How Great Entrepreneurs Think

In the world of business, there are great corporate executives, then there are great entrepreneurs. What sets them apart from each other?

University of Virginia's Darden School of Business professor Saras Sarasvathy tested some of America's best minds in business and found that entrepreneurs think differently than corporate execs:

Sarasvathy concluded that master entrepreneurs rely on what she calls effectual reasoning. Brilliant improvisers, the entrepreneurs don't start out with concrete goals. Instead, they constantly assess how to use their personal strengths and whatever resources they have at hand to develop goals on the fly, while creatively reacting to contingencies.

By contrast, corporate executives—those in the study group were also enormously successful in their chosen field—use causal reasoning. They set a goal and diligently seek the best ways to achieve it. Early indications suggest the rookie company founders are spread all across the effectual-to-causal scale. But those who grew up around family businesses will more likely swing effectual, while those with M.B.A.'s display a causal bent. Not surprisingly, angels and seasoned VCs think much more like expert entrepreneurs than do novice investors.

Leigh Buchanan of Inc. has the full story: Link


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