As it is known, entrepreneurship is a driving force that assists in developing markets and creating market segments. In addition, entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth of their native countries and, given the effect of globalization, these people help constructing the global economies and markets. Scholars define the term entrepreneurship as “the pursuit of opportunity beyond the resources currently controlled” (Amabile 2009, p. 2). Considering the growing role of neoliberalism in the modern world, it is appropriate to study the performance of the famous businessmen who managed to obtain world-wide fame both with and without economic liberalization. In particular, business performance of Steve Jobs and Carlos Slim will be investigated and compared. This choice of samples stems from the premise that macro environment plays an important role in launching, developing, and maintaining a sustainable business. The macroenvironments of these individuals are supposed to contain different economic, political, social, cultural, legal, environmental, and technological factors. Hence, both of them managed to achieve admirable success in a business world, which allows hypothesizing that personal characteristics that enable addressing and anticipating the external challenges were more important than environmental factors. Therefore, it is appropriate to identify in what ways each of these businessmen addressed the corresponding issues and utilized the strengths. To accomplish this task, it is necessary to explore the biographies of the discussed individuals. Apart from that, the studied variables include leadership style, inner locus of control, loss-aversion, and communication.
The biography of the deceased Steven Jobs is an example of a collection of ambiguous personal traits and choices. Jobs lived his life expanding the borders of consciousness by obtaining various and not always benevolent experiences. For instance, attempting to find his place in this world, young Jobs decided to embrace “the hippie culture” (Toma & Marinescu 2013, p. 265). Later on, he left college after studying there for 1 semester. Jobs travelled to India, and there, he succumbed to Buddhism. Seeking for diverse experiences to a great extent predefined the success of this entrepreneur because Jobs learnt to blend the matters and ideas from different fields, which shaped his innovative and independent thinking. In terms of leadership, Steve Jobs is known for his strictness and high demands towards the staff. Nevertheless, sometimes Jobs’s harsh behaviour is excused with his passionate adherence to creative vision and respective goals (Toma & Marinescu 2013). Being a charismatic leader helped this businessman to assemble a good team. Hence, due to the ambiguity of his character, “his early career was marked by manipulative, dishonest, boorish behaviour” (Young & Simon 2005). In this regard, Jobs greatly differed from another discussed entrepreneur, Carlos Slim who was a philanthropist.
Carlos Slim is a Mexican financier, entrepreneur, and philanthropist (American Academy of Achievement 2014). Starting from the 21st century, Forbes repetitively identified him as the richest man of the world. Hence, due to the changing politico-economic course of Mexico in 2012, this businessman experienced certain decline of revenue. In the modern world, he is the second richest man in the world after Bill Gates (American Academy of Achievement 2014). To a degree, Slim’s success is predefined by his innate predisposition for numbers. As a child, he showed explicit interest in entrepreneurship, in particular, at the age of 12, the boy started to buy shares in the Mexican bank (American Academy of Achievement 2014). Slim’s interest for numbers resulted in obtaining the profession of an engineer; whereas, simultaneously, he taught “mathematics and linear programming” (American Academy of Achievement 2014). After launching the first company, Grupo Carso, the businessman maintained a modest lifestyle saving as much as possible money for reinvestment. This wistful decision contributed to the collection of wealth. Thereafter, Carlos Slim started to seek for companies that were bankrupted or poorly profitable and thus were cheap to purchase (American Academy of Achievement 2014). Slim’s intuition for profitable affairs helped re-modernizing these companies, which made him the leading figure in providing telecommunication services in the Latin America.
Connecting Opportunities with Time Variable
Without a doubt, one of the main characteristics of the entrepreneurs is their unique and distinctive thinking. This feature is often associated with creativity. Being creative is a capacity to think differently from the rest of people. The results of creative approaches are innovative techniques. Consequently, one can rightfully deduce that innovative mentality is a common denominator for businessmen. The innovation should occur timely; therefore, time is another variable that is crucial in terms of successful implementation of change (Table 1). For instance, both Jobs and Slim acknowledge the topicality of technological development. Understanding the abundance of opportunities, they direct their performance to this field. Nonetheless, it is necessary to clarify that their approaches are different. For instance, Jobs creates opportunities (Gallo n. d.). Simultaneously, Slim invests in the development of telecommunications in Mexico (reshaping opportunities). Nevertheless, despite different approaches, these entrepreneurs have independent thinking, which is common for both of them.
