Too much focus can hinder entrepreneurs

Jan 14 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The very qualities that can make you a good entrepreneur can end up hampering your business further down the line, a leading academic has suggested.

One of the biggest strengths of successful entrepreneurs is their ability to take an idea, fly with it and then stick with it through thick and thin, the study by Simon Parker, professor of economics and entrepreneurship at Durham Business School, has suggested.

But this also means entrepreneurs can end up being less than receptive to other ideas and suggestions – the constant “noise” from their market - and so may be unable to change tack as effectively as they should.

"They will believe their own beliefs very strongly but they will tend to be less willing to adjust those beliefs when they get information from the market,” he told Management Issues.

The study, Learning about the Unknown: how fast do entrepreneurs adjust their beliefs?, was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and questioned 700 entrepreneurs.

It found that, because they were so focused on their businesses, they were often not as aware about what was going on around them as might be thought.

"Many of the entrepreneurs had a very strong reliance on prior beliefs. This can be valuable in setting up a business, but it can also become a liability in the long run,” cautioned Parker.

It made no difference whether you were a male or female entrepreneur, but younger business adventurers were often more receptive, he found.

This could well be because they had yet “to build up an unassailable intellectual position that they would back at all costs”, Parker argued.