The nature of entrepreneurs
Did you always wonder how entrepreneurial actions looks like in practice? Do successful entrepreneurs act differently than other people and if so what is the difference regarding their interaction with stakeholders, resource acquisition and legitimacy building? We see entrepreneurship as a rather dynamic and chaotic process in which entrepreneurs take a hands-on approach to achieve their goals. To answer this question we observed the successful Dutch entrepreneur Daan Weddepohl, who is the founder of Peerby an online platform that enables consumers to borrow the products they need within 30 minutes by asking around in their neighborhood.
Interacting with other stakeholders
We found out that entrepreneurs have a very hands-on and action oriented approach based on the trial and error principle. They seem to be socially embedded and interacting with a lot of different stakeholders. Depending on the stage of the company entrepreneurs need and acquire different kind of resources to develop their company and make it a success. Most entrepreneurs mainly use their network to acquire these resources. For most actions the factor gaining legitimacy is a requirement. Successful entrepreneurs use the concept of storytelling to catch the attention of other people, inspire them and gain the necessary legitimacy.
With the different stages of the company entrepreneurs need various resources to grow. During the first start-up phase, most technology startups need to build a good website to gain traction. In order to do so entrepreneurs need financial capital and human resources. A good way to attract capital is to join an existing program or institution, in the case of Peerby it was the program of Rockstart Accelerator. At the end of the mentioned accelerator program, a Demo Day was organized, where a lot of potential investors were present. Our investigated entrepreneur used this opportunity that was created by his network to find capital to proceed with his company
Besides this example most often entrepreneurs try to build a huge network, constantly reaching out to new people. Successful entrepreneurs always try to uses all kind of stakeholders in order to acquire resources. In our case, each time the entrepreneur needed a resource he tried to activate his network and if it does not work got in contact with other people. One good example can be to visit regularly networking events, with a clear goal in mind. For example, if you need a new web developer, try to attend a network event for web developers like a hackatron etc.
Entrepreneurs most often us different types of capital within their entrepreneurial habitus. They successfully use cultural capital to fit in and while succeeding also try to stand out with symbolic capital. This both leads to institutional reinforcement. Nevertheless it is also essential to stand out with symbolic capital which leads to institutional transformation. Second, entrepreneurs make use of all three activities. In particular we observed that entrepreneurs start with whatever is at hand and combine resources most often, but also use existing resources for new perspectives. The third factor are stories to legitimize resource acquisition and creating wealth by using stocks of resource and institutional capital.
All in all we found out that our observed entrepreneurs used different mechanism and techniques in order to become successful. We agree with the predominant statements in this field and observed that entrepreneurs apply different practices depending on the occasion. We hope that the results of our investigation add to the knowledge of entrepreneurial actions, which will help to develop better and more useful scholarly programs of entrepreneurship.
The study was conducted by Dimitri Haußmann and Hugo Ruiter, during the Master – Entrepreneurship program at the VU Amsterdam