Understanding the immense role of time variable, one should notice that the discussed businessmen have diverse views towards the appropriateness of changes. Specifically, Carlos Slim accentuates that “one of the big errors people are making right now is thinking that old-style businesses will be obsolete, when actually they will be an important part of this new civilization” (Brightside n. d.). This statement implies that Slim believes that innovative changes should be implemented with a moderate speed, without rushing into the new approaches that have not been verified. In contrast, Steve Jobs adheres to creating the new ideas by blending knowledge from different fields (Gallo n. d.). Nonetheless, what these entrepreneurs have in common is self-confidence; they follow their intuition revealing independent thinking and faith in the success of their performance. Therefore, it is not surprising that the above-discussed features are commonly linked to the images of famous businessmen.
Despite creative and independent thinking that requires noticing the broader situation and identifying the new perspectives, successful entrepreneurs are narrow-focused. They detect the field of interest (it should be a profitable but not overcrowded with rivals area) and direct their energy in this field. For instance, Steve Jobs deals with creating and improving gadgets, whereas, Carlos Slim provides communication services to the Mexican people. In this regard, Jobs emphasizes that, to become successful, people should do what they love (Gallo n. d.). Therefore, it is possible to deduce that the excellence of the entrepreneurship depends on the correctly identified field of business performance, which should be in compliance with a businessman competence and interest.
Strong Motivation and Inner Locus of Control
Continuing to discuss the topic of interest and motivation, it is necessary to refer to an explanation that one’s ego is divided into inner and outer ego (Gallo n. d., p. 5). Assessing the action of both from the perspective of the entrepreneurs’ personal qualities, one should accentuate the following peculiarities. The inner ego is connected with motivation and, respectively, with ambitions to overcome challenges. In this regard, Jobs and Slim are explicit examples of a strong inner ego. They are both motivated, bold, and prepared for failures. For instance, Steve Jobs is noticed to be indifferent towards failure; in addition, he realizes that it is an unavoidable element of success part (Raiz 2012). Similarly, Slim is also considered to be bold and confident in the correctness of his business decisions. Consider the example, “in 2008, Slim surprised the business world with his purchase of a 6.4 percent stake in the troubled New York Times Company” (American Academy of Achievement 2014). Without a doubt, it is a risky decision that not many businessmen would make; however, strong motivation to develop and expand is another distinguishing feature of the successful entrepreneurs.
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Furthermore, scrutinizing the quality of person’s outer ego, it should be stressed that it is greatly determined by internal locus of control. Whereas the inner ego engages a businessman to take risk and try the approaches that the rivals are averse of, the outer ego encourages taking responsibility for these actions. Scholars state that well-developed inner locus of control “includes responsibility and accountability and, especially significant, ‘courage’ – an ability and willingness to deal with setbacks” (Raiz 2012). As was identified above, both discussed entrepreneurs possess profound inner and outer ego and, undoubtedly, it contributes to their charisma and predefines success.
It is appropriate to mention that the ability to make timely decisions and take responsibility for actions is positively connected with business ethics. Consider the rationale, inner locus of control makes businessmen operate in frames of corporate social responsibility. For example, Jobs informs that Apple values the customers’ opinion and always encourages their feedback, which is considered by the company and obtained information is directed towards increasing the quality of products (Gallo n. d.). This approach is an example of strong responsibility towards clients. Without a doubt, it contributes to the success of Apple’s products.
Scrutinizing Slim’s corporate ethics, one should emphasize that this businessman is known for his philanthropic behaviour (American Academy of Achievement 2014). Furthermore, constructing business in a developing state that has a high level of poverty, Slim maintains responsibility towards communities by proving a range of jobs for the locals. To a great extent, this positive reputation and respect of the Mexican people are the advantages that Slim may use to increase profitability.
Processing to explore the particularities of the businessmen’s ego, it is reasonable to discuss it from the perspective of plausible loss-aversion. This term is used to define people’s behaviour in the challenging situations when individuals are at risk of losing what they have (Morgan & Sisak n. d.). It is important to clarify that the peculiarity of loss-aversion is that in the situations when hard/dubious ethical decisions should be made, humans tend to cherish what they have over the matters that they may obtain. For instance, investment is a good example of the situation that may trigger this phenomenon. In particular, in this case, time is again an important variable: investors may believe that what they already have is more valuable than the profits that are supposed to be received. To a degree, this idea is reasonable, but on the other hand, loss-aversion may hinder the development of markets because of people’s disposition to cherishing and saving what they have instead of using this capital to increase their revenue. Comprehending the terms and peculiarities of loss-aversion, one may conclude that successful businessmen manage to avoid this phenomenon.
