Entrepreneurship: Finding Overlap between Theory and Practice

Why would you even take a Master degree to be an entrepreneur? Why didn’t you just do it? Do you really have to study all those business theories before becoming a business(wo)man? Will it be really helpful in real business world?

Those questions keep sparking out during my study here in Lancaster University. While my classmates and I have studied this Master degree of Entrepreneurship and Innovation for a year, none of us decided to directly jump down into real business world as full entrepreneur (yet).

 

I’ve never really wanted to be an academia. I can’t stand reading long journal papers with complicated sentences that, sometimes, actually only tell simple common-sense idea. And apparently I didn’t get proper understanding of academic paper back in undergraduate thesis. So when I started my master dissertation project here, instead of full academic paper, I opted for writing business plan with complementary academic piece (which is considered more ‘practical’).

I’ve also deliberately chosen Ian Gordon as my supervisor, who’s been known for his SMEs development program and a business practitioner himself. I was hoping to get more ‘practical insight’ during my dissertation project. That’s why I didn’t really pay attention to my academic piece, since I thought “I’ll just conduct interviews with SMEs and relate it to whatever theories say.”

In fact, it turned out to be tough.

So tough that I scolded myself for being too arrogant and underestimate it…

The Practice

My dissertation topic was about SME e-commerce adoption and Absorptive Capacity (don’t worry it’s also the first time for me to hear this term). I interviewed 10 (ten) SME owners in Indonesia and to be honest, I got amazing experience and valuable insights from them.

I’m glad that many of SME owners I interviewed were kind of progressive entrepreneur, who pay attention to latest business trend and pursue higher goal to, for instance, exporting abroad. We talked a lot, sometimes out of the interview topic, or till an hour more, that I can feel the entrepreneur’s passion, dream, and even worry.

Nevertheless, I have decided since the beginning that I must interview SME owners for this project; either British or Indonesian (actually wanted to do both). For one simple reason: I like listening stories–real stories, from real people doing the real thing. I’ve conducted similar method for my undergraduate thesis, thus I’m pretty sure that this won’t be really hard.

It wasn’t full academic paper, so my initial My emphasise was solely on interview result. I interviewed 10 (ten) SME owners in Indonesia in the hope that, if I get various-interesting result, then I can create good stories. At that time I didn’t realise (yet) that I was writing a news report instead of academic paper.

Yes, I read theories before conducting interviews, but it was only some ‘popular papers’ that explain my topic definitions–rather than critical opinion about it. I have always belittled literature review. I thought that these theories will be superseded by the real field data I was about to gather. Nothing beats real knowledge gathered from practitioners, right?

But then, I realise that my data didn’t speak as strong as it supposed to. I got the pieces of different stories but it just couldn’t make up into one whole coherent novel.

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The Practice

 

Honestly, during my study period, I felt that my intention to be an entrepreneur was even somehow diminished. I was too overwhelmed with the papers and theories about entrepreneurship that I forgot how to think like a businessman. However, near the end of the program, I’m glad that I learnt something valuable during my final dissertation project.

To be honest I have never really read a scientific academic paper before this MSc program. It’s true that we conducted academic research as requirement for our bachelor degree, but when I looked back to what I wrote that time, most of the sources were taken from public article instead of academic paper in the acknowledged journal. I relied much on the interview results with some SME owners.

This time, for my Master dissertation, again I conduct interviews with SME owners. But yes, it’s a lot different experience compared to 3 years ago.

I met incredible entrepreneurs and small business owners. It is kinda different to listen hands-on experience from them. I’ve interviewed some SME owners previously but this recent experience was more thoughtful one. I was probably lucky to meet some full-spirited entrepreneurs. With some of them I talked a lot, even an hour.

Why, then?

The common excuse is, no adequate capital. While most of us are young people around 25 without stabilised professional career (yet), starting a business from scratch might be too risky–no, we’re not prepared yet to lose any money …

 

When those two pieces of dissertation have finally been submitted, I feel so so sooo relieved as if a huge burden has been lifted up from my shoulder. Feels that all the hardwork is paid off, and this 50 weeks learning journey has finally reached the peak (or so to say).

I learned quite a lot during the dissertation project. I have always wanted to

I know there will never be a peak of learning journey. Period of study might be over, but there will never be an end in learning period. Coz learning is a lifetime experience.