Want to Build a Business that Makes an Impact? You’ll Need Some Rigor with your Focus

1/30/14 – Andy Kumar recently graduated from the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA program at Colorado State University, which – along with the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade – hosted Dr. Michael Conroy in October of 2013.

Dr. Michael Conroy

Dr. Michael Conroy

Dr. Michael Conroy launched his accomplished career as a Peace Corps volunteer in Latin America – an experience that dramatically shaped his focus and left him looking for solutions to development issues. He is a self-described “recovering economist,” who has taught for almost three decades at the University of Texas, Austin and Yale.  His book, Branded!, discusses the business of product certification and its impact on organizations and how they manage their brands.

As Chairman of HUB Oaxaca, Dr. Conroy now dedicates time to supporting entrepreneurs, and on a chilly afternoon in October, Dr. Conroy came to visit Colorado State University and meet with our student entrepreneurs. Together, they discussed the complexities of regulatory environments, venture creation, and the importance of driving impact.  While the dialogue crossed a range of topics, I noticed a theme: to accomplish anything, you need rigor and focus. Here are two examples for you:

Entrepreneurship is hard work

Entrepreneurship is hard work…

Example 1: Reaching Proof of Concept

  • To get ventures funded, potential investors want to see ‘proof of concept’. They are interested in ventures that don’t just treat problems as opportunities, but can actually produce measurable results. This requires rigorous planning and measurement practices.

Example 2: Developing Culturally Appropriate Solutions

  • Both rigor and focus are required to identify culturally appropriate solutions to development problems. Collaboration alone is nothing short of exhausting.  Using collaboration to understand traditions and cultures, and then to develop innovations, is truly an accomplishment. So how do you overcome the exhaustion to engage in co-creating a culturally appropriate solution for users? Through rigorous research, a laser-focus on product development with the end user mind, and measuring the impact.

Rigor and focus.  The more rigorously you approach the process, the more thorough your results and the quicker you will reach your milestones. The faster you get to a focused idea to test it, the more likely you are to create something valuable.

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