definition different from that of the first I gave is the addition of the word noble on top of wealth production and development. This is important because this is how business is to be seen, as a noble venture. A noble venture is something that genuinely promotes something good in its goods.  Nobility is something unfashionable in the world today but such virtue is universal and is never out of style. Saying nobility is out of style is like saying good is no longer relevant in today’s world. On the contrary, we need more good today. The simple addition of nobility can create a big change.

Business is also something that helps us develop our talents. In developing ourselves, in producing goods and creating profit, technology is utilized and not us being subordinates to machines. An example of technology controlling man would be that of the algorithm of social sites. Instead of us creating something original, we tend to adjust to what is needed by the algorithm so that we achieve the standards they have put; standards like likes, and views. This won’t be the case unless the person understands how the algorithm works and finds a way to go around it. But as soon as the site learns that the algorithm has been beaten, it will be changed to a different one. What happens then is an endless battle between man and machine.

We are also reminded that our business abilities are God given, that it is to be used to uplift lives of people in poverty by providing job opportunities. The goal to uplift other goes beyond corporate social responsibility for publicity but it calls to make good truly part of the company’s core values. Another reminder is the one about ownership and private property; it is a reminder that “God gave the earth to the whole human race for the sustenance of all its members, without excluding or favoring anyone”.

I end it here. Business may also be seen from a different light, one that is kinder and considerate to environment, ourselves and others yet doesn’t sacrifice profit. In the end, if done in this manner, business becomes a genuinely noble endeavor.

Creating good first impression during presentation

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Often people fail to capture the attention of the audience because they fail to create a good first impression. In this article, I will share several ways on how to create good first impression. This will not only benefit first timers but also those who have been presenting for years but feel they can do better.

First, presentation is all about communicating your ideas, but in communicating ideas, it is not just the hearing is involved but other senses of the receiver as well: eyes that looks at you and your presentation, the nose that smells the environment and the sense of touch that decide on their comfort. The point is, presentation is not just about sharing ideas but an experience. And when an good experience is delivered a good impression is created. So, how can one level up their reporting game?

  1. Prepare ahead of time. Make sure the report has all the relevant data in visual form such as graphs and charts. Instead of showing the complete spreadsheet, just focus on the insights. The data where the visuals are from can be printed for reference.
  2. Practice you report. Do a run of your report and have some notes prepared about the main ideas. Try to keep report down to 5-7 slides and under 20 minutes. This way, listeners do not get bombarded with information. The rest can be used form clarification.
  3. Check the environment. The place has to have good temperature, not to hot or cold. The projector, screen and audio need to be tested ahead of time as not to waste time of audience.

Reporting is a skill the can be developed and improved. By preparing, practicing and creating a good environment, the reporter leaves a good impression to the audience.