Thursday, September 10, 2009

Increasing the Odds of Success

A fellow blogger recently pointed me to a study done by a couple of Harvard business professors (Gompers and Lerner) titled “Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship”. This study looked at the track record of first and second time Entrepreneurs creating a successful enterprise. (Success was defined as taking the start-up entity public.) The results of the study were chilling to say the least.

They found that first time Entrepreneurs only had a 22% chance of success and for the 78% who tried it again the Entrepreneur was only 23 % successful in their next venture. They also noted that to a certain degree “success breeds success” - the successful ones who tried a second venture were 34% likely to succeed.

This Harvard research and a companion study done by CIBC World Markets in 2005 suggested that successful ventures had a number of consistent characteristics that made them over achieve. These traits included: a) High Level of Education (2 of 3 Canadian Entrepreneurs have post secondary education), b) Extensive Use of Advisers (Service Professionals, Board Advisers, Board of Directors), c) Outsourcing Strategies (Companies focused on core competencies and outsourced other non-core functions), d) Technology Enablement (Companies utilized Web presence, CRM software to enhance and support customer interactions) and e) Focus on US and International Markets (Canada is only the starting point).

This is where the Ontario Commercialization Network (OCN) comes into play. Eight of the 13 centres have been funded with an Entrepreneur In Residence (EIR). These individuals are seasoned executives who have build, sold and turned around a number of ventures in their careers. The role is to “accelerate the path to commercialization” for these early stage companies.

EIR’s in the OCN all have a unique and individual style in advising their clients on "creating the organization's traction". Supported by Provincial, Federal and Private funds, EIR's across the province rely on a core set of resources to support their clients. These include 1) Education and Reference material, 2) Extensive network of contacts and practical experience, 3) Market Research, 4) Executive Coaching and Mentoring, 6) Assistance in building a Compelling & Focused story.

Entrepreneurs are the key to Ontario’s innovation agenda and are encouraged to sign up with the Commercialization centre in their region. We need to do all we can to increase their odds of "Stunning Success".

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