Saturday, August 7, 2010

CIE Newsletter, November 2009 (repost)

As we move our newsletters and updates to a blog format, we are also reposting the old newsletters so we don't completely lose them. Pardon the formatting.

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Quarterly Newsletter - November 2009

Dear Subscriber,
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There is one public event left on the CIE 2009 calendar which you should not miss – this is the Peter Farrell Challenge Cup Finals. More than two hundred students and fifty one teams from UNSW and Macquarie Universities have spent the last month putting together business plans for commercialising their own ideas, or someone else’s.The eight finalist teams will present their proposals on campus on November 19.
In this newsletter, you will find news, links to information and registration for events, and in the ‘entrepreneur’s corner’ section, I will share some thoughts on a question which frequently comes to my mind, that is - ‘Are successful entrepreneurs born or created?’
 Entrepreneur’s Corner – CIE Director's thoughts to consider

 Corporate and Campus announcements – recent activities which may interest you

 Upcoming events – Dates for your diary

Wishing you all the best in business for the rest of 2009.


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Entrepreneur’s Corner
Are successful entrepreneurs born or created?

By Christopher Witt, CIE Director.
An age old question, this is.
We have all read the stories – where the son of the Scion goes on to trump the father in business achievement. Think of Kerry Packer, and the achievements of the “idiot son” in surpassing father Frank in business dimensions. Born or created?
Think of Rupert Murdoch, and his building of a global news empire on the back of inheriting a provincial newspaper based in Adelaide, left to him at a young age after the pre-mature death of his father. Born or created?
Think of penniless immigrant Richard Pratt coming to Australia. Over 50 years he built a packaging empire on the back of hard work and sacrifice. Born or created?
Or is there an aura of circumstance involved? Luck even?
Below the headlines, romantic fantasy and urban myths are often trotted out to explain such results. Populist authors and pundits reach for convenient explanations.
Attributional bias
They say “winners write the history books.” Thus, the bias exists that every success story will hold an indelible truth. Yet the academic and anecdotal research suggests multiple underlying causes for entrepreneurial success.
Consider this: entrepreneurship born of necessity, as distinct from opportunity seeking. The conventional wisdom is that business success stories emanate from opportunity seeking entirely. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a global study covering 42 countries including Australia, reports that businesses founded to pursue opportunity are 7 times more frequent in number than those founded out of necessity. There also appears to be a strong correlation with age, with opportunity seeking business formation reducing with age.
Yet the fact remains: out of every one hundred new businesses founded today, in ten years time only three will still be open for business.
Skill versus Passion
Much has been written of the sources for entrepreneurial advantage, be they personality characteristics, family connections, or learnt skills.
At the Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, our initial premise begins with a view that passion often drives opportunity seeking, yet skills form a foundation to maintain operational integrity and minimise risk. And it is such skills to quickly re-assess business situations with new information that distinguish serial entrepreneurs from others.
It is precisely this risk profile that is frequently misunderstood by observers. The popular mythology has it that entrepreneurs are risk-seeking. Yet, observational research suggests successful entrepreneurs are in fact risk-averse agents of opportunity. They intensely manage risk to maintain exposures to levels that can be tolerated, and to kill off poorly performing ideas earlier than others. Decisiveness is the key.
Hence skills development is an important contributor to routine management capability, while aptitude appears to drive decision making, commitment and team building at those inflexion points. In other words, passion leads to decisive strategic action, while skills can keep the train on the rails.
Timely matters more than perfect
Yet Man is still a creature of the animal kingdom, and emotion plays a considerable part at critical decision points. Research has repeatedly shown that timely decisions – but based on less information –frequently generate equal or better results, than delayed but more fully analysed decision making. This probably reflects Man’s instinctive learning capability, and our adaptive skills to transpose one set of circumstances (known) over another situation (unknown), and in effect, make good “educated guesses.”
Another fascinating fact: Man frequently over-estimates the pain of a possible mistake. And then under-estimates the ability and time needed to correct that same mistake. This leads to dwelling on failures, and hesitancy in commitments. Not a great entrepreneurial strategy!
No doubt emotional intelligence – or the lack thereof – has been a contributor to otherwise good businesses coming unglued. Think One-Tel, and its expansion into building a multi-billion dollar telecoms network, on the back of initial success as a re-selling operation. Hubris can have a poisonous effect on the entrepreneur’s ability to process contradictory information running against the grain of their accepted wisdom.
Mentoring and modelling of behaviours have been shown to strongly influence on coping skills for leaders. The CIE devotes considerable effort to provide quality time to network and learn informally from practioners.
As a pilot trains heavily in a simulated environment, so might we train entrepreneurs through experiential learning, and deep interaction with serial entrepreneurs?
Consider this - and decide to decide on at least one pending item in your in-box - today.

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Corporate and Campus Events & Announcements
12 November - National Awards Ceremony

Entrepreneurs create many of the world’s most dynamic and successful companies. That’s why Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered the world’s most prestigious business award - because it goes to the most exceptional from among a unique group of people. The 2009 Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year program is underway and category winners have been chosen across five regional awards programs. These regional winners will now progress to the national program for the title of 2009 Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year, announced at the national awards ceremony on November 12.

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UNSW student attends SIFE World Cup in Germany

Students in Free Enterprise, (SIFE), are a global organisation that enables students to lead social change through business. Earlier this year Bernise was awarded 'The Most Outstanding SIFE Member' in Australia after leading a project to assist indigenous communities become financially independent. Read More Here
“It is not just about raising money, but about innovation - embracing entrepreneurship as a way to identify problems and find practical ways to solve them.” said Bernise. Recently, Bernise attended the SIFE World Cup which showcased the outcomes of community outreach programs globally.

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Westmead Children’s Hospital implement Fundraising idea

The winners of the Social Endeavour Prize, students Iris Qi, Megan Dunne and Aldo Claparols, implemented their fundraising idea this month. Children at the hospital were asked to draw a picture in response to the question “What makes you happy?” The winning design pictured will be featured on T-shirts available for sale. Proceeds from the merchandise will go to Westmead Children’s Hospital. Read more here

View a short video of highlights from the SEP at

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19th November - The Peter Farrell Challenge Cup Finals Presentations and Dinner

Sponsored by AusIndustry and Better Place Australia.

Peter Farrell, Resmed, initiated this business planning competition in 2005. Alan Finkel, Chief Techonology Officer of Better Place Australia will be our keynoter speaker. Alan will outline the gamble BTA are making to develop smart electric cars in urban areas globally. Eight teams will be selected to present in the finals held on the 19th November. The competition boasts cash and prizes totaling $15,000 which will be presented following the presentations at the Awards Dinner.

Finalist Competition (Public is welcome):

Where: Richie Theater, Scientia, UNSW

When: 5pm, Finish by 7pm
Awards Dinner (Payment and Registration is Required):

Where: Tyree Room, Scientia, UNSW

When: 7 for 7.30pm, Finish by 10pm
To attend the Awards Dinner Register Here

If your firm is keen to engage with UNSW CIE, then please contact us.

©CIE UNSW, Christopher Witt

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