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Across the editor's desk: March 2007

Agriculture.com Staff 07/06/2010 @ 4:26pm

How would you rate yourself as an entrepreneur? Before you limit your view of entrepreneurship as only block-buster ideas and big bucks, let's agree on a definition.

Try this: "An entrepreneur is a person who recognizes an opportunity and creates an organization to pursue it."

That's the definition preferred by Robert Jolly, codirector of the Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative at Iowa State University. Jolly led a session recently at the Beginning Farmers Conference at Iowa State. He challenged the aspiring and beginning farmers to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Entrepreneurs see problems as merely opportunities awaiting their solutions. In that context, you probably do something entrepreneurial on your farm almost every day. You find ways to do things better to make money or save time.

Successful Farming magazine thrives on showcasing those ideas. The "All around the farm" page, for example, features highly usable and practical but unpatented ideas developed by farmers.

Farmers such as Jon Kinzenbaw and Eugene Sukup are among the dozens of producers who took their ideas to the marketplace and grew successful companies.

Among the important attributes of entrepreneurs are vision, commitment, self-motivation, and prudent analysis of risk, according to Jolly. Another attribute is the ability to develop a network of friends and partners with the right expertise.

"Entrepreneurial thinkers rarely are loners," Jolly says.

Another attribute is honesty, not only in assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, but also in accepting reality. Perseverance is huge, too.

Participants at the forum were all contributors and leaders in helping move the biofuels industry to the center stage of public attention, including prominent mention in President Bush's State of the Union message in January.

Perseverance is an apt word for the entrepreneurs who have grown the industry from the days of gasohol. Despite success, critics abound.

To gain a small measure of the amount of criticism, I Googled two words: ethanol bad. I harvested 1,520,000 results!

Among the headlines:

  • "Ethanol: Good politics, bad policy"
  • "Election-year ethanol talk is good politics, bad math"
  • "Why corn-based ethanol is bad for America"
  • "Ethanol: Great for farmers, bad for pheasants"
  • "Ethanol: Good for drivers, bad for the hungry"
  • "Good news for ethanol, bad news for the environment"
  • "Bush's ethanol plan bad news for many industries"
  • "Ethanol is good, except when it's not"

As you persevere in overcoming problems on your farm, take comfort that you won't find 1.5 million critical references to your solutions!

How would you rate yourself as an entrepreneur? Before you limit your view of entrepreneurship as only block-buster ideas and big bucks, let's agree on a definition.

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