Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research
1997 Edition

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THE NATURAL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT PROCESS 
Jeffrey C. Shuman

Bentley College
Waltham, MA 02154

Telephone: 617-891-2533
Fax: Ivey: 617-891-2896

Principal Topics

The paper identifies and describes the development process which intuitively all natural born entrepreneurs use when starting and running a business. It provides a step-by-step explanation of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and why it needs to be done in terms that anyone can follow to make his or her business a success. In support of the development model presented, the paper highlights Tim DeMello, the founder and CEO of Streamline, Inc., one of the hottest new companies in America.

Method

The business development process presented in the paper is based on a comprehensive review of the entrepreneurship literature and an in-depth field study of Tim DeMello, the founder and CEO of Streamline, Inc. Research on this venture is based on a multi-method, longitudinal design, emphasizing open-ended interviews with members of the entrepreneurial team, a content analysis of organizational documents and archival records, and participant observation in the company. The participant-observation model used in this study was modified to control for potential biases and the type of uncritical group-oriented support that are inherent in this approach. Following grounded theory and phenomenological approaches to organization research, transcripts of the interviews were examined for concepts and themes that characterized the company and its development process. These "emergent hypotheses" were then tested in discussions with members of the founding team.

Major Findings

Most businesses do not succeed in the way they began. And this is because every business goes through a natural development process. So many times we hear successful entrepreneurs talk about their success as if it were a mystery even to themselves. The reason for the mystery is that the natural development process is so basic to business it lies hidden in the cacophany of everyday events and, even when it is heard, it is only heard dimly and followed mostly by instinct. As a result, for those involved in starting and building a business there is always a terrible sense of fear, a sense of being slightly lost, a feeling of being slightly out of sync because no one completely understands where they are or what they are doing or where they are heading within the overall context of gaining and maintaining business success.

Implications

The importance of the natural development process cannot be overemphasized. Many people understand important parts of this process; they know that they have to love their business, they know that they have to satisfy their customers, they know that they have to have information. But what they don't understand is that these elements are not isolated "tips" but are part of an overall process, a process that up until now has never been identified and explained. When entrepreneurs understand the natural development process they will never feel lost or out of sync no matter what business they  are in or what stage of development their business has reached. They will always know where they are, what they are doing and where their business is heading because the natural development process incorporates concrete steps to attain business success applicable for any individual starting any business.
 

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