What is enterprise?
I have been teaching business for the last 13 years, and I have still to acquire the perfect definition of business enterprise from students.
In the past, when I have posed this question “What is enterprise?” and asked students to carry out internet research, I have invariably got back a mish-mash of definitions which managed to make the link between providing goods/services and profit. Some students were able to expand on this and provide examples, but often failed to embrace the real essence of business enterprise.
Using my Enterprise Hand I have developed a way of explaining how I interpret enterprise, and whilst others may disagree with this interpretation, it provides an alternative definition when asking “What is enterprise?”
The Enterprise Hand
I divide my definition of enterprise into two sections – The first section relates to the qualities an individual needs to possess in order to be a successful entrepreneur, and the second section relates to the process the entrepreneur needs to go through in order to be successful in an enterprising venture.
Behind every successful business venture, there is someone with the determination to succeed. With self-belief, they can develop a set of entrepreneurial qualities:
Ideas – The first quality is about actually having an imagination to come up with new ideas that have potential to fill a gap in the market.
Vision – The second quality is about having a vision, being able to see the end goal and believing in the eventual success of the idea.
Focus – The third quality is about having the focus to put the ideas into fruition, and not getting easily distracted by external influences.
Commitment – The fourth quality is about being committed to the idea, and the willingness and belief to see it through even when faced with uncertainty and negativity from external sources.
Confidence – The final quality is about having the confidence and self-belief to put oneself ‘out there’, to launch a product or idea and to keep believing in it, even in the face or rejection and criticism.
Enterprise occurs when an entrepreneur has the confidence and commitment to follow their vision, and the focus and determination to the see their idea become a product/service in reality.
The Enterprise Process
Behind every successful product/service launch, there is a process that has been followed in order to ensure that the enterprise project has every chance of success:
Concept – The first stage is the enterprise process is about conceptualising the entrepreneur’s ‘idea’ into a viable product/service. At this stage, market research will help to identify the target audience for the product/service.
Planning – The second stage is about planning the product/service: design, production, what the finished product/service will look like, where and how it will be launched.
Developing & testing – The third stage is about developing the product/service: the prototypes, testing with focus groups, refining, re-testing until the final product/service is ready for the general public.
Promotion – The final stage in the enterprise process is the promotion of the product/service: marketing, advertising, “getting the product out there”. Promotion is important, especially with the influence of social media and other technologies today, if people are talking about it that is normally a good sign.
Whilst there may be additional entrepreneurial qualities and stages in the enterprise process, for the purpose of using a hand as the point of discussion, the aspects above provide a holistic view of how I interpret enterprise.
Pippa Jennings is head of computer science and business, Cardinal Wiseman Catholic Technology College.