Posts Tagged ‘entrepreneurs’

Calling all Aussie international businesswomen

July 27, 2012

I’m currently involved in a really promising Honours research project here at the University of Melbourne, and I’d love to get you involved.

Sarah Gundlach and I are surveying Aussie businesswomen on behalf of a multi-government network called Women in Global Business (they’ve grown in just over a year to more than 1000 members).

We are exploring what motivates these women to engage in international business. We ask about where they are targeting and why. We ask them to identify any barriers they have encountered to expansion and the networks they have used. We also explore aspects of the entrepreneurial mindset.  It’s the first study of this scale in Australia (and one of the first in the world).

It will not only give us a sense of what Aussie businesswomen are up to, but also what could drive more international adventurousness, and how organisations like WIGB can help (via lobbying, networking, info sharing etc).

So, this is a call to any women who would like to share their views with us. Click on image below (or here) to tell us about your experience engaging in business across borders.

Please pass it on to any eligible businesswomen you know.

And there’s a chance to win a funky laptop bag for one lucky survey participant.

I’ll be reporting back on our findings towards the end of the year too.

Finally, WIGB are currently doing a roadshow of events with great speakers.  Click on this pic below to see where and when (and if you’re at the Melbourne event look out for me!).

A little yuletide conversation

December 23, 2011

I’ve broken my blogging silence by voicing my opinion on the woes of Xmas retail over at the fancy Conversation website.

It kicks off like this:

The lead up to Christmas inevitably draws our attention to the actions and performance of retailers. This December there have been very few tales of cheer.

It gets better! Read on here.

It’s Short-O-Matic

January 20, 2011

Just over two years ago I posted about the potential of (and possible pitfalls associated with) launching an online design-your-own boardshorts operation (a la T-shirt phenomenon Threadless).

http://www.shortomatic.com/index.php/all.htmlI was intrigued today when I stumbled upon a magazine mention of just such an entrepreneurial endeavour.  A mob out of California (now that shouldn’t surprise) called Shortomatic have been building up a portfolio of user- and guest designer-provided shorts through a pretty nifty website.

They have a number of similar elements to Threadless, although users cannot vote on prospective designs (instead the firm is the complete gatekeeper once artists submit).  There is a revenue stream for successful designers of up to $1000 per design ($5 a pair up to the maximum run of 200), and a feel-good pledge to donate a similar amount to a charity.

Contrary to our discussions/expectations, all the materials are sourced and stitched together in the US (rather than China), which does push the pricing a bit higher than I expected ($US a pair).

The operation also suffers from a pretty slow turnaround from order-to-shipping – 21 days or so – which would seem to narrow the potential customer base a little (to those explicitly seeking a rare item of clothing).  Again, you might argue this is a move away from Threadless’ model, as the t-shirt vendor’s speedy delivery (obviously built on an ability to print and warehouse shirts confident of sales from their much bigger customer base) allows for pretty spontaneous purchase, while Threadless’ policy of limited runs also encourages a “buy while you can” attitude.

Nevertheless, this looks like a pretty neat play at this considerably smaller and tougher fashion segment.  Again it does beg the question what other design-your-own, crowdsourced interfaces can we foresee (remembering we’ve also looked at custom bicycles on here too)?

The very quotable CK Prahalad

August 13, 2010

As I mentioned back in April, the fields of strategic management and international business research and teaching lost an important scholar with the death of C.K.Prahalad.

Management magazine Strategy+Business recently published an excellent interview with Prahalad compiled during conversations in 2009.

I typically try to add some value on this blog, but in this instance I’ll just share some of the fantastic insights the interview includes and urge you to read through it yourself in its entirety:

C.K.Prahalad on research:

“A lot of times, research tends to start with the methodology. I prefer to start with a problem that’s of interest and apply whatever methodology is appropriate.”

“To me, the problems of greatest interest are things that you cannot explain with the current prevailing theory.”

“We had to stay constantly focused on weak signals. Each weak signal was a contradictory phenomenon that was not happening across the board. You could very easily say, “Dismiss it, this is an outlier, so we don’t have to worry about it.” But the outliers and weak signals were the places to find a different way to think about the problem.”

“If you look historically at the strategy literature, starting with Alfred D. Chandler Jr.’s Strategy and Structure: Chapters in the History of the Industrial Enterprise [MIT Press, 1962], the most powerful ideas did not come out of multiple examples. They came out of single-industry studies and single case studies. Big impactful ideas are conceptual breakthroughs, not descriptions of common patterns. You can’t define the “next practice” with lots of examples. Because, by definition, it is not yet happening.”

On the nature of entrepreneurship:

“Having aspirations greater than your resources. That’s universal. Whether you’re Sam Walton or Narayana Murthy [founder of Infosys Technologies Ltd.], if your aspirations are not greater than your resources, you’re not an entrepreneur. For large companies to be entrepreneurial, they have to create aspirations greater than their resources. You can call it “strategy as stretch” or “strategic intent.””

On the lack of discipline (my term not his) in strategic management writing:

“Indeed, the biggest impediment in the growth and strategy literature is that, unlike in the financial literature, there are no standardized terms. There is no organizing thesis and principle.”

As I said, there’s a whole lot more there (especially some insights into the academic journey he took from India to Michigan).  Feel free to provide your favourites from his pearls of wisdom.

Entrepreneurship from the beachside

June 9, 2010

This interview with Travelfish founder offers some nice insights for those of you/us thinking that building a career around lying on a South-Eastern Asian beach would sure beat winter in Melbourne (feel free to substitute your wet and windy hometown here).

Stuart McDonald certainly seems to have built a nice life of running an informative travel website for several prominent countries north of Australia.

I presume many of his site visitors (the folks who are providing the click through revenue) come from down under and other Western nations. But as the interaction is web-based the visitors don’t really care where he is.

His suppliers (i.e. the content providers) and advertisers/clients (the hotels, travel companies etc) are in the six countries his site covers. He has made the very judicious decision to base himself closer to these folk. This reduces his overheads dramatically (as cost of living is so much lower) and makes his revenue requirements much lower. He presumably can also deal with any dramas much more quickly (espcially if they require a physical presence) then if he was sitting in an office in Sydney or Melbourne.

There are other aspects of strategic importance here (such as the decision to focus on a regional niche, the possibility of considerable early mover advantages from network effects, and the scope to extend the model to other locales users identify).

It sounds like a pretty cosy life. Now, can someone think of a version for the rest of us to pursue? 🙂