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BW Businessworld

Enterprise In Action

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Authored by researchers and professors of marketing and strategic management   from varied business schools and universities, Effectual Entrepreneurship  takes its title rather seriously. Streamlining and focusing on the salient aspects of establishing and sustaining a business, the book is designed to address the life cycle of an entrepreneur in a holistic, comprehensive manner and is self consciously ‘non-academic ‘ in its approach. In terms of form and appearance, the book is vibrant and largely interactive. The engaging montage of data, ideas, theory and advice may seem oversimplified at first, but in fact reinforces fundamental wisdom — analysing market forces, creating the right revenue and operation model, co-creating partnerships, equity and investment, dealing with VCs and business valuation — by factorising each phenomenon realistically and accessibly.  Ironically enough, the authors allude to how successful entrepreneurs often end up doing things differently from what they might have been taught at business schools

The book is divided in three parts: the first concentrates on becoming an entrepreneur, and what it entails, the second discusses putting the plan into effect and the third outlines the roadmap to follow once a venture has been successfully launched. In trying to get to the roots of ‘the science of entrepreneurship' and decode the ‘common logic' and principles that underlie the businesses of expert entrepreneurs, the authors replicate, debate and deliberate on a number of theoretical positions (held by academics and business authors alike) and draw references from a gamut of examples; from the practices of ownership during medieval feudalism to the gradually perfected business model of Stacy's Pita Chips.  The book quotes over 70 case studies—for instance, Google Trends, ICEHOTEL and Absolut, Ruth Owades— which are however cleverly interspersed throughout relevant chapters. Moreover, case analyses through diagrammatic representations and flow charts may, on the one hand, give readers the impression of observing a PowerPoint presentation on paper, yet this format cuts to the chase and renders essential, pragmatic lessons to be grasped in a definitive mode.  It could be argued that there is a certain amount of dilution that takes place with every case history by not focusing on a context-wise interpretation of each, but that can't the priority of a book that promises to deliver hands-on, ready to use knowledge, and does a good job on that front.

In a similar vein, the authors follow a refreshing approach whereby they introduce innovative terminology, the lemonade principle, the crazy quilt, patchwork principle etc, to talk about issue such as unexpected contingencies in business and creating markets through partnership. The re-packaging of concepts helps in so far as piquing the reader's interest and holding their attention longer. The whole exercise of creating business plans and business models is also reorganised to a great extent in the book.  The authors consider it a very important learning platform and go beyond just the ‘writing' aspect of the plan.  They talk about its value as a marketing tool, and therefore the need for potential entrepreneurs to address their audience which includes board members, customers, channel partners, supplies, appropriately by taking into account how value propositions differ with each and make their pitch accordingly. The book pays significant heed to the otherwise under-acknowledged subject of risk management in starting a business. The chapter on affordable loss clearly states the need to prepare for failure and thus why it is sensible to reasonable goals from limited means, to minimise risk.  All the arguments made in the book stem from the basic premise that entrepreneurs can ‘transform possibilities into opportunities' and that remains its motivational backbone.

Interestingly enough, after every topic discussed and explained in detail, there is a precise section called Takeaway throughout the book. The authors probably realise that everything finally boils down to what it means for the reader and thus skilfully condense information so that it can be put into practice by anyone with a business idea.  In the same spirit, it is safe to say that  Effectual Entrepreneurship  is a result-oriented, jargon free guide for existing and future entrepreneurs that systematically documents a wealth of information on all possible scenarios he/she might have or is likely to face on a start-up journey.