Connecting this insight to the discussed entrepreneurs, it becomes clear that they can resist loss aversion because, as it was identified above, neither Jobs nor Slim are afraid to make risky decisions and investments. Presumably, immunity to loss aversion stems from their boldness and self-confidence. In addition, innovative thinking must create precise vision of the future; thus, successful businessmen can avoid this negative reaction. It goes without saying that having a clear vision implies knowing a valid opportunity to connect ideas with resources, which is impossible without profound communicative skills. Therefore, the next section is aimed to evaluate different aspects and outcomes of communication and relate it to the success of the studied businessmen.
Steve Jobs believes that creating the new markets is one of the pivotal tasks of a businessman; thus, he advises: “sell dreams, not products” (Gallo n. d., p. 6). This entrepreneur accentuates that his company explores in detail customers needs and does its outmost to meet their expectations (Gallo n. d.). The rational is simple: the factor of success is to be capable of anticipating the needs and desires of clients; the best way to take into account all possible expectations is to develop the market segments, which are ready and willing to buy the products that are about to be released. Given this rationale, Jobs’s advice to sell dreams means that this phase precedes the stage of selling products. In other words, demand is created before the goods are started to be sold, which increases the revenue.
Similarly, Carlos Slim also ‘sells dreams’ by providing telecommunication in Mexico. Presumably, improving communication with the dear ones is a common dream of the most people. This dream is reinforced by the fact that before Slim, the Latin America had poorly developed telecommunication (Brightside, n. d.). Therefore, Slim’s businesses benefit from the abundance of clients. Undoubtedly, the success of both entrepreneurs to a great extent is stipulated by their ability to communicate to stakeholder the proper goals that are subordinated to the formed vision.
At the same time, well-elaborated communication is necessary for building a brand, which is relevant for the discussed entrepreneurs. Communicating vision, which is set by a person with strong inner locus of control, implies that interaction with stakeholders is a tool to build a good reputation and thus to increase profits. In addition, communication is important for assuring effective leadership, setting the proper organizational moral, and chart. The next section will review these aspects in more detail.
Leadership and Resources
Studying the peculiarities of the entrepreneurs’ communication as the chiefs of big companies, it is necessary to point that both leaders appreciate direct interaction. Consider an example, Carlos Slim informs, “we want as few management layers as possible, so that executives are very close to the operations” (Brightside, n. d.). Given the above-identified strong responsibility, it is not surprising that that Slim constructs an organizational chart that allows precise monitoring of the employees’ performance. Furthermore, he states, “we also don’t believe in having big corporate infrastructures” (Brightside, n. d.), which implies that Telmex and other businesses implement an innovative organization structure leaving the corporate infrastructure in the past.
Similarly to Slim, Steve Jobs also promotes “simplicity in order to achieve the ultimate sophistication” (Toma & Marinescu 2013, p. 267). For this reason, Jobs preferred face-to-face interaction with people. This approach resonates with Slim’s idea that executives should be proximate to the operations. At the same time, precise supervision suggests that both leaders implement authoritative leadership style. This idea is supported by the previous findings that Steve Jobs “implemented an aggressive and demanding style of management” (Toma & Marinescu 2013, p. 266). In a word, Jobs and Slim appreciate direct communication and monitoring of performance.
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Furthermore, the success of acquiring resources is directly linked to the vision and respective goals. In these circumstances communication serves as a remedy of obtaining the needed results. Both leaders succeeded in collecting the resources. Specifically, Carlos Slim succeeded in “managing to spot undervalued companies and transforming them” (Brightside n. d.). Similarly, adhering to innovative approaches, Jobs hires people who are the experts in various fields other than computers. This decision enables the businessmen to use their ideas blending unrelated matters in order to create qualitatively new objects and services (Gallo n. d.). These examples display that the discussed entrepreneurs manage to achieve success because of the timely formed and realized vision that properly connects creative/profitable ideas with resources, which becomes possible due to the proficient communication with all stakeholders.
Addressing the Threats and Using the Benefits of Macro Environment
Exploring the qualities necessary for becoming a successful entrepreneur, it is appropriate to identify the main characteristics of the business environment, in which the discussed businessmen operate. This approach is aimed at discovering to what extent the factors of macroeconomy impact the entrepreneurs’ performance.
