Entrepreneurship and growth in business is often considered as some kind of mystery by many people. While there are plenty of books which make lofty claims improving the reader’s business management skills, no one seems prepared to offer lessons in entrepreneurship – maybe it is considered to be a skill that cannot be taught. But it can be.
The entrepreneur is charged with the task of turning a business idea into reality, either by starting a new business or injecting new life into an old one. At every point along the line – from having the idea to planning and implementing it – the entrepreneur learns the lessons from others who have charted the same territory previously. He can follow their example and the wisdom of their clear practices and precepts. In fact, many entrepreneurs have done exactly this and built their wealth upon the past experiences of others.
But every firm is faced with a key question sooner or later: do you try and grow the business, or are you quite content with what you’ve got? If the latter is true for you – a view which perhaps represents the traditional image of the smaller firm – then you are in the minority and behind the times.
Most firms these days are committed to growth. However, you can’t expect to grow without entrepreneurship and innovation when the climate is one of intense competition. And intense competition is not only the current climate, but a permanent feature of the new economy.
Many are averse to the inherent risk of innovation, however – including those who are actively seeking to grow their business. This is especially the case with proprietors. A survey showed that 30% are ‘unwilling to pursue any risky growth strategies’. That figure goes down to 18% among non-proprietor managers, though – obviously a more dynamic bunch altogether.
But only a fifth of the managerial types concur that ‘Growth is everything: we can’t survive in this business unless there is growth. Success comes only from taking big chances, and I would risk a great deal for a strategy which promised to deliver strong long-term growth.’ Those quite intimidating words could help to explain why as many as three-fifths of the businesses came out in favour of relative safety, preferring a ‘medium-risk strategy – as long as growth prospects are reasonably good.’
But anyway, growth doesn’t appear to be the number one objective. Most firms rated profit as ‘very important’, with growth just underneath it on a list of priorities, then market share, steady employment and value for sale.
But success comes with profitability and growth in business (together) – you need both, along with innovation and entrepreneurship.