Saturday, January 12, 2008

Entrepreneurial Vision Test

I had a great day today at the enVision conference put on by the Commerce Students' Association at the University of Toronto. I observed workshops on team-building and crisis-management in the morning, and then I got to deliver a lunchtime keynote speech on "Entrepreneurial Vision".

Most of my presentations are tactical: how to market smarter, 10 ways to fix your business, that sort of thing. Today I only had 15-20 minutes, so I went for more of a motivational message.

Students today really are graduating into an exciting world of unbounded opportunity. There are no limits to what they can do, and incredible new tools with which to succeed. As Internet marketing guru Seth Godin told me in an interview the other day, “If someone had sat down 15 years ago and said, 'How can we create an atmosphere that’s conducive to startups?', what they would have come up with is what we have today.”

So I tried to equip these students with the key entreprenurial attributes they will need to take advantage of all these opportunities - whether they end up in big business or small. I called these attributes "Entrepreneurial Vision," and offered five examples of what that means.

1. Superman can see through walls with his X-ray vision. Entrepreneurial Vision enables you to see around corners and into the future, so you know what’s coming.

2. Like a Blackberry, entrepreneurial vision is "always on," so you are aware of trends, patterns and connections nobody else has noticed yet.

3. Entrepreneurial vision means looking at problems in three dimensions: how things are, how they might be, and how to get them there. Some people look at climate change, for instance, and despair. Others see it as a huge opportunity to find new solutions, to transform people’s thinking, to find new ways of recycling, or getting to work, or harnessing the sun.

4. Entrepreneurial vision is reflective. It lets you see yourself truly, with all your limitations, so that you can acknowledge what kinds of help you need – from people to know-how or financial resources - and know where to find them.

5. Entrepreneurial vision lets you see your objective so clearly that you can vividly describe it to others to get their support. This is essential, as entrepreneurs don't do it all themselves. They succeed by getting other people – partners, employees, suppliers, investors, and most of all customers – to share their vision of how things could be.

May your Entrepreneurial Vision be 20-20.

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