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About this book

Have you ever thought about starting a business but didn't know where to start? Maybe you've pondered the possibility but don't have any business ideas. Or perhaps you graduated a while ago and are considering a more entrepreneurial career. This book provides a step-by-step guide to generating and implementing business ideas.

Combining the experience of over a dozen successful graduate entrepreneurs with the latest thinking and research on the subject, Graduate Entrepreneurship will help you:

• Develop the entrepreneurial mindset you need to start a business
• Learn the secret to effective sales, marketing and strategy
• Boost your creativity so that you can discover more ideas
• Acquire a step-by-step action plan on how to execute a promising business concept

So, whether you have a business idea or need help finding one, this book provides a concise, practical introduction to the world of entrepreneurship.

Table of Contents

1. The seven myths of entrepreneurship

Abstract
Everyone has a business idea in them but they never think it’s good enough. This is because people often judge early ideas against already established businesses. However, no venture ever starts fully formed. Every successful idea starts small and over time can mature into greatness. Did you know, for example, that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group started as a small mail-ordering business? The company would take orders through the post and mail music records to customers. In hose early days it is doubtful Branson knew how big his venture would become. The reality of entrepreneurship is that an idea does not have to be perfect from the get-go; nor does it have to be extraordinary.
Michael Tefula

2. What is entrepreneurship?

Abstract
Why start a chapter with the history of entrepreneurship? There are two reasons. First, history brings to light how old entrepreneurship is. The word ‘entrepreneur’ may be an 18th century term1 but entrepreneurs have been around for many thousands of years. Second, by considering the history of enterprise we can identify themes of entrepreneurship that have persisted over the millennia. And though it is true that ancient entrepreneurs had different challenges – for example, primitive technology, crude regulations, and high transport costs – entrepreneurship has elements that have persisted over time.2 So where did it all start?
Michael Tefula

Mindset

Frontmatter

3. Self-belief

Abstract
Entrepreneurs have a strange confidence in themselves. It’s strange because they’re often – at least initially – the only ones who think they can succeed. This characteristic is so prevalent in business leaders that when PwC, one of the Big Four accounting firms, surveyed 1,000 CEOs during a global economic slowdown, they reported more than double the confidence in their ability to grow their firms than in the growth prospects of the general economy.1 This phenomenon is not limited to people who are already successful either.
Michael Tefula

4. Passion

Abstract
When Alicia Keys, Victoria Beckham, and Kim Kardashian were deciding what to wear for their wedding days, they all turned to someone with a peculiar history: the award-winning designer Vera Wang. What makes Vera’s story remarkable is that she did not originally plan to start a wedding dress business. From the age of seven Vera wanted to be a figure skater and that’s what she spent most of her youth doing. Over the years Vera’s sense of style and fashion stood out to others but it wasn’t something she took seriously. Her biggest passion and priority was to compete in the Olympics as a professional figure skater. Unfortunately her hopes were shattered when she failed to qualify for the Olympic team in the 1968 US Figure Skating Championships. And for a while, Vera felt lost.
Michael Tefula

5. Endurance

Abstract
No matter how well you prepare when starting a business, there will be obstacles. Competition could turn fierce; you may need more money than you’d planned for; a co-founder may abandon your venture; or a personal emergency could bring your business to a complete standstill. In light of these circumstances it’s prudent to come to terms with the fact that when you enter the arena of entrepreneurship you will not leave unscathed. Entrepreneurship is inherently uncertain and things don’t always work out as planned. However, if you can endure – that is, sustain your efforts in the face of obstacles – you will be more likely to create a successful business.
Michael Tefula

6. Creativity

Abstract
It’s hard to believe that a 15th century wine press – a device used to crush grapes – is part of the reason why you’re able to read this book. But as strange as it may seem, there is a connection. In the 1400s, after a failed business venture, entrepreneur Johannes Gutenberg decided to explore the technology wine merchants used in their businesses. Gutenberg’s previous venture involved manufacturing ‘magical’ mirrors for religious people, so alcohol was quite the deviation. Still, it wasn’t wine he was interested in; Gutenberg had other motives.1 For more than 4,000 years books were produced and copied by hand. The process was painstaking. One book alone could take more than a year to produce and only the rich could afford to buy one. Gutenberg saw this as an opportunity.
Michael Tefula

7. Leadership

Abstract
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘leadership’? If you’ve ever been to an assessment day for a graduate job or watched an episode of The Apprentice, your view of leadership might be that it’s about someone taking charge. A charming but authoritative person usually comes to mind. However, this view of leadership fails to account for the true diversity of leaders. Sometimes leadership isn’t so loud. Sometimes it’s rather discreet. Susan Wojcicki (pronounced Whoa-jit-ski) is one example. She’s currently a mother of five and was the first woman to have a baby at the company she works for. Her colleagues praise her for being great at recruiting and motivating strong leaders. She also has a way with inspiring confidence in those who work for her.
Michael Tefula

