I will start from rather far away. Each year I set an objective for myself to visit three countries I have not been to before. In this way I slowly, but steadily move towards the goal to see and experience all countries of our beautiful and amazing World.
In 2011 the International Baltic Summer School (IBSS) represented a wonderful opportunity to achieve the above-mentioned yearly objective, because it takes place in three Baltic countries: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. And I had not been there previously. In addition, there was some strange feeling that I should go for this opportunity, because I might learn something important. So, in spite of rather high costs, my decision-making on this topic resulted in the submitted application for IBSS and further taking part in this Summer School.
However, this article named “3 IN 1” is not about the interesting company visits to Skype and ICT Demo Center in Tallinn, swimming and sunbathing at the beaches in Parnu and Jurmala, adventures of being homeless in Riga, playing in the “fun room” of Swedbank high above Vilnius, admiring the treasures of the Trakai Castle, and in general enjoying the 3 countries in 1 Summer School.
No, the post is about what I have learned and experienced concerning business: Knowledge, Skills, and Ethics – the 3 components that an entrepreneur should possess in order to create and run a modern and successful international business.
This is the most obvious and frequently used “compound” in the formula of entrepreneurship. No wonder there is a saying “Who possesses the information, rules the World”. During IBSS we were taught the peculiarities of doing business in the Baltics, entrepreneurial environment and developments there, as well as shown examples of successful companies on the Baltic market. This knowledge will surely be valuable in the process of establishing business in the region, but it will also surely be outdated by the time the decision on doing it is made. So, the task of an entrepreneur here is to ensure the constant receiving of the relevant and updated knowledge through multiple channels, both physical and virtual.
Raw knowledge is not enough without the necessary “tools” to process and use it for the entrepreneur’s advantage. These “tools” are specific skills and abilities, both innate and developed through personal and professional experience. Skills to think “out of the box” and come up with the unique idea, skills to identify the business potential in this idea and to make it real, skills to establish and benefit from a large international network, skills to convince other people in your idea and business and thus obtain the customer base, skills to manage yourself and the pressure upon you, and many more. Some of them we have already had, some we have discovered and developed during IBSS, and some will come with experience further on.
This component is often omitted from the entrepreneurship formula. Some even say that there is no such thing as “business ethics”. I do not intend to argue with them, because my opinion is that common human ethics is enough to make person respected, business deals trustworthy, and business itself successful. If to wrap it up in a philosophical veil, as it is usually done, I would say that while knowledge is the key to the door of success and skills are the hands that are able to turn this key, ethics is that “inner voice”, which suggested you to choose exactly this door and to obtain exactly this key. But it is quite hard to learn to listen to this “voice”, and many people choose even not to try it. Why bother, when there are so many temptations around?! Nevertheless, the environment, including the business one, constantly tests every one of us on following the ethical way. At the Summer School I was somehow put into conditions that allowed me to check my ethical principles, values, goals, and dedication to them. I suppose I have passed this trial. At least it made me think about all this stuff.
All in all, my key learning point from the International Baltic Summer School (IBSS) was that in order to achieve victory on the “business battleground” an entrepreneur should have all 3 components – Knowledge, Skills, and Ethics – armed and ready. And not only HAVE them, but also USE them every day and in every step towards own business. The 3 components – the “key”, the “hands”, and the “voice” – for one door to success.