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Therefore, rather than talking about the Luck factor, we should start talking about the C-factor, where C stands for courage, the courage of trying! Of course, we will never know the stories about all those that tried and did not succeed. That is why the luck factor must be taken into consideration; trying will not guarantee success, but if you want to succeed you must try, and try hard!

Franco Marzo - Coaching e business development

Do you have the e-gene?

Back in 2013, I published, with the cooperation of Franco Angeli, a book entitled “I-factor – the gene of the entrepreneur – creating a business, lessons for managers” (in Italian entrepreneur starts with an “I” “Imprenditore”). The book contains 13 interviews with first and second generation entrepreneurs, some well-known, some less; some enjoying more international fame than others; men and women, some younger than others. The goal was to analyze the skills, qualities, characteristics and style of someone who creates a business. Thus the idea to identify this “e” factor and publicize it to anyone interested in this professional choice and to managers who are often called upon to share the same destiny.

Besides the introductory article we will also deal with:

- Entrepreneurial values

- The qualities: are entrepreneurs born or made?

- Key skills

- Percipience and pragmatism

- Better to be an entrepreneur or a manager?


But who is hidden behind this type of "homo economicus"? A cold and rational being or a man driven by passion and a vision of the future? Literature, in its broader sense, tends to portray successful people with a rather epical approach: leaders, explorers, pioneers, people with more or less adventurous genes. The entrepreneur often takes the shape of a hero. For some a positive hero, brave, resourceful, determined. For others a villain, a cynical and unscrupulous man who knows how to look after his own interests by taking advantage of favorable conditions or power. Therefore, in social imaginary, the entrepreneur is either an example to follow, or an enemy to fight.

I tried to select examples that would adequately reflect the definition of "ENTERPRISE" I found in a vocabulary: A difficult and important long term plana difficult and importantplan a difficult and importantplan. Just like crossing a desert or climbing a mountain. Success is never granted. We are perfectly aware of those who succeed, but we never think of the many who fail, give up or retreat. The myth of success often detracts attention from the path that needs to be travelled on, the necessary human qualities, the risks and contingencies that are encountered and must be overcome. For us, success is just a noun; a noun that means “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”, and an entrepreneur is someone who accomplishes his goals. But how does he do it?

Doing vs Being

The first point concerns “being”, that is what “we are”. Each one of us is something: man, woman, young, old, tall, short, beautiful, ugly, curious, dynamic, lazy etc. Being something, often affects the quality and ways of “doing”. Someone “tall” has better chances at basketball than working in a submarine. Studies on the  e -factor, the entrepreneur gene, suggest that success is more likely when “being” is closer to “doing”. The entrepreneur does not pretend, he doesn’t play-act, "he is" what "he is" without doubts or hesitation. It sounds obvious but it isn’t.

The entrepreneur accepts what he is including strengths and weaknesses. He questions and tries to improve only what he does, never what he is. At times I thought that entrepreneurs "are what they are", no questions about it. Psychologists and shrinks alike run the risk of wasting time with them. Entrepreneurs simply  "are" in spite of themselves ... their leadership is often unwitting. Which is not to say that they lack a strong personality. It simply means that their "being" is so fused with their "doing" that they appear as one. Perhaps one of the prerequisites to become an entrepreneur is this, to be able to perfectly superimpose what they do to what they are, in other words “do what you are”, and “be what you do”. I'll try to give an example. Giorgio Minarelli, Bologna’s King of engines with 10 million engines produced, was a very ambitious young man. He once confessed to me, joking of course, but not too much, that at 18 he felt a little depressed thinking that Alexander the Great at his age had already conquered Macedonia!  Minarelli did not like engines, to him "they could have been dolls" ... but he wanted to make a mark. Some call it ambition, but during the first big crisis for the Italian motorcycle industry, his “being” drove him to take immediate action:  "I wrote three letters to Honda, Suzuki and Yamaha, offering my cooperation to let them produce engines in Italy". Yamaha replied and soon formed a partnership, which resulted in the definitive sale of the company, but if you go on the Internet, next to the brand Yamaha, you will still find the Minarelli brand. He evidently made sure this would happen.


