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Monday, December 30, 2019

How Jamestown Descendants Used an Entrepreneurial Mindset to Survive and Thrive by Hilton Barrett * [20]

Circa late 16th century, the Old World -- the early era of colonization. Why did our ancestors leave England to establish a colony in the New World? Why would they leave the “safe” conditions of England for unknown lands?

Most of England’s populace was ‘country folk’ with little education and even fewer choices as to life decisions. The vast majority of the people were peasants and received little education and had few vocational opportunities beyond being a peasant. There were comparatively few families we would call middle class. London was overcrowded due to a population boom plus arrival of peasants who could not find reasonable employment in the countryside. It was congested with an overwhelming stench. In society, self-indulgence was rampant, rudeness ruled, and social disintegration was evident. Corruption was rampant, at all levels of society.

Religion and church were major issues. The establishment Catholic Church was being challenged by Protestants. Europe and England were intensely divided over religion. Religious and social factions were under increasing attack from each other in England.

Spain had a head start in colonization and trade in the New World. England was becoming isolated and offered limited options for its people. England needed to expand its domain and how it viewed opportunities outside its sphere. Colonization in the New World was a means to increase its treasury and influence.

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent two ships to the New World to establish a colony. Once established, shiploads of settlers would be sent to expand England’s domain. On July 4th, 1584, the ship sighted land – a long sand bar off the North Carolina coast. They went through an inlet and onto what is now known as Roanoke Island. They discovered a fruitful land and kind natives. The queen claimed all of America north of Florida as English property. Alas, the area was bountiful as to cropland but had none of the gold and silver found by the Spaniards in the areas now known as Mexico and Peru.

Were the colonists in America victims of the political and religious uproar within England and much of the rest of Europe? Relating to the power of the Church of England, there is evidence that the colonists were ‘separatists’ and did not receive the necessary support from the government and religious sector within England.

Given this historical setting, what are the profiles of people who would take the risk of moving their families to a new land of which little was known? Our premise is that these trailblazers exhibited traits that today we would call entrepreneurial and value creating.

These settlers had to fend for themselves under harsh conditions. They exhibited similar intrapreneurial characteristics that business practitioners might use to start a venture within a corporate structure. According to Covin & Slevin (1991), corporate entrepreneurship behavior is based on three key tenets: 1) innovation (launch concepts that have not been done before), 2) risk-taking propensity (go out on a limb since that is where the fruit is), and 3) proactiveness (take appropriate action in anticipation of future problems or needs).

According to Blue Ocean Outsource (2019), there are five major theories of entrepreneurship: economic, resource-based, opportunity-based, sociological, and psychological. The latter perspective (psychological) is representative of trait theory.

Trait theory can be expressed in numerous ways. For example, the “Trait Theory of Entrepreneurial Leadership” consists of twelve attributes in five trait-related areas (Erkkila, 2000):

  > creative, imaginative, and flexible

  > autonomous and high locus of control

  > achievement-oriented, diligent, initiative-directed, and problem-solving

  > leadership and persuasiveness

  > risk-taking (moderate)

With respect to the Jamestown colony, consider the following scenario:  

1    They were dissatisfied with their position in life and their opportunities.

2    They held religious beliefs which supported the ‘leap of faith’ to a better life for self and family.

3    They had a strong belief in themselves and what they could accomplish given the opportunity. They had a high locus of control (they, not outside factors, were basis for their success). 
In sum, they had the ability to understand their options, a degree of sociability (worked well with others), an ability to understand what were their feasible options, were accepting of moderate risks, tolerance of others and their ideas, and need for dominance when required, and industriousness. They believed in their own abilities to accomplish ambitious goals.

Failure was a learning process. They had a low need for conformity (after all, how many would have taken the risk to leave England and come to America?) Psychologically, they had or developed planning and problem-solving abilities. They had a high level of energy and willingness to work hard. And perhaps most importantly, they developed the ability to accept change.

As history revealed, the original colony did not survive. However, the commitment to colonize America had been established. In 1607, the London Company sent a colony that did become the first English settlement in America – Jamestown on the James River in Virginia. 

The characteristics of the original colonists and those who settled Jamestown had the same decision making and belief profile of the group of people we, today, call entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are not just people starting businesses, they are people who recognize and nurture new ideas that benefit society.


Blue Ocean Outsource (2019), Theories of entrepreneurship: traits of an entrepreneur, April 4,

Covin, J.G. & Slevin, D.P. (1991), A conceptual model of entrepreneurship behavior as firm behavior, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice 16 (1), 7-26.

Erkkila, K. (2000), Entrepreneurial Education, NY: Garland.

* Dr. Hilton Barrett is a Professor of Business (Retired) at Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina. A renowned entrepreneurship scholar, Dr. Barrett is published in leading journals in marketing, management, strategy, and innovation. Dr. Barrett resides in close proximity to the original Jamestown settlement and gives historical talks on this subject. He may be reached at

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

10 Tips for Designing a Market Research Questionnaire by Herb Brotspies and Suri Weisfeld-Spolter * [19]

Finding superior customer value often requires market research to solve a problem, identify an opportunity, or understand customer behavior.  Both qualitative and quantitative market research are useful tools.  In quantitative market research, survey design can be a challenge. Writing a useful questionnaire is part art and part science.  The purpose of a questionnaire is to gather marketing information that helps you make an informed decision.  Once you have decided on the objectives of the market research, how you will use the information, who your respondent target is, and any decision criteria, it is time to draft the questionnaire. Here are 10 helpful guidelines:

1.      Include a brief (2 or 3 sentences) introduction to the questionnaire telling the respondent about the questionnaire, thanking the respondent, detailing the estimated time to completion and assuring respondents of the confidentiality of their answers. This will help increase the response rate.