Skill set

Frontmatter

8. Strategy

Abstract
Strategy has its roots in ancient warfare. The battlefield is replete with examples of the craft but perhaps none are more telling than the legend of Helen of Troy. In the myth, the world’s most handsome man, Paris of Troy, ran off with the world’s most beautiful woman, Helen of Sparta. However, the affair turned out to be fatal since Helen was already married to the king of Sparta, Menelaus. Angered by the event, Menelaus formed an alliance with other Greek kingdoms and set out to punish the Trojans. The furious king launched a thousand ships and set out on a war that would last for a decade.
Michael Tefula

9. Marketing

Abstract
You may not know who Bertha Ringer is but in 1888 she pulled off one of the world’s first marketing stunts for a car business. How did this come to be? It all started in 1869 when a 20-year-old Bertha fell in love with an introverted engineer. And, though he was a clever man, he was hopeless at business. He lacked self-belief and would often doubt himself. Bertha thought differently. She believed in the engineer so much that when his workshop almost went bust she did not hesitate to invest her dowry and inheritance in order to save the business. Who was the lucky chap? It was none other than Carl Benz, founder of Mercedes-Benz and the man Bertha would eventually marry.1
Michael Tefula

10. Sales

Abstract
In the final scene of the 2013 movie The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is introduced at a seminar as the world’s greatest sales trainer. No longer one to exude arrogance, Belfort thanks the audience, takes centre stage, and pauses for a moment. For a while his intent is unclear. But just as the audience start to become restless, Belfort casually walks over to a man in the front row and offers him a classic sales litmus test: ‘sell me this pen’. The challenge is legendary in sales circles; some employers use it as a prompt when interviewing candidates for sales jobs. This is because it can demonstrate how good someone is at selling.
Michael Tefula

11. Branding

Abstract
Branding starts with a name and names serve one main purpose: unique identification. In 11th century England this process couldn’t have been any simpler. There was no need for surnames since village populations were small and people could be identified by just one name.1 However, this all changed when populations grew. To identify someone, people started to use a more distinctive process that gave way to the surnames we know today. For example, one method that grew popular was to combine a first name with someone’s profession: a tailor named John became ‘John the tailor’, and ultimately John Taylor.
Michael Tefula

12. Finance

Abstract
Sir Richard Branson was once given a set of financial statements to review at a board meeting. However, he struggled to make sense of the numbers and that’s when a colleague realised something: their boss did not know the difference between ‘net’ and ‘gross’. Bear in mind that Branson is dyslexic. He struggled academically at school1 but did not let it get in the way of him becoming a successful entrepreneur. Perhaps it was the humility of enlisting the help of others to complement his strengths that got him ahead. Nonetheless, this is exactly what Branson did at the board meeting.
Michael Tefula

Process

Frontmatter

13. Identifying opportunities

Abstract
One of the top reasons why graduates never consider entrepreneurship is a lack of business ideas. To many, ideas are the most pivotal part of starting a business. But while there’s some truth to this we should not be intimidated by the process of finding ideas. Nor should we allow this fear to deprive us of the opportunity to start a business. Once you understand the nature of business opportunities you will find that the process of discovering them is rather straightforward. This is because the core of a business idea is quite rudimental. Just think about any business venture – your favourite restaurant, retail store, or website.
Michael Tefula

14. Evaluating opportunities

Abstract
In the previous chapter we looked at a number of ways you can discover new business ideas. If you completed the exercise in that chapter you will have a list of ideas to consider. This chapter deals with the criteria you can use to select an idea to pursue. If you already have a concept you would like to explore you can also use this chapter to test how attractive the idea is. So how do we evaluate business ideas? Business literature is filled with dozens of methods but you don’t need to know all of them to proceed. Instead, here are three quick rules of thumb you can use in your assessment.
Michael Tefula

15. Exploiting opportunities

Abstract
Once you have a business idea worth pursuing, what are the next steps? There are no specific rules to follow since entrepreneurship is dynamic. Still, it’s possible to create a new venture by following a number of broad strokes and in this chapter we will do exactly that. What follows is an abridged version of the implementation stage in the entrepreneurial process.1 And for illustrative purposes we will walk through a seven-step action plan using a fictitious business case. Example scenarios are provided in the shaded boxes but you do not need to read them all to grasp the essential concepts ahead.
Michael Tefula
Additional information