e2 Principles -3
Gatekeepers are created not born. They are created in the minds of those who in their misguided folly believe their must be some hurdle or test, some block they must surpass or negotiate before they are able to get to what they believe they are lacking to aid them in pursuit of their ultimate dream or goal. Surely any goal worthy of their desire cannot be so simple to attain that they would be able to do so without aid from some outside source.
In this respect the many who fail to embark on their intended journey en route to enterprise or creativity heaven, due to what they believe are lack of sufficent resources, namely money, are much like Dorothy and her cohorts in Oz, who after their travails and deceptions on the way to see the huckster passing himself off as a wizard, finally reach the point of realisation that all they ever needed – in her case to return to Kansas, simply be clicking her heels – was within their grasp all along, all they need have done was think more laterally, be prepared to sweat it, dig a bit deeper and critically, believe in themselves.
The self fulfilling irony is that while the individual sets out in earnest pursuit of what they believe they lack, the harder that goal becomes to attain, the more they become convinced they are deficient in the means to achieve their ultimate goal. Not to be discouraged they continue to use all the energy they can muster and what little fiscal resource they do have in the near futile effort to convince third parties that do or at least claim to possess the much sought after prize (money) that it should be put at their disposal with the off chance that the non existent/nascent enterprise might make it big and deliver a handsome return.
With the access points to The Great Enterprise Highway being many and well signposted it comes as no surprise that the huge throngs who dream of striking out on their own find their way there. As with the crocodiles that lie in wait along the banks of the rivers in the Serengeti for the annual arrival of the teeming herds of Wildebeest, these hordes of starry eyed hopefuls, dreamers, wantrepreneurs, and desperados attract natural predators.
Among these predators of which there are several, are the type with which we are concerned; whom, while in some cases cunning and deceptive, for the most part do not act in an overtly predatory manner, they have no need, for the simple reason that with very little prompting their prey actively seeks them out and insists with their every fibre that they be allowed to enter what they believe are the hallowed sanctums the gatekeepers stand guard over.
You see this type of predator is the worst kind, because their prey is in actual fact our culture, ie the way we do things, which as you know is driven by what we think, and our thoughts, our thoughts are the surface layer of what we believe!
This way of thinking – there must be winners, losers, an elite hierarchy granting limited access to scarce resources – runs deep within our culture generally. How it affects the enterprise realm, is the systematic erosion of what should form the basis of the creative output process at the macro cultural level, this being the initiative, resourcefulness, collaboration, innovation, critical thinking based behaviour of those seeking to enter and make an impact on the enterprise arena and society more generally, all terms that encapsulate the spirit of enterprise and by definition the entrepreneur.
With the effect being an enterprise culture that does the exact opposite of what it is supposed to do, by making the singleminded pursuit of fiscal resource via over-populated, inefficient routeways the chief activity of those seeking to gain a foothold in commercial markets.
The purveyors of these cultural protocols are legion and their presence ubiquitous across the enterprise landscape. The one inescapable fact that looms so large but never seems to be picked up is the miniscule number of the personages that make up their number who have anything like first hand or direct executive experience of starting or managing a real business.
In the not too distant past they could easily have been divided into two distinct categories, now however they have morphed with the protocols of one having had a major influence over the other.The two categories are what i’ll term ‘traditional’ and ‘Silicon Valley’.
Traditional is typified by central government agencies such as the Arts Council or UKTI and large national charities that distribute endowments e.g NESTA – their modus operandi is to make funding available in the form of awards or prizes whereby the applicant is required to firstly meet the often stringent criteria set by the body (?) – who on earth decides on what this criteria should be anyway, Ive never once heard of their being any open/public consultation on this – and secondly subject themselves to the application process which are often so arduous as to deter most sane people from starting the process and causing a significant number of those who do to give up before concluding. Maybe Ive missed the point and this is their undisclosed method for identifying those with sufficent mettle to make it in the rough tough world of business?
Silicon Valley has spawned a deadly virus that has lead to an even greater distortion of Britain’s (and probably the global) enterprise scene than those in the traditional category. The late 90’s thru present day spread of activities that have become lore for a generation and include pitching, business plan writing, dens, tanks, prizes and competitions, have made for arguably good television – ratings if not content – but have done irreparable damage as far as the perception of what enterprise is, its realities and its capacity to positively affect the lives of business owners and their communities. The Sillycon Valley Delusion is so all pervasive and endemic that I view it as a major obstacle to our enterprise culture attaining its own identity, establishing a footing and trajectory towards a trading base capable of achieving sustainable growth.
The common denominator in these damaging factors is that they persist in reinforcing the widely held belief that to be successful you must be chosen, selected, voted, spotted, saved and or blessed by a wand brandishing, cheque waving individual or group of individuals on a panel, committee or audience, and that this is the only means by which it can happen for you, and should you be so lucky to have it happen to you, it validates who you are by way of your overall worth/self worth and social standing, and should you fail, it is a declaration of you not only not being star material, but more generally not being cut from the right cloth or having what it takes to make it.
Our culture in the UK more than anywhere else is riven with these social structures, stereotypes and mythology, which are upheld with alarming consistency and with equal measure via the media, well meaning but slow moving socio-cultural institutions, less benign elements and the crushing acquiescence and conformity of the prevailing social order.
The hallmark of the true entrepreneur is their willingness and aptitude for starting things where they can see the opportunity for something to happen, regardless or very often in spite of the prevailing norms, available resource base or current circumstances. The commonly used term is ‘bootstrapping’ a term ironically derived from America, first coined to describe the entreprenurial efforts of those who had been hit hard by The Great Depression and had to cobble together their enterprises with little or no finances, literally pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. It points to a quality, a characteristic, an indomitable spirit, the traits of the survivor.
A well known fact about companies that are started and continue to run on the principles that underpin the bootstrapping approach, is that they survive and thrive through good and bad periods, far outlasting the companies that are started with money obtained during periods when credit is easily obtained.
At the e2Advisory our intention is to bring about the widespread adoption of e2 principles, principles which provide a firm foundation for e2 enterprise culture an approach we believe fundamentally alters the psyche, beliefs and behaviour of those who subscribe and participate, opening a whole new vista of options for individuals seeking to capitalise on the opportunities arising out from the interconnectedness afforded by the internet, plus the creation and resourcing of enterprises and development of the skills required to manage them.
e2 enterprise culture is predicated on the design and implementation of products and services that serve as systemic gestalts, based on the methodologies and ethos of bootstrapping, meaning anyone with the willingness to be active, and contribute can participate and become a stakeholder.
In conclusion: if you are in anyway involved in the development of the enterprise culture in your region or community it is crucial to retain as sacrosanct the elimination of ‘the gatekeeper’ in any shape or form from the thinking, processes and structures instituted and under no circumstances permit any personages or practices of this nature to encroach upon any aspect of the ecosystem you create.