Technopreneurship - Technopreneur's Mind Traps

"The failure of mankind is in fear and lack of determination."

More often than not, technopreneurs fail due to lack of determination. Their vision is blurred and their commitment is weak; they fear failure, not knowing that failure is inherent to the path to success.

While psychology is beyond the scope of this book, it is necessary to cover four common mind traps that affect the vision and weaken the will.

* What if I fail?

* Can I take the risk?

* I am not good enough.

* The difference between legality and innovation.

What If I Fail?

First things first. If a technopreneur is aware of that level of risk he is undertaking and he understands the full meaning of its failure, the probability of successful technopreneurs out there is zero. 

No sensible person will take the level of risk a technopreneur undertakes because despite all the planning and analysis, a start up is a step into the unknown.

Secondly, many things can go wrong for a start-up and technopreneur, but the usual reason for failure is the lack of adaptability. As long as the technopreneur can accept that he is a part of a larger evolutionary process which requires him to be dynamic, there is very little chance for him to fail. 

According to Berry Farmer(1) in his book Diamonds Under Pressure, it is the adversity and pressure that makes us realize who we are and who we can choose to become. We refine, we change and we adapt. Accordingly he outlined five key elements of success (see figure 13.1).

They would not be any great leaders, businessmen and politicians if they thought only of themselves. It is their contributions and sacrifices that have made life better for all of us.

For instance, Abraham Lincoln lost in eight elections, had two failed businesses, went into bankruptcy and suffered a nervous breakdown that kept him in bed for six months. After all that when he suffered a loss in the election he said,

"The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other one out of the way. But I recovered and said to myself, it is a slip and not a fall."

Most successful people know how to accept defeat, face adversity and look failure in the face. Their greatness is in taking the opportunity to address and learn from every failure. Without failure we would not know nor would we be able to understand our abilities to adapt, survive and succeed. There is a very strong correlation between failure and complacency. Those who have failed miserably failed to understand this.

"Once bitten twice shy," is a fool's reasoning of failure. Once our attempts have failed and hurt us we often shun all potential and possibilities with our negativity. This is one key mind trap that technopreneurs have to address, learn and profit from.

A technopreneur should remind himself constantly that with the collapse, there will be less start-ups.Those who have failed will not touch technology for sometime (if at all again) and their failure will discourage many others from trying. 

Thus  this is a great time to start a business. There is a little competition for money and resources.

If you take a large net and throw in stones and sand, when you tip over the net, out will come the sand. The larger pieces of stone will be stuck to the net. If one follows the same process again and again using a smaller net each time, in the end we would be left with pure fine sand and no stones (see figure 13.2).

Every failure of a technopreneur is like the net replacement process. The key is to identify his cause of failure and address it by replacing the net with a new smaller one that fits the purpose. At the end of the whole process, he will get perfect grains of sand, pure, white and fine.

Can I Take The Risk?

We learn to crawl before we walk and we learn to walk before we run. If we fear taking the first step, where would we be today? Then came our childhood days where we ran and played and once in a while, we would fall. We would bleed and feel pain. Some of us would cry and some of us would take it in our stride, but regardless of what we did, the bleeding wouldn stop, the pain would go away and the wound would heal. Then would come the day you would look at the scar smile and say, "That was nothing."

In start-ups setbacks are inevitable. You may encounter a failure along the way, but the lessons learned from such a setback can prove more valuable to your company than anything else. For most people, if there is a stone on the highway, they will look at it and say, someone ought to remove it before someone gets hurt. Most individuals are selfish, passing on the responsibility to others. They are constantly unhappy because they lack the passion and determination to make changes.

But successful entrepreneurs are often the ones who have the will to change. They will most likely be the one who will take the risk of running into the traffic, risking life and limb just to remove that stone. This is their greatness. All they will be thinking about are the benefits of the stone being in its right place, not the risk associated with removing it. Successful entrepreneurs are able to make decisions quickly, take risks and stare the possibility of failure straight in the face.

The key in risk taking is to define the reason for the venture and the risk associated with it. If the risk is about capital, think about the basis that you need to survive. Anything more than that is risk capital and can be used for a venture. Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of all, still lives in the US$60,000 home he bought many years ago and drives an old car, even though he can afford something so much better. His success is who he is and not what he owns.

