After interviewing a sample of new entrepreneurs, young people willing to start their own business and consolidates business men and women, here we want to summarize some of the results and statements we can get from all the interviews.
Motivation and factors involved in entrepreneurship
Most of the people interviewed, pointed out that the main factor for start their own business was the self attitude but also very common they pointed out that it was the possibility of working on your own or developing your own idea, and that environment (including family and friends support) has a lot to do with it.
Other answers were that inspiration came from an event or an institution, from the team work they were developing or even for the necessity of getting some income and a way of life.
The role of University
Here the answers and opinions were different from ones to others. This has a lot to do with the contact they had with their University staff or the facilities they could access. Most of time it is not a problem of non-existing resources or opportunities but a matter of lack of information about what really exists.
In general, University role is poor or limited. They pointed out that they got the theory or methodology but not real knowledge on how to do things in the real life. At least, it was useful to get the idea of how to transform theory into practice.
For some of them, however, University role was crucial and necessary, giving them the opportunity of getting free courses, scholarships, stimulation, contacts, long-term partnerships … and sometimes University stimulated the entrepreneur to go over the “classic” career path.
Some of the people interview could say some examples of innovative training, in all the countries involved and other initiatives abroad. In general terms, they talked about seminars, awards, some specific university programs, simulation and role- playing games, big events,… for example, we can mention here the Social Impact Award Vision SUMMITS in Austria, startup weekends, Instituto IDDEAS, Lean business development…
Moreover, many of the entrepreneurs go a step further and proposed different initiatives to do training and learning more innovative and engaging: summer camps, real experiences with entrepreneurs at classrooms, laboratory of entrepreneurs…
The principal objectives for this were “teaching through thinking” and create the “entrepreneurship spirit”.
They talked deeply about different initiatives (from university, schools or other public institutions or private sector) they have attended and that helped them to start their business. Here we have mostly events and awards.
With events, forums and seminars they could make contacts, get a clear idea of what they wanted to do, get inspired, get some sponsors, get in contact with mentors or complete the team working on the idea.
They also talked about awards. This can be very useful for different reasons as well: first, it is an opportunity to clearly develop the idea or at least a push to get a final prototype. And more over, this can lead to a monetary prize or other advantages and benefits.
Apart from this, they also pointed out Coworking spaces, collaborative and associative movements, accelerators or different university incubators or programs that help entrepreneurs, such as Entrepreneurship School in Greece.
The only negative aspect here is the general feeling that all this initiatives are decentralized and need some king of “order” to guaranty their continuity.
Networking, Coworking, incubators
When talking about networking in general, opinions were divided, as sometimes entrepreneurs feel that yes, networks in their country exist and are really helpful, but others feel they are small or not well connected, for example.
The general opinion for all the countries is that networks exist. Here we don’t have any doubt. And this is another source of help for entrepreneurs as you can get synergies and contacts and help from other people or institutions, and different resources from space to mentoring. Going further, networks in entrepreneurship are as air to breath.
Bur sometimes, these networks are seen still not big enough and with no clear collective effort or guidance.
For Coworking spaces, the feeling was quite similar. The general feeling was that they are quite useful as they give a productive environment and a lot of benefits such as support from others, synergies, contact, space… they are seen as a “different” working space that provides more goals and connections to its users.
But here again, some negatives aspects raised: they are quite useful primarily in early stages, or they are a good option but first should come incubators, or they give you less privacy or limitation in schedules. Here again, the feeling about the necessity to be promoted.
Talking about incubators, the feeling was similar, although we can see that experience with incubators is not so common among the people interviewed, or at least they provided not so constructed opinions.
The general feeling again is as a helpful tool. But some negative aspects here worth to be mention:
- They need to become more valuable. There is still a lot of improvement to do in the field of incubators.
- They need to adapt to specific condition and situation of the different businesses and entrepreneurs.
- They need to go closer to accelerators than to Coworking spaces, if not, lines between incubators and Coworking spaces are not really clear, and they should be different entities.
- Incubator need to be focus to go to action, as sometimes it is difficult to pass from paper to the real world.
And related to this, we can mention some tools they use or have used that were useful for them as well: Trello, pixabay, gmail, trial and error methodology, design thinking… and other soft skills.
Fundraising and financial aspects
Here we had some good advices that rose from the different experiences of tour entrepreneurs related directly with money and financial issues:
- Don’t start before having clients. Then, go for the money.
- Don’t ask for money before you get a prototype of your product you can try first.
- You need to calculate as accurate as possible the initial investment before asking for money.
We have here a big variety of opinions, depending most of the time of the country of origin of our entrepreneur. In general terms they were able to point out lots of different types of fundraising and financial possibilities and they stated that all of them exist in their countries. So we have here a variety of financial options: banks, sponsorships, public grants, competitions, public funds…
These are some opinions that we need to consider:
- Depending on the economic environment, they are pushed to select ones instead of others or even try to find financial opportunities abroad. This is the case for example of Greece, where banks are not really popular due to not stable economic conditions.
- Entrepreneurs know there are innovative financial initiatives that are consolidating against traditional ones. But here the feeling is that conditions should be really clear if you don’t want to go in problems.
- Although not many of our entrepreneurs pointed out, there is always the FFF option (family, friends and fools). Here only 2 of the people we interviewed talked about this, which can sound really poor.
- Banks are the most popular option in most of the Spanish cases, but here again there are negative aspects as guarantees that are needed.
- Some general feeling: getting informed and knowing all the options is really time consuming and although there are lots of possibilities, conditions don’t really often meet expectations or needs.
Needs that have to be covered
Here, opinions where really popular and entrepreneurs talked deeply about this. On the one hand they talked about some soft skills that need to be developed or stimulated that we can resume as entrepreneur mindset through education. There is the need of training people and society in general to be more open minded to entrepreneurship, so we all could see this as another real and serious option against careers.
Also motivation and mentoring were really important and other issues such as support from family, personal advice, more information, cooperation or getting a good team.
On the other hand, we had some other issues such as fundraising, stable fiscal and legal context, government support, development of private sector.
There was a general feeling here again about the need of centralize information and facilities, probably through a big institution or initiative.