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Enterprise in Action: A Guide To Entrepreneurship by Peter Lawrence

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Chapter 5

Biography and Capability

The most important determinant of success for anyone starting a company is what they did before. This is the judgement suggested by the reasonably large and diverse sample of companies that I have examined prior to writing this book.

While the phrase ‘what they did before’ may sound nebulous, I can give this a clear focus. The concern is with personal assets that are directly relevant to the launching and developing of a particular enterprise.

Some of this may come from study, formal knowledge acquisition and qualifications. But most of it will concern knowing how a particular industry works, and this will be based on experience rather than on formal study, and will rest especially on work experience.

To have and have not

Just consider one positive example of work experience that is bound to impact positively on entrepreneurial success. This is the case of the founder of Esterform, discussed in Chapter 4. After leaving school Mark Tyne:

  • Worked as a lab technician.
  • Got a chemistry degree part-time.
  • Worked for a mid-sized company, PET Plus.
  • Worked for Shell and for Alcan/Pechiney.

In these earlier roles he had become very familiar with the material (PET), its uses and applications, and with selling it to corporate customers and tweaking it for their needs. So he is well connected in the industry before he goes solo. And he has got to know the two people who are to become his partners – one in finance, the other an engineer.

What a hand to play. ...

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