Another necessary condition, certainly not the only one, to be an entrepreneur is a positive attitude. All entrepreneurs "see the glass half full." For them the opportunities always outweigh the risks: they have an innate confidence! They trust their employees, clients, the market and their products. If it is true what they say about self-fulfilling prophecy, in which behavior, influenced by expectations, causes those expectations to come true, then entrepreneurs are definitely positive. Positive thinking is the first entrepreneurial condition, if you cannot think positively, then don’t even think of starting down the path of entrepreneurship, and if you have any doubts, deal with them before you start. The world has an exaggerated need of optimism, people are attracted to a positive spirit, they look for positive examples and are more willing to collaborate when a positive feeling is around them. The leadership exercised by orchestra conductors can be considered a form of "positive prejudice." They are absolutely certain that the musicians are good, that they know the part, love the music and love playing it. Positivity is essential when deciding to start a business. Who, in fact, would even think of climbing Mount Everest with failure at the back of their minds?



A business enterprise is first and foremost an initiative, something that was not there before, or that was there but wasn’t working. We are all aware that the force required to move a stationary vehicle is much greater than what is needed to impart an acceleration to an already moving one. We must overcome the initial immobility, and for that we need a powerful idea. Therefore, first locate the vehicle you want to start, set the goal and try a different path, one that no one else crosses, short, more comfortable. If you cannot find a more convenient way, then don’t start. Being driven by a spirit of initiative is no longer enough, we need to find a distinguishing factor, a real advantage, something that the public can find useful and attractive. It’s not necessarily about solving someone’s problem or meeting someone’s needs, but to have something different. In Weissman, the family business strategy and organization company I work with, we use the expression "be different or die". If you don’t offer anything different, do not start! A successful entrepreneur was telling me about dreams, to indicate that often, in mature markets such as ours, people no longer "need" anything, but are sensitive and attentive to everything that excites them and fosters their dreams. A spirit of initiative always needs something new. Be strict with yourself and perform a serious analysis of the market and your competitors, but do not overdo it. If your hope rests on quick success, forget it. An entrepreneur once told me his motto "ready, fire and aim." I thought he was wrong and had reversed the "aim" with "fire", but then he made clear to me the sense of the phrase. If you expect to find the ideal conditions before embarking on a business adventure, then you will never even start. Forget about doing it right, first time, it’s a trial and error affair. You fire, and then you observe what happens to the first attempt. Then you make the necessary adjustments and take the second shot and so on.   Moreover, we must remember that the market never stands still, it moves all the time and very quickly. A business enterprise is always work in progress, there is an initial idea, a strategy, a goal, but these must be constantly reviewed and modified. The process is always in motion, but the first move must be made with no hesitation! The stakeholders (all those interested in your initiative) would notice it right away. Once you start playing, observe what happens. Sometimes solutions that were impossible to predict are discovered.


The Luck factor

Many entrepreneurs talk about the luck factor saying that without that you cannot accomplish much. We should be careful here. As the saying goes, “fortune favors the brave”, and so, it is necessary to be daring. Think, for example,  of a very young Alberto Bombassei (Brembo) knocking at Enzo Ferrari’s door and becoming his partner in F1 braking systems.

I recently met Andrea Bonaveri, world leader in the production of “mannequins”(real works of art!) used by some of the most famous fashion houses. I confirmed this belief. As a young man, after being humiliated by a shopkeeper in Rimini who had thrown all his brochures in the garbage, he came up with a completely new strategy and decided to aim high; so he called Benetton. This happened back in the 80s. Benetton accepted to meet him and soon enough Bonaveri became his official supplier. Therefore, rather than talking about the Luck factor, we should start talking about the C-factor, where C stands for courage, the courage of trying! Of course, we will never know the stories about all those that tried and did not succeed. That is why the luck factor must be taken into consideration; trying will not guarantee success, but if you want to succeed you must try, and try hard!


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