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RESULTS

Entrepreneurs Opportunity Recognition Capabilities

It may be seen in Table 2 the entrepreneurs have a considerable experience base with opportunities. Almost all entrepreneurs indicated that they pursued major, new business opportunities in the past five years, with almost half pursuing five or more opportunities. Although the success rates are by definition lower than the sheer pursuit of opportunities, about 20 percent indicated that they had had five or more successes and only 8 percent had not had any successes. It is striking that so many (over 40 percent) of the opportunities pursued were unrelated to their existing businesses at the time, and over 25 percent had ideas that could become new businesses.

Network entrepreneurs (NEs) identified significantly more opportunities. This supports the weak ties (Granovetter, 1973) and structural holes (Burt, 1992) arguments through the indication that people who use their networks may have access to more information and thus more potential opportunities.

Self-Perceived Entrepreneurial Alertness

Although some bias would be expected, we felt it was important to document entrepreneurs' self-perceptions regarding opportunity recognition. The overall conclusion from the sample, as shown in Table 3, is that many entrepreneurs strongly see themselves as "entrepreneurially alert." Overwhelmingly, both NEs and SEs indicate that that they have a "special alertness" toward opportunities; describe themselves as opportunistic; see new business opportunities "naturally;" and even enjoy casually thinking about new opportunities. However, it should also be noted that SEs were significantly more likely to view themselves as opportunistic and as having special alertness. SEs may be individuals who have a higher locus of control and higher sense of self-confidence. NEs may also not need alertness because they use their social ties to provide them with information. Having more opportunities (as indicated by Table 2), may not require NEs to be as opportunistic or alert as SEs.

Importance of Venture Ideas and Creativity

A "venture idea" is not necessarily an "opportunity;" however, it is striking that 70 percent of the sample entrepreneurs agreed that, "New venture ideas are a dime a dozen. Evaluation is the key" (see Table 4). Also, 53 percent agreed that "the problem is not to get the venture idea, but to get capital and other resources." It should also be noted that approximately one-third disagreed with the latter. However, overall, these findings support those indicated in Table 2 that entrepreneurs do not have problems coming up with ideas for businesses.

As far as differences between SEs and NEs, there were a number of differences with respect to the importance of creativity, the self-reported levels of creativity, and the time allotted to be creative on a regular basis. While both groups of entrepreneurs indicated that creativity was important (almost 90 percent of both groups), SEs felt it was significantly more important. They also viewed themselves as being more creative than NEs, and were more likely to set aside time specifically to be creative. Entrepreneurs who are networked to opportunity sources may not need to be as creative as those who are not because they have access to a wider range of information and "creativity" through network ties. However, the overall results underscore the need to build creativity into entrepreneurship education and training programs.

TABLE 2

Opportunity Recognition Behaviors

ITEM

TYPE1

MEAN

0

1-2

3-4

5-10

>10

How many new, major business opportunities have you pursued (invested time and money) in the last 5 years?

S

N

3.42*

3.98*

2%

0

38

20

23

31

25

34

12

15

How many of these new business opportunities can be said to be successes?

S

N

2.31

2.75

8

8

56

40

19

32

16

17

1

3

How many of these new business opportunities were unrelated to the existing business at that time?

S

N

0.95

1.21

53

54

33

26

12

13

0

5

2

2

How many ideas, if any, have you had that could have become a new business (or a significant part of a business) in the past year?

S

N

2.80

3.26

12

12

36

23

27

34

16

19

9

12

1 S=Solo Entrepreneur/N=Network Entrepreneur * Significant at the p<.05 level 

TABLE 3

Self-Perceived Entrepreneurial Alertness

ITEM

TYPE1

MEAN

SA

PA

N

PD

SD

I have a special alertness or sensitivity toward opportunities.

S

N

1.46*

1.72*

64%

44

27

41

9

13

0

2

0

0

I would describe myself as opportunistic.

S

N

1.53**

1.98**

61

33

26

43

11

20

2

3

0

1

"Seeing" potential new business opportunities does not come very naturally for me.

S

N

3.97

3.90

2

0

11

15

13

8

38

49

36

28

I enjoy just thinking about and/or looking for new business opportunities.

S

N

1.88

2.05

53

38

23

33

13

18

5

10

6

1

I often think of new business ideas when I am totally relaxed, doing something unrelated to business.

S

N

2.14

2.21

33

26

39

31

14

16

9

8

5

8

SA=Strongly Agree=1 PA=Partially Agree=2 N=Neutral=3 PD=Partially Disagree=4 SD=Strongly Disagree=5

1 S=Solo Entrepreneur/N=Network Entrepreneur * Significant at p<.05 level ** Significant at p<.01 level

TABLE 4

Importance Of Venture Ideas And Creativity

ITEM

TYPE1

MEAN

SA

PA

N

PD

SD

New venture ideas are a dime a dozen. Evaluation is the key.

S

N

2.16

2.18

43%

35

25

35

13

12

11

13

8

5

The problem is not to get the venture idea, but to get capital and other resources.

S

N

2.78

2.60

18

17

35

36

11

21

25

21

11

5

Being creative is very important to identifying business opportunities.

S

N

1.37*

1.72*

71

46

24

43

3

7

2

3

0

1

I am not a very creative person.

S

N

4.22*

3.74*

2

7

8

11

14

20

20

26

56

36

I set aside a few minutes each day or week to be creative.

S

N

2.44*

2.92*

29

18

26

24

24

24

15

15

6

18

SA=Strongly Agree=1 PA=Partially Agree=2 N=Neutral=3 PD=Partially Disagree=4 SD=Strongly Disagree=5

1 S=Solo Entrepreneur/N=Network Entrepreneur * Significant at the p<.05 level

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