If the risk is about the success of the venture or facing up to the competition, then take note that there are many start-ups which, after entering established markets, have destabilised established business and competitors. It is in the dynamism and strategy of the technopreneur to fine-tune his offerings, take advantage of the openings and capitalise on them fully.

I Am Not Good Enough

Our lives have seen instances of teachers and parents telling us that they know better. Not exploring their rationale we tend to accept their conclusions, weakening our insights and the creativity associated with it. We have had our lives planned for us, in schools, colleges and then in life. We stick to things we feel comfortable with, for example, a routine, people and so on. We are averse to trying new things, being open to change and to explore what is available to us. But to be successful we have to be well-informed, flexible and opportunistic.

The business planning and putting-a-team together process essentially requires the technopreneur to think, plan and execute the necessary to be successful. You may have got an MBA or you may have not. Many successful individuals did not have the paper qualifications yet they made it. Two of the world's most notorious college dropouts are Bill Gates and Paul Allen, founders of Microsoft.

Legality and Innovation

We have to avoid being trapped by the form of the law (legality) rather than the spirit of the law.

There is a thin line between innovation and legality. Nothing is illegal as long as it increases efficiency, transparency and is good for the masses. Such innovation is also largely responsible for destabilising the fixed nature and system processes that we have come to know.

In recent years, many startups have faced numerous pressures due to government regulations and monopolies that prevent smaller organizations from growing.

Regulations are necessary as they provide a modus operandi and standardisation of processes.Their key objective is to protect and serve the man in the street so that he is not cheated, misrepresented or deprived of his basic rights as a consumer.

With due respect to those regulations, they also are responsible for a huge layer of fat that results in complacency, inefficiency, disloyalty and irresponsibility. As a technopreneur you may face tremendous pleasure asking you to disembark from a venture you have just begun; if you compete with the stock exchange or if you are replicating an efficient medium in the banking and e payments space, it is illegal.

Historically we have seen vicious barriers being created in the name of protection and there is a regulation in practically everything with you today. Venture capital raising exercises, consulting, banking, broadcasting, telecommunications and our day-to-day life are regulated.There are rules engaging every sort of our mechanisms and it is these rules that are now in question.

There’s also an unproven percentage especially in Asia that are regulated party acts in good faith and that it is of good and credible nature. As a technopreneur, your presence threatens established incumbents and they hide behind a layer of protection that has been bestowed upon them.

The way forward is self-policing and self-regulation till such regulations have been put in place. On one side the government wants us to propose and on the other hand they need to police our actions. The technopreneur is a leader and a go-getter, his vision is the strongest and to ensure that he succeeds, he should lead by example.

The Internet has demonstrated the power of numbers and has provided us with enough evidence to understand the voice of consumers in the business world. If many consumers or businesses gather under one roof, your venture can be that of a bank,  telco or a stock exchange.

Technopreneurs under pressure to conform or desist should take the following example to heart.

In the mid 1990s, stock market trading liquidity was a big problem on the Nasdaq.  You could buy a stock but when you wanted to sell there was no buyer. Stock market operators manipulated the entire market.

Dissatisfaction with this saw the emergence of electronic communication networks (ECNs) which competed head-on with the established stock market. This was illegal as it broke every known regulation in the marketplace, but it brought with it efficiency, transparency and a central location for transactions that benefited investors, allowing them to trade direct.This filled a major need, which the Nasdaq had failed to provide.

Shortly thereafter, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) started paying attention to the emergence of the ECNs and had no choice but to recognise its existence and today there are regulations governing the operations of the ECNs, all thanks to those technopreneurs who saw the need and provided solutions.

So what makes successful entrepreneurs? They are the people who have the courage to live life on their own terms, to risk failures and persist in the face of challenges. They have a desire to do something better than is being done now. They work from the depth of a vision and think outside the box. And they take care not to fall into the four common mind traps discussed earlier.

Chapter 13 Technopreneur's Mind Traps >>> 

Technopreneurship Development - A Role for Society in Technopreneurship Development, a chapter written in 2002, explains the creative destructive forces at work in practically every aspect of human life and the reasoning for the massive confusion, leading up to revolutions, lack of employment opportunities and governments fiscal deficits. Technology is usually blamed for making the world a smaller place, the writing was on the wall since the late nineties, this chapter refreshes our memories.

Technopreneurship - The Successful Entrepreneur in the New Economy - Daniel Mankani. Published 2003. Pearson Education Asia - All rights, copyright reserved Daniel Mankani { ISBN0-13-046545-3 }

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