Current affairs

Thursday, 3 de January, 2019

The Workshop for Responsible Entrepreneurs run by the Co-Founder and COO of Smartmee focused on the profile of the responsible entrepreneur, to whom he gave a number of valuable tips.

Manuel Juanes also took part in a session at EAE’s Barcelona campus focusing on the same topic of entrepreneurship. In the online workshop, Manuel used the example of a basketball player to give students an insight into the world of entrepreneurship, which he defined as “the capacity of human beings to turn our dreams into reality.”

“I see entrepreneurship from an essential perspective and not just from a business point of view”, explained the COO of Smartmee, adding that a good helping of luck is an element that must be taken into account with respect to some businesses prospering in comparison to others in similar circumstances. In the EAE lecturer’s opinion, responsibility in this respect falls within the second definition offered by the RAE dictionary: a quality displayed by a “person you takes care and pays attention with respect what they do and decide”.

Based on this definition, Manuel Juanes spoke about responsibility as a concept that grows upwards and encompasses the person themselves (the entrepreneur) and the relationships they establish with their partners, team, customers, investors and, last but not least, the planet.

“Responsibility to ourselves” is the first step required of a person launching an entrepreneurial venture and it is a matter of being objective, controlling the risk as much as possible, not falling in love with the idea and being passionate about the project that you are undertaking. In this initial phase, it is important to limit the risk as much as you can and performing a good diagnostic procedure at the start of the venture, “monitoring how it behaves at both an internal and external level”. To do so, a SWOT analysis is fundamental.

“If things don’t work out within the set time, you have to stop the entrepreneurial project and look for second opportunities” explained Manuel, emphasizing that things do not always go the way we planned on the first attempt. In fact, it is a question of trial and error. “We learn from failure and mistakes because they teach us to do things much better on the second attempt”.

In the entrepreneurial phase, there are two fundamental aspects: developing a minimum viable product to test the feasibility of the business and establishing a set of metrics, which “are essential for planning and designing a really effective strategy”. In fact, “if you manage to identify the metrics, the likelihood of success will be far higher”, added Manuel.

Responsibility is also crucial with respect to customers, “because they are the source of revenue and they enable you to measure the viability of a business”. Companies have to be 100% focused on the customer and we have to strive to generate their loyalty by providing a good service and being responsive. “The purchasing decision is more closely link to the connection they have with the brand or the experiences they have than with the product in itself”, explained the lecturer on EAE’s Master in Entrepreneurship. He went on to discuss methodologies such as the Custom Review, the Empathy Map, the Link Canvas and the Business Model Canvas to be applied when developing a value proposition for customers.

After our customers, responsibility to our partners is the third pillar of responsible entrepreneurship, which is a matter of “trying to find partners whose profiles or capacities complement ours. To do so, we have to choose colleagues who share our objectives and values”. On this point, Manuel Juanes emphasized the importance of a good partners’ agreement that ensures trust between the parties and prevents potential conflicts in the future. 

The team is also an essential aspect in the lecturer’s opinion. “It is the driving force behind the company”, he explained, emphasizing the importance of company culture, establishing protocols and “facilitating innovation”. To achieve this, it is crucial to attract talented people from a range of cultures and get them involved in the organization’s plans, giving them a voice and a central role. These professionals should work in a comfortable, open space with no barriers, where they can create. Other key aspects he discussed included the company culture, strong roots, suitable conduct, protocols and prior problem testing. Prime examples for Manuel are the company Uber and the guide for the best places to work in Spain, which focus on the sense of belonging, commitment and loyalty to employees.

Our responsibility to the outside world is closely related to our investors and, on this point, Manuel recommended “looking for a suitable investor, who is best aligned to our project”, as well as to the planet. This is when concepts such as corporate social responsibility and the environment come into play. He concluded the Workshop for Responsible Entrepreneurs by telling the participants “not to fool yourself or others and treat the people around you as you would like to be treated”.