06.30.19

3 Universal Lessons About Entrepreneurship

KARL R. LAPAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE NIIC


Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Global business travel — gaining new insights, fostering real connections, and forging lifelong relationships can change you. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and observing entrepreneurial communities all across the globe. Through those experiences, I’ve learned that, despite differences in cultural norms and practices, there are specific insights about entrepreneurship that ring true universally.

Here are a few:

Great ideas come from all corners of the world.

Some people are naive in thinking that innovation only happens in large urban centers on the coasts. But the truth is, there are solid ideas in even the most remote areas. That’s because the internet has democratized access to knowledge, talent, and other resources. It’s not unusual for cross-cultural teams to work together remotely and achieve better outcomes than they would in isolation. Global inspirations come from seeing around corners, connecting dots, and demonstrating the same passion and perseverance you see from business builders regardless of location.

Failure is universal, but it doesn’t have to obstruct smart risk-taking.

Every entrepreneur faces de-risking challenges, whether it be product, market, management, financial, regulatory, or market. While some cultures are more tolerant of risk, that doesn’t mean they are more poised to succeed. They just might be more at home with, For example, China is developing an inspiring and progressive startup culture because of their attitude towards risk, as one blogger posits:

“When the Chinese see an opportunity, they will take it. They aren’t afraid to fail because they see life as a cycle of events. If they fail, they believe their time will come again.”

I have also seen firsthand how the federal government in China also underwrites some of the speculative R&D for startups giving them an edge when they need it most.

Connections matters everywhere.

A deep and robust set of contacts can be instrumental in building and scaling a business anywhere. Again, China offers an example of how entrepreneurs leverage their connections. As Alina Dizik writes in her article, “Good startups have great networks,” the Chinese know how to tap into these social networks.

“Guanxi, a traditional Chinese concept, refers to longtime acquaintances who have a relationship defined by intimacy, obligation, and a high level of trust. In a business context, the guanxi is a family-like, deeply trusted circle of people who can help grow a business—as opposed to a larger, more professional network where trust and longstanding relationships are not necessarily always present. A guanxi network, says Burt, shares some similarities to what in the US might have been called in the past – the “old boys’ club.”

Regardless of your geographic location, you can try your hand at entrepreneurship and business building. Entrepreneurs are looking to jumpstart their business come to The NIIC in search of timely access to capital, mentorship, and/or the short-term use of our facility and resources. Our venture growth services are accommodating to such needs, providing swift, comprehensive support to fast test ideas to get you and your venture on the right path quickly.

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