2.      Begin the survey with a screening question(s), to make sure the person you are going to interview is qualified to answer your questions. You want people that are familiar with your product/brand/ service/topic to be participating in the survey. The key to the qualifying question(s) is that if the respondent’s answer is ‘no’ to being familiar with or using the product or service, then the survey is terminated and the person does not participate. (Example: I am interested in the perception of Tesla customer service among Tesla electric car owners. My questionnaire targets are current or former Tesla owners. Therefore, my screening questions could be: “Do you currently own a Tesla?”  If yes, continue with the survey.  If no, ask, “Have you ever owned  a Tesla?”  If yes, continue, if no, terminate.) 

3.      As you develop questions, ask yourself the following to determine if you should use each question: “Does each question produce information that is necessary to address the research objectives of the study?”  If the answer is no, do not include the question. 

4.      Use a variety of survey question types including ratings, rankings, forced choices, and semantic differential scales, to answer your research questions.  Keep in mind the types of questions you ask may limit the method of analysis and quality of the information you can get from analyzing the data.

5.      Related to point four, consider using Likert-type questions when measuring attitude and satisfaction.  They are easy to construct and easy for respondents to fill out.  (Example: Please indicate your level of agreement with the following statements using the 1 to 5 scale below).

6.      When using semantic differential questions, make sure that the descriptors are true opposites of each other.  Semantic differential scales use polar opposites that respondents are asked to choose from to best describe something.  For example, weak and strong, indecisive and decisive, cheap and expensive.  Picking the wrong opposite can yield misleading results.

7.      Demographic questions go at the end of the questionnaire unless key demographics are required for screening respondents in or out. Ask demographic questions that are relevant to your research.  These might include age, income, family size, employment status, geographical location, and other information.  These answers will provide useful cross tab analysis by showing response differences between men and women, purchase interest in a product by income level, or influence of family size on product attributes.

8.      Be sure that response categories have no problems with mutual exclusiveness. (Example: Your age choices should not be 18-25 and 25-30 because if someone is 25, which category do they belong to?)  Also be sure categories have equal breaks.  For example, the age break of 18-24 has seven ages so all of the age breaks should have seven age breaks.

9.      The questionnaire should be easy to complete with clear instructions, clear and simple wording and be neat looking.  For example, if a respondent answers a particular question with a no, they are clearly directed to a different follow-up question than if they answered yes. (The pretest will help with this part!)

10.  Always pretest!  But be sure to pretest among the target respondents.  If you are conducting research among mothers with children who are heavy users of laundry detergent testing the questionnaire among college students will give you misleading results. 

* Herb Brotspies is an Adjunct Professor of Marketing (Retired) at Nova Southeastern University. For further information, contact Dr. Brotspies at  Suri Weisfeld-Spolter, Ph.D., is a Professor of Marketing  at Nova Southeastern University. She can be reached at

How a North Star Metric Can Guide Stellar Business Performance [18]

[The North Star Metric (NSM) is the single metric that best captures the core value that your product delivers to customers. Optimizing your efforts to grow this metric is key to driving sustainable growth across your full customer base.]  Sean Ellis

           A new and powerful measure that impacts marketing performance (revenue generation and profits) is the North Star Metric (NSM), born in Silicon Valley. Examples of North Star Metrics include Facebook’s daily active users and Airbnb’s night bookings for hosts and guests. An NSM is a single item metric that calculates the overall value that your products and services deliver to customers. Companies using this innovative approach must identify sub-variables that can positively move this measure – e.g., inquiries, user signups, new user activations, customer journey assessments and engagement and retention measures (Ellis, 2017).
Bucky Barlow brilliantly explains this idea: “Like its namesake Polaris in the sky, your North Star Metric is the one that you can count on to help make your way home. When you look up at the sky, Polaris isn’t the first star you see. It’s not the brightest star in the sky either. But because it’s located almost directly above the North Pole, you can use it to navigate effectively.”  He adds three key points: 1) a NSM metric drives a magical, “a-ha” moment from the customer that drives sustainable growth, 2) it’s likely that your NSM isn’t a flashy number such as Facebook likes or Twitter followers and 3) a focus on a single number can energize an organization as all employees know what needs to be accomplished (Barlow, 2017). 
          Since we can’t measure everything, the challenge is to focus on those metrics that truly impact business performance. As an example, a travel provider in the time share industry concentrated on four functional areas -- operations, production, customer service and marketing/ business development. For the marketing department, the most important measure dealt with pitch-rate conversion of weekly unit purchases – sales call to sales close ratio; the objective was to improve from one-in-seven prospect closes to one-in-six. This key measure was their North Star metric.
The North Star metric can be thought of as your Most Important Thing (MIT). For Hubspot, this is providing abundant killer content for Marketer Marys and Owner Ollies in the B2B marketspace. For Go Daddy, its MIT is website service usage by small and mid-sized businesses. What is the one true metric that is the basis for your business success (or failure)?                         
Ellis, S. (2017). What is a North Star metric?, June 5,  
            Barlow, B. (2017). What, why, how: the North Star metric, September 22,

This blog post is the 10th in a series extracted from Superior Customer Value – Finding and Keeping Customers in the Now Economy, 4th Ed. (2019, Routledge Publishing/ Taylor & Francis). For further information, contact Art Weinstein at , 954-309-0901, .    

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