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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thinking like an entrepreneur

There was a great opinion piece/editorial that appeared in Inside Higher Education last week. It is well worth the read. The author (Kevin Guthrie, President of Ithaka) begins with a set of views of how the reproduction and distribution of information in print is being disrupted by the economics of digital media. One of the challenges he describes is the difficulty scholars have in launching and sustaining successful digital initiatives, because they do not think like entrepreneurs. Some could argue the same problem exists for a number of college stores that operate on various college campuses. Guthrie's piece makes some good recommendations and observations of what is required to develop the entrepreneurial mindset that is critical to the success of digital initiatives in higher education -- many of which could be applied to college stores.

The aspects of entrepreneurship he identified as particularly important to creating sustainable digital projects are listed below. I think as one moves through the list, the elements become increasingly relevant and important for stores to consider and internalize in their own terms and context. Here is the list, explanations and insight are added in the full piece.
#1 Grants are for start-up, not sustainability.
#2 Cost recovery is not sufficient: growth is necessary
#3 Value is determined by impact.
#4 Projects should think in terms of building scale through partnerships, collaborations, mergers and even acquisitions.
#5 In a competitive world, strategic planning is imperative. (my personal favorite)
#6 Flexibility, mimbleness, and responsiveness are key.
#7 Dedicated and fully accountable leadership is essential

The full piece is perhaps 1-2 pages in length and is worth the read.

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