Entrepreneurship has been defined by Cohen (2005 p. 11) as risk and responsibility assumption with regard to the development and execution of business strategy. However, unless one interacts with an entrepreneur who has been in business for sometime, one may not be in a position to appreciate what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Timmons and Pinelli (2003 p. 21) argue that an interview with an entrepreneur enables a student to gain insight into the approaches, strategies and motivations that characterises an entrepreneur.
This report revolves around an interview with Peter Lugg, a freelance website designer based in Adelaide, Australia. He is the brains behind a company known as ‘Digital Coffee’ that specializes in the development of websites for clients. With its headquarters in Adelaide, Australia, the area of specialisation of Digital Coffee is the creation and upgrading of websites for small businesses. The development and design of websites by Digital Coffee is with a view to assisting businesses in three fundamental areas. To start with, the company wishes to assist the business to not only establish, but also reinforce their brand, by making use of the internet. In addition, the company endeavours to assist business create awareness to consumers regarding the services and products that they produce, to facilitate online or instore purchases. Finally, Digital Coffee aspires to monitor the traffic statistics of the clients’ websites to enable that clients reap maximum benefits from the investments that they have made.
Interview with an Entrepreneur
This writer had the chance to interview Daniel Lugg, the founder of Digital Coffee, a website development company that targets especially the small firms. The entrepreneur outlined how for six years now, he has managed to build up a website development that is today a force to reckon with. Before he had ventured into the business of designing websites, he first undertook a fine Arts degree as an undergraduate from the University of Adelaide. Lugg confided in this writer that what actually drove him to pursue the course that would later on define his career was that as a child, he had developed a soft spot for drawing pictures with crayons, much to the amazement of his family and friends were amazed with, in effect fuelling his resolve to turn his passion into a profession later in life. This is a testimony of the fact that a number of entrepreneurs usually turn their hobbies or talents into a business venture. Besides the passion that Lugg had for fine art right from childhood, he was also lucky enough to have role models from within the family whom he looked up to for inspiration. In fact, Lugg has noted his uncle as an influence to his choice of career. Incidentally, he is also an alumnus of the University of Adelaide, where he specialised in print design. He secured a job with a local paper as a print designer, and young Lugg would pay a visit to his place of work, and this only added to his admiration of the profession.
Besides the uncle, Lugg was also influenced to pursue entrepreneurship by his grandmother, to whom he was very close to. She literary helped raised him and his two elder sisters, following the death of his mother when he was only three. The grandmother always encouraged young Daniel and the two sisters to ensure that they enjoyed what we chose as a career. When one view entrepreneurship as a passion, they are better able to handle the challenges that come with it. The result is that an individual feels energised and full of enthusiasm, thereby placing entrepreneurs in good stead to overcome the numerous hardships that business have to endure daily. According to Cooper (2006, p. 81), the inclination for individual to assume entrepreneurial responsibilities is not impacted on to a great extent by the educational background of such an individual.
Nevertheless, Daniel attended college at a time when the digital technology was picking up. Accordingly, fine art students at the time were best placed to combine information technology with fine art. Moreover, the university that Daniel attended recognised the need to overhaul the curricula to embrace information technology, and this is how the students ended up undertaking an all-rounded course. On the other hand, Daniel, when interviewed, was quick to point out that the drive to take the entrepreneurial risk is something that cannot be taught in school, but is a trait that is unique to individuals. This is in agreement with the observation that has been made by Cooper.
Prior to your joining college, Daniel had ventured into the business of selling baseball caps and tee-shirts to make ends meet, a further testament of the fact that he discovered his entrepreneurial traits early in life. Before embarking on your current business, Daniel had not received any training on sales and marketing. However, through the experiences of his business of selling sportswear, Daniel pointed out to this writer that he felt that he had managed to gather the necessary skills that he would need to market his products in website designing. In addition, he ahs over the years formed the habit of attending conferences and seminars on sales and marketing, not to mention that he is an avid reader of marketing and sales related journals and publications.
The circumstances that led to Daniel assuming entrepreneurship are a clear testament of how individuals with entrepreneurial traits identifies and seizes a business opportunity, while the rest of us may not be even aware of it. As this entrepreneur narrated to the writer during the interview, he had been out of college for eight months with no so hard for in school had amounted to nothing. One day, he was having coffee with his girlfriend at a local shopping centre when she mentioned in passing that her grandfather, who happened to own the coffee shop, was in need of an extra waiter.
Considering that he was in desperate need of work, Daniel approached the old man and he got the job. That is when he realised that there were an increasing number of customers that were calling the coffee shop to place orders for deliveries to their place of work or home. Most of them were at pains to explain that they were not familiar with the various varieties of coffee that was on offer. That is how the idea of launching a website for the business came to him. He relayed his suggestion to the coffee shop owner, and he was receptive, considering that more two thirds of the customers were young people below the age of forty years. Accordingly, they were more likely to place their orders online.
When the idea was implemented, the coffee shop witnessed a two-fold increase in terms of delivery orders. David’s boss, elated by the positive transformation that his business was taking, recommended him to his business friends through word of mouth, and that is how ‘Digital Coffee’ was formed. Having identified an opportunity, this writer was curious to establish how the entrepreneur had managed to assess this opportunity, with respect to the fundamental elements for business success. To start with, the entrepreneur concurred that he was well aware of the gamble that he was taking, by embracing the bold step of leaving formal employment, to establish a business whose future he was yet to know.
In addition, he was also well aware of the fact that competition in the market would be stiff, not to mention the fact that as an upstart, generating enough capital would prove to be a real hurdle. In light of this, the entrepreneur’s goal was to market his skills though word of mouth, starting first from his locality. As a further measure to cut down on operational costs, he resolved to work from home, in effect not incurring the fee payable for a business premises. Lucky for him, his father lend him his laptop computer, which he would sue to design websites and make presentations to potential clients. Asked about the amount of his initial capital, David responded that he had only managed to save Aus $ 1,000. Luckily, his grandmother matched his contribution three times, although they reached an arrangement that he would later on repay her back the Aus $ 3,000 after a period of one year, in instalments.
After he had been up-and running, the writer wished to know how long the entrepreneur took before his business could break even. The first three months were especially difficult for him, because owing to the fact that his business was still in its infancy stage and therefore was not well known. For this reason, he only managed to get occasional jobs, and most of these were referrals by individuals that he had done work for. However, in his seventh month of operation, his revenues hit the break-even point.
Asked about the strengths and weaknesses behind his venture, the entrepreneur responded that his desire to go it alone as an entrepreneur was and still his greatest strength. Considering that he had always contemplated about starting his own business even before leaving college, his greatest fear had always been the possibility of starting a business venture with the likelihood that it would fail. However, his risk taking trait reined supremacy, when he decided to finally go it alone. Then there is the issue of lacking capital. Despite the fact that he was deficient in his start-up capital, this did not demoralise him, a further testament of the fact that entrepreneurs are self driven. On the other hand, Daniel attested to the fact that he has always enjoyed challenges, which is why he lacked the necessary amount of capital.
Embracing information technology has also ensured that now, David does not have to rely on the conventional types of marketing for my products. This indicates that entrepreneurs are for ever on the look-out for strategies to enable them do business differently, relative to competition. Moreover, internet marketing is affordable, and has a wider global reach, and this has meant added business for the entrepreneurship. On the other hand, the entrepreneur cited over confidence as his my greatest weaknesses. So much is his over confidence that sometimes, he often fails to take into account the views and perception of others. This could prove costly to an entrepreneur and his business since these are the consumers for whom the products are supposed to target.
Asked if there been demanding trade offs or conflicts that he has had to face in his venture, this entrepreneur answered in the affirmative cited his frosty relationship that he enjoyed with his girlfriend when he was starting the business due to his inability to strike a balance between work and his personal life. Eventually, they had to break-up. Moreover, despite the fact that this entrepreneur is an avid traveller, nevertheless the demanding nature of his work has ensured that he ahs only gone on holiday once for the last six years. This entrepreneur’s secret to survival in business is sheer determination, the need to make a difference in my business venture, and also the thrill of discovering new things, everyday. This is what has enabled him to keep going thus far.
On the question of whether he would do anything about his business differently given the chance, the entrepreneur was categorical, claiming that he would not change a thing. It was his belief that he had given his all to the business and learnt through the mistakes that he had committed along the way. His only regret however, was that he lacked enough time to implement all that he wished to accomplish within the time frame that he had set out. According to this entrepreneur, self confidence is the greatest attitude that one could ever posses, because the entrepreneurial world is full of pitfalls. Furthermore, an entrepreneurs needs to be a god organizer, in addition to planning and thinking critically. On the other hand, proper entrepreneurial education and training are critical concepts in the discipline.
To most people, being an entrepreneur is a job laden with stress. From this point of view, this writer wished to explore the position of the entrepreneur being interviewed, based on his experience. When one ventures into the entrepreneurial world, taking of risks is a must, according to David. You are your own boss and as such, the decision that you make shall make or break the organisation. Unlike a multinational organisation, in which the decision making process may be a teamwork, for an upstart entrepreneurial business, the job is relegated to one individual; the founder. David suspects this to be the source of the element of stress. Nevertheless, he believes that when one has made up their mind to venture into business, armed with the right attitude and self confidence, entrepreneurship becomes a thrilling undertaking as opposed to a source of stress.
To an entrepreneur, their job could be both rewarding and satisfying, although risks and tradeoffs are also to be expected along the way. Accordingly, this entrepreneur likened his job as a roller coaster. There have been times when his efforts have been greatly rewarded. At other times however, one feels, according to David, as if they have hit a brick wall. No matter how hard one tries to ensure that their business strategies are compatible with the situations in the market, one only end up a frustrated. Lucky for him, he has found out that the best business decisions that he has ever made are those borne out of the hard times. Furthermore, he has managed to live my dream; that of doing something that he really enjoys, while at the same time also realising an income out of it.
Asked about the advice that he could give to aspiring entrepreneurs, David reiterated that entrepreneurship is a calling, not something that one stumbles upon by mistake. Also, one should expect to get frustrated and discouraged from time to time. This however should not discourage them, because the best entrepreneurs realises their potential at a time of crisis.
From the interview with the entrepreneur that this writer engaged, it emerged that entrepreneurship has more to do with not just the identification of a viable business opportunity, but also an evaluation of the same to se if it is viable. Accordingly, entrepreneurs are quick to seize opportunities that they deem as viable. In this regard, the entrepreneur that this writer interviewed had managed to turn his passion into a business opportunity. This entrepreneur may therefore be regarded as self-driven seeing that a lack of capital was not a hindrance to his venturing into business. In addition, the entrepreneur has relied on the advice of others to make it in business, I addition to his own personal experience in his earlier business. At the conclusion of the interview, the entrepreneur advises aspiring young entrepreneur to expect a roller coaster experience in entrepreneurship, but nevertheless advises them not to give up, saying that entrepreneurs achieves the most during turbulent economic times.
Cohen, W. A., 2005, The entrepreneur and small business problem solver. London: Wiley.
Cooper, A. C., 2006, Entrepreneurial strategies: new technologies in emerging markets.
Hisrich, R. D., Peters, M. P., & Dean, A.,2005, Entrepreneurship. Burr Ridge, IL: Irwin McGraw Hill
Timmons J., & Pinelli, S., 2003, New Venture Creation. (6th edition). Boston: McGraw Hill.
Personal learning goals
By undertaking this interview with an entrepreneur, this writer intended to fulfil several personal learning goals. To start with, it was the intention of the writer to assess how entrepreneurs identify and evaluate opportunities. In addition, there was the need by the writer to examine the pitfalls of opportunity identification by entrepreneurs, in addition to the various handicaps that they faced to sustain their operations. In this regard, it will be the intention of the writer to explore how entrepreneurs assess business opportunities and risks.
The definition of entrepreneurship that this report shall assume is that supported by Cohen (2005), who has defined entrepreneurship as risk and responsibility assumption with regard to the development and execution of business strategy (p. 11). The analysis of the information obtained from the interview shall be the competitive advantage and business model that the entrepreneur in question has adopted.
- Let us start by you telling us about yourself, prior to venturing into your business.
- Other than your passion for fine art is there one particular role model that you looked up to as you were growing up, and who could have influence your choice of career?
- Who influenced your career decision?
- Are there entrepreneurs in your family?
- Would you say that your educational background, in addition to your role model, helped you make the decision to become an entrepreneur?
- Prior to your joining college, did you have any business venture?
- Before embarking on your current business, had you received any raining on sales and marketing?
- What were the circumstances that led you to entrepreneurship?
- Having identified an opportunity, how did you asses it with respect to the fundamental elements for business success?
- How much was your initial capital?
- After you had been up-and running, how long did it take before your busies could break even?
- What in hindsight, could you view as the strengths behind you venture? Weaknesses?
- Have there been demanding trade offs or conflicts that you have had to face in you venture?
- Have there been demanding trade offs or conflicts that you have had to face in you venture?
- What has enabled you to keep going thus far?
- Reflecting back, what, in your own opinion, are the most fundamental skills, concepts, know-how and attitudes that you might have required to sustain your business thus far? -How do you anticipate sustaining your business in five years time?
- To most people, being an entrepreneur is a job laden with stress. From your own experiencing, is this the case? How would entrepreneurship compare with say, working for a multinational company?
- As an entrepreneur, would you say that your job is satisfying and rewarding? Have there been risks, trade-offs and rewards along the way?