Ask professor and Collegiate Entrepreneur Organization faculty adviser William Dougan to describe the entrepreneurial spirit and he will compare it to architecture and evangelism.
Dougan said it compares to architecture in the sense that business is often a design problem consisting of human relationships rather than glass and steel.
Also, evangelism in that a team leader must convince others to contribute to a goal with no evidence of a payout.
“An entrepreneur is someone who looks for pain or some problem in the world and then goes
about removing them by creating an organization,” Dougan said.
To form the base for an organization, Dougan said it comes down to making partnerships. He said it involves finding other people with needs and then offering assistance in exchange for their expertise.
“One other thing to consider is what you’re starting out with,” Dougan said. “Whether it’s skills or money you have to find an idea that is good for you and not just a good idea.”
Another hurdle for aspiring entrepreneurs is the fear of failure.
Dougan said he had a similar
feeling when he was a student and that it’s comforting to have a salary and to know where the money is coming from.
However, he said being an entrepreneur is like living as a hunter-gatherer because they share a certain amount of insecurity. Neither one knows what will happen when they wake up in the morning.
“The key is if you can get comfortable with the uncertainty of the future,” Dougan said. “Then you can welcome surprises and turn them around to your benefit.”
Dougan’s mentality is that when life gives you lemons, follow the Lemonade Principle.
Dougan said the mindset of a successful entrepreneur is to let the future be what it is and only
focus on what is directly controllable. His motto is, “fail small, fast.”
“Failure only happens when you have a goal and don’t reach it,” Dougan said. “I tell my students not to avoid failure, but to seek it and learn from it.”
Dougan compared this process to skiing moguls. The course can be a mystery but a prepared individual can react to almost any obstacle.
“The best solution to almost any situation is further learning, whether through failure or further research,” Dougan said.