An investigation into the decision making process of entrepreneurs in identifying new opportunities and whether they analyse consumer behaviour

Heymans, Oloff (2015-04)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2015.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research focused on how entrepreneurs (1) think; (2) see business opportunities; (3) convert an idea into a successful business; (4) observe and tap into consumer behaviour; and (5) how they use the information that they have gathered to their own best advantage. Various researchers and authors attempted (and will attempt) to define an entrepreneur, entrepreneurial traits, opportunity recognition and consumer behaviour. Literature focusses on each individual aspect of an entrepreneur, but no comprehensive literature is available on how entrepreneurs’ minds work ‘prowling’ for opportunities, implementing the opportunity they saw into practice and how they deal with failure. The researcher interviewed six entrepreneurs from his community in the North Coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal. A questionnaire of 27 specific questions was compiled to direct the discussions, but the candidates were given freedom to relay their stories. The questions were designed not only to cover the 5 issues mentioned in paragraph 1, but also to cover softer issues such as: how they handle failure and difficult situations; why they have beaten the statistics in being a successful entrepreneur and who and what their supporting structures are. All the interviews were recorded, then transcribed for analysis and coding. Once all the data was ‘given a label’, the data was grouped by using axial coding that resulted in the data being grouped into themes. The researcher then looked for core themes emanating from the answers given by the participants. Financial success is usually driven by commercial values, where the primary goal is to achieve the maximum profit by outwitting and outperforming the competition. On the other hand, the entrepreneurial spirit is driven by other values and entrepreneurs are at times totally oblivious of the competition in the market. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to tenaciously listen to themselves with an unflinching trust that success will follow the implementation of their ideas. This research found that the entrepreneurial spirit could not be bottled, labelled, or sold. The entrepreneurial spirit is a natural phenomenon that does not suit everyone. Entrepreneurs have a propensity towards risk-taking, but they take calculated risks. They see risk as a calculated even and not a gamble. The research further found that ‘to see opportunities you have to be in the game’. Opportunities seldom come by sitting on the side-line. A key word that was uncovered was ‘pivoting’ – one idea leads to the next and the new idea and opportunity ‘pivots’ further, causing an idea chain reaction into other business opportunities and diversification. The research finally uncovered that entrepreneurs rely heavily on their support structure, they can see the ‘wood for the trees’ when it comes to failure (not making it a personal failure) and they are quasi-philanthropists, investing in their communities and other emerging companies.

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