A few thoughts on entrepreneurship

Written on 23 September 2018, 02:55pm

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Some thoughts about succeeding with your start-up:

  • It’s the idea that matters, not the money. Money is relatively easy to get, what’s more difficult to have is a brilliant idea for your startup. 
  • But to get money you need a business case. This forces you to analyse and validate your idea. Of course, more than 99% of the ideas will be either not feasible or simply rubbish. Nobody will give you money for free, and going through the analysis required by a business case increases the chances that the money are well spent. 
  • Risk management is essential. After your idea takes contour and you have the necessary funding, it’s all about managing the risks. Start with identifying your assets, look at their vulnerabilities and the possible threats. Then perform a proper risk assessment (likelihood and impact) and manage the risks (mitigate, transfer, avoid, accept). