Howard Stevenson and his colleagues at Harvard Business School define entrepreneurship as “the process of creating or seizing an opportunity and pursuing it regardless of the resources currently controlled.” This approach, Stevenson maintains, has greatly contributed towards the success of entrepreneurs. He points out that entrepreneurs seek to use the minimum possible amount of all types of resources at every stage in their venture’s growth. These resources include human resources, financial resources, assets and a business plan. Rather than own the resources entrepreneurs need, they seek to control them, according to Stevenson.
Studies indicate that entrepreneurs with such an approach towards business substantially reduce the risk in pursuing opportunities.
1. Capital: Since the amount of capital required will be smaller, it will mitigate risk by reducing the financial exposure and the dilution of the founder’s equity.
2. Flexibility: Entrepreneurs are in a better position to commit and decommit quickly when they do not own a resource. The flexibility of business thus gained can be very useful to a firm, since it enables them to respond faster and reach decisions quickly. In addition to this, the entrepreneurial approach to resources allows strategic experiments, which means that ideas can be tried and tested without committing to the ownership of all assets and resources in the business. For example, it is wise to raise capital gradually as the need arises, otherwise one may end up spending it too early on wrong decisions. Inflexibility also results from committing permanently to a certain technology, software or management system.
3. Low Sunk Cost: The cost of closing down a firm or a venture will also be lower if the ownership of resources is less. If the up-front capital commitment is huge, abandoning such a project will also be very costly.
4. Costs: Fixed costs will be lower, which will have a positive affect on breakeven. Of course in that case variable cost may rise.
5. Reduced Risk: Apart from reducing risk in general, other risk events such as risk of obsolescence of resource are also lower. For example, biotechnology companies have used venture leasing as a way to supplement sources of equity financing.
One should not assume incorrectly that this approach means that a firm cannot afford to buy resources. The fact is that not having ownership has its own advantages and options in the form of flexibility of business and reduced risk. However, at the same time these decisions are very complex, and considerations such as tax implications of leasing vs. buying and other existing laws and regulations have to be thought of thoroughly and carefully.