Schumpeter’s Century: Cornwall and The State Dept View of Entrepreneurship

Brian, over at Schumpeter’s Century, points out a great post by Jeff Cornwall. Cornwall describes some of the efforts the State Department is making on the entrepreneurship policy front.

Jeff paints a vivid picture of the ‘choose your own entrepreneurship policy quiz’ that is hustling. Full of questions on incubators, clean tech, and elephant chasing by offering job based incentives. Really kind of amazing.

Jeff asks us to choose ‘non of the above’ and sum’s it all up nicely with a Hayek quote.



Is the Entrepreneurial Generation Willing? Belmont U

Really solid post from Dr. Jeff Cornwall of Belmont University on whether more students were choosing entrepreneurship given the recent recession. There are some amazing things in his post given that Belmont is a small, private university and it underscores the importance of strong entrepreneurship programs with hands on faculty and effective entrepreneurship centers:

Each year we usually see about 15-20 new businesses started by our undergraduate students.  Mind you, they do this in the midst of taking classes and often while also working part-time.

This year we have seen a tripling of new practicing student entrepreneurs.  We went from 18 last year to 54 this year.  Keep in mind that these students are not just our majors.  They are coming from all across our campus from many different majors.

In my mind that is amazing. Read his entire post as it is well worth it and inspiring.

Is the Entrepreneurial Generation Willing? – The Entrepreneurial Mind.

Now is Time to get ‘Barbarian’ on Your Competitors

When I was in college at U of M, one of my favorite movies to watch with my housemates was Conan the Barbarian. picture-611 Our favorite line was when the Mongol General asks what is the best thing in life, one soldier answers incorrectly and then Conan (played by Arnold Scwarznegger) responds, “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women.”

I feel this way about my entrepreneurial adversaries (though I don’t subscribe to ‘the lamentation of the women’ part — perhaps I’ll change that to ‘the lamentation of their vendors.’)

But it really is a good time to be crushing your enemies in the commercial space. In the last few weeks I have begun to notice a sentiment of resignation over 2008.

Most people I talk with just want the year to end quietly (many are staying home for the holidays). I have been on the phone a lot the last few weeks regarding my startup and pushing hard to get as much done as possible as we close out our beta offering (the 2008 fantasy football season). We have come across much malaise.

Apparently, I am not the only one interested in pouncing on the marketplace right now. Jeff Cornwall cites others who feel now is a great time to go on the offensive (‘to crush your enemies, see them driven before you….’) while others are licking their wounds or hiding out.

From Cornwall’s post:

There are many new opportunities out there. Don’t believe only the bad news you keep hearing about the business climate. Because for those willing to take the plunge, there are fewer competitors in the market and the cost of doing business is going down.

So if you are a new venture, keep pushing hard, and if you are considering a launch, don’t wait. Many of your adversaries are most weak and tired (both physically and psychologically) and waiting to be crushed.

“Belmont U Startup” Gets Series A Financing

Jeff Cornwall, Prof of Entrepreneurship and writer of The Entrepreneurial Mind blog, provides an update on one of his former MBA students. From Jeff’s blog:

Congratulations for Pathfinder Therapeutics, Inc. (PTI), a medical device company focused on the development of “surgical GPS” systems for the abdomen, announced that it has closed on a Series A financing. Everyone in Nashville is excited that this company will be growing right here where the technology was born.

We at Belmont are particularly proud about this announcement as Dr. Jim Stefansic, COO of Pathfinder, is an alumn of our Massey School MDA program! It was a pleasure to be able to work with Jim on this project in its early stages while he was a student in my classes.

Great to see that students are taking the knowledge gained on campus (not to mention the great talent, such as Jeff Cornwall) in order to launch new firms. Congrats to PTI and Belmont U.

More Business Plan Angst

Last week this blog discussed the changing nature of business plans (a la Tim Berry) and whether business plan competitions truly teach the students anything about really using the business plan as a tool.

Belmont Prof and blogger Jeff Cornwall investigates focus on business plans in a great post/reaction to BusinessWeek’s recent entrepreneurship special issue. I had not even seen the issue, but judging from Cornwall’s write up, I may not have missed much. From Cornwall’s post,

It is as if we are telling aspiring entrepreneurs that once they unlock the secrets of the business plan, the world of entrepreneurial wealth will come pouring out at them.

Sorry, but this is just not true.

On the other hand, there is now a debate raging as to whether we should even teach entrepreneurs about business plans. a growing number of experts now fundamentally question whether business plans even matter. It seems that some data suggests that business plans have no impact on the overall success of entrepreneurial ventures.

All of this — and I mean both sides of this debate — is missing the point.

Are business plans all you need to know to unlock the door to success? Of course not.

Is writing a business plan a complete waste of time? Also, not true.

So why do we teach about business plans? It is because they are a way to help organize what can be a complex and overwhelming array of issues. It is because it forces us to integrate our marketing plans, or operating plans and our financial plans into one, coherent story. It is because we need to put it all down on paper to make sure that we have thought of all of the important stuff that goes into a successful start-up. It is because business plans have become the standard for communicating about a business to those with money.

I have come to believe that unless you are really going out to raise serious funds from institutional/professional new venture investors, a formal business plan is unnecessary. Which underscores Cornwall’s questions on why so much focus is placed on writing business plans?

Belmont Entrepreneurship Program Wins Award

Belmont University in Tennessee, where Jeff Cornwall teaches and blogs out of, has just been named ‘model’ undergraduate entrepreneurship program by US Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Here is the blog post from Jeff. I don’t know much about the school or the program, but Jeff is one of the best writers out there on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship programs.