Steve Jobs and Carlos Slim are exposed to the diverse political factors. The USA supports entrepreneurship, and, thus, Jobs can enjoy friendly political environment of his state. In contrast, Slim is greatly controlled and repressed by the Mexican government (American Academy of Achievement 2014). Therefore, it is natural to deduce that these businessmen operate in the conditions of different level of political challenges; however, both manage to be successful.
In terms of economic conditions, the environment for Jobs and Slims remains similarly unequal. The USA adheres to the principle of neoliberal economy meanwhile Mexico refuses this model (Brightside n. d.). In addition, considering that the United States is well-developed in contrast to Mexico, which is a developing state, one may suggest that the purchasing power of the American customers is higher. Along with that, Forbes informs that Slim’s “mobile phone operator, America Movil, took a beating in 2015 and early 2016 in the wake of new Mexican telecom regulations, a weaker Mexican peso and economic decline in Brazil” (“The World Billionaires” 2016). Thus, economic conditions are more favourable for Jobs than for Slim.
Social factors are also more beneficial for Steve Jobs. Consider the rationale, gaining power, Carlos Slim becomes exposed to criticism from his contemporaries. It is known that “he was criticized as the call rate went up, but he managed to make phone services in Mexico much more reliable and flexible” (Brightside n. d.). This insight implies that the businessman has to overcome the adverse social responses towards the growth of his revenues. At the same time, no information is found about the fact that Jobs might experience any kind of unfriendly attitude on the part of society for creating his popular products and services.
Technological factors are beneficial for both entrepreneurs. It is not surprising since technological progress is mostly advantageous for all businesses. In addition, considering that both entrepreneurs mostly narrow their business performance to modern technologies, they can fully enjoy the favourable technological environment.
Legal Legal factors are negative for the Mexican billionaire. In particular, Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) decides to make competition between the native businesses more equal, which presumes lessening the power of big companies (American Academy of Achievement 2014). As a result, Slim has to reduce a part of property. In contrast, Jobs does not suffer from the legislative regulations that hinder the development of the entrepreneurship in the USA.
The information about pros and cons of the environmental factors is not defined, but assuming that Slim’s company serves to a number of landline customers, the environmental barriers may be stronger for this businessman than for Jobs.
In a word, it is clear that macro economic situation is much more severe for Carlos Slim. Despite this fact, he remains richer than Jobs was (American Academy of Achievement 2014). The identified conditions of the entrepreneurs’ macro environment provide an important insight that the businesses environment is a significant factor that can foster or inhibit a company’s growth; however, it is not a crucial reason of success or failure. This idea implies that the above-discussed personal characteristics of Jobs and Slim are the core variables that predefine excellence in business performance.
Summing up the above-mentioned, it is necessary to stress that this project is aimed at detecting the entrepreneurs’ characteristics that stipulate successful construction of immense businesses. In addition, the goal of this paper is to verify the hypothesis that macroeconomic factors significantly affect businesses but do not play a decisive role in the entrepreneur’s excellence. In this respect, the findings imply that the hypothesis is correct: personal qualities of the businessmen are decisive objectives necessary for launching a company and maintaining sustainability in the modern world. Emphasizing the corresponding personal characteristics, one should highlight the ability to think independently from other people and be creative. At the same time, studying the performance of Jobs and Slim, it becomes clear that entrepreneurs are capable of forming precise visions regarding the ways of connecting opportunities with resources. Additionally, businessmen should stick to the field of their interest and be able to narrow and keep their activities in this plane. Furthermore, entrepreneurs must have well-developed inner and outer ego, which refers to robust motivation, bold ambitions, and strong inner locus of control. These qualities result in the formation of the strong corporate morals, which is important for constructing fruitful collaboration with all groups of stakeholders. Successful entrepreneurs are the true leaders, and thus, they maintain profound and preferably direct communication with people. At the same time, they tend to obtain strong control and ongoing monitoring over the working performance of their team. This approach increases the productiveness of working process and enables to detect the issues at a stage of their emergence. In terms of communication, these individuals are capable of building and maintaining profound interaction with customers that starts with creating new markets. In addition, they care about creating positive reputation that requires developing good communication with investors, employees, and communities. In addition, entrepreneurs can resist the phenomenon of loss-aversion, which implies that they can better use the risky opportunities. The above-mentioned personal characteristics determine good entrepreneurs and predefine their success.