By Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
Dean, Graziadio School of Business and Management, Pepperdine University
OC Metro magazine asked deans from the region’s best business schools to answer one simple question: “What’s it going to take for an entrepreneur to bust through this recession?” Here’s what Dean Linda A. Livingstone had to say.
Several recent studies offer a conflicting picture on the prospects for entrepreneurs. On the one hand, a study released in June this year by the Kauffman Foundation pointed out that more than half of the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession or bear markets, along with nearly half of the firms on the 2008 Inc. On the other hand the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 15.4 million Americans were self-employed in May vs. 16 million in December, 2007.
So, is it, or is it not a good time to be in a small business or step out on your own as an entrepreneur? This could be the best time in a generation to start a new business.
Interestingly, successful entrepreneurs don’t usually bother with predicting the future. Rather, they try to control the future. They find an interesting problem to solve and then try to bring the solution into being. The great thing about a down economy is that there are LOTS of problems to solve. And the great thing about teaching entrepreneurship at the Graziadio School—a business school named for a serial entrepreneur at a university founded by another entrepreneur– is helping people be better problem finders. Resources are cheaper. Paradoxically, it’s a good time to start a new venture or to be that business owner who has answered that all important must-solve problem.
The basic building blocks for a successful small business are in place even in the current recessionary environment – finance, market opportunities, less competition, talent and low entry costs. Most of all, there are an abundance of market problems waiting to be solved by entrepreneurs. What is missing for many potential small business owners is the creativity, passion and courage to make their small business dreams a reality.
In mentoring MBAs toward entrepreneurship and working with small businesses through our Education-to-Business Live Case Program, partnering companies with students to find new entrepreneurial market opportunities, I have learned that those with great ideas and passion can make a small business work no matter how the economy is faring. In fact, this core concept drives the Graziadio School’s new entrepreneurship program, re-launched with a new curriculum design this fall in Los Angeles and debuting in Irvine in the spring. A successful business in any economy is not built around a great business plan, rather springs from a great problem-solving creative idea that has personal meaning for the entrepreneur and high market value.
However, there also are some common mistakes that would derail a potential small business. From taking out risky loans, to limiting the potential geographic market, to interpersonal management habits, there are avoidable mistakes that can set back a business even before it’s off the ground.
The thing about economic downturns is they are always followed by turns upward. A small business owner or entrepreneur who is a successful problem-finder in the worst of times is the same successful problem-finder when times are good.
Courtesy of OC Metro magazine
November 6 – Drescher Graduate Campus, Malibu
- Explore new idea generation, new venture creation and the critical steps to transform a great idea into a successful enterprise.
- Understand the key goals of writing the business plan
- Gain a keen awareness of the appropriate corporate structures, proprietary and non-proprietary protection issues, and key federal/state regulations