Companies of All Sizes Benefit from Entrepreneurial Leadership
Successful entrepreneurs develop a tolerance for ambiguity, Tim Faley, managing director of the Zell Lurie Institute, tells alumni attending the Reunion 2004 Annual Business Conference.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Entrepreneurs will become increasingly important as the world moves from an industrial to a knowledge economy, Tim Faley, managing director of the Samuel Zell & Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, told alumni who returned to the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan for Reunion 2004.
More than 1,400 alumni attended festivities that included anniversary class events, Michigan’s homecoming football game with the University of Minnesota and the Annual Business Conference.
In his Oct. 8 business conference presentation, titled "Innovation and Entrepreneurialism," Faley challenged alumni to reconsider and expand their definition of entrepreneurs beyond small-business owners or niche-product developers to include "leaders who innovatively exploit change."
Among the core competencies entrepreneurs share, Faley said, are the ability to:
Identify emerging opportunities and threats.
Formulate and assess innovative business solutions.
Develop an actionable plan from disparate and incomplete information.
Identify, align and acquire resources needed to power a project.
Drive accelerated growth.
Although companies of all sizes benefit from entrepreneurial leaders, Faley predicted that the initial risk of creating new and innovative products and services increasingly will continue to be borne by new ventures, which are risky. As many as 80 percent of new ventures fail within five years, according to some sources, he reported. However, Faley added, failure statistics are somewhat skewed because acquisition—an exit strategy used by successful new companies—often is erroneously counted as a "failure."
The trade-offs between starting a new venture and working for a large, more stable corporation also are changing as the odds of having a secure 40-year career at one firm decrease. The decision to pursue a high-risk/high-reward career with a new venture no longer seems so daunting, Faley said.
Successful entrepreneurs develop a tolerance for ambiguity, said Faley, adding, "I tell students to be prepared for ambiguity. Many times you must make decisions with little or no data with the knowledge that those decisions have real consequences and impact people’s lives." Learning to deal with ambiguity is one reason entrepreneurship cannot be learned from a book, he said.
Since 1999, the Zell Lurie Institute has enriched students' entrepreneurial coursework with programs that provide entrepreneurial experiences and have significant real-world impact.
In addition to offering 22 entrepreneurial studies classes ranging from new-venture creation to intellectual property and competitive strategy, Zell Lurie sponsors hands-on programs to help students develop entrepreneurial skills. Examples include a grant program that provides students with seed money to explore their own business concepts and internships and team projects inside small, high-growth companies.
For more about the Zell Lurie Institute, visit
For more information, contact:
Mary Jo Frank