“Why didn’t I come up with this idea?” I don’t know how often I have already been asking myself this rather rhetorical question. Most of the time it pops up after I read an article about another successful app creator who is now being seduced by a bunch of investors eager to buy his app for a few million euros. Obviously it is not enough to just come up with an idea. Were it that that easy, wouldn’t we all be successful entrepreneurs right now?
A few students of Maastricht University organised a conference on 21 November on the occasion of the Global Entrepreneurship Week. Entrepreneurship is a word you hear quite often these days. “I’m an entrepreneur” – it sounds glamorous, fancy, exquisite. You are your own boss. It sounds like success.
But the reality is harsh. Nine out of 10 entrepreneurs are doomed to fail. That’s why the organisers decided to host this year’s conference under the motto: What does it take to beat the odds?
Testing, adapting, testing again
Once you have an idea and vision, it’s important that you don’t just lean back by the time you have completed your business plan. “You need to get out of the building and expose your business model to the market as soon as possible”, argued Vidar Andersen, a startup entrepreneur. This involves that you constantly change your strategy and that you never stop experimenting and adapting, something that is already taught at universities in the U.S. but not so much in Europe yet.
You also need an open-minded attitude. As Jo Martens, founder of the digital service design agency Nascom pointed out, it’s important to look for people who are not like you, to constantly challenge yourself and to be eager to learn. You have to be willing to take risks and overcome the fear of being judged.
You do not become and entrepreneur with the goal of becoming rich. This is something on which all the speakers agreed. Money is only a by-product. What’s important is your vision, because in the end this is the only thing that will provide you with the energy you will need to move on even when your resources are limited and you find yourself in a crisis.
Getting back to my starting question, it certainly does take more than an idea to beat the odds. There is no strict formula for success when dealing with entrepreneurship. But I guess one thing that I really took away from this conference is that, like many things in life, the path to entrepreneurship begins with you.
You are the first person who has to be convinced by your vision and start believing in it. And once you took that first step on this seemingly endless path, you can only try. As Samuel Beckett once said: “Ever tried, ever failed. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
By Zoë Perry
Photos: Isidoros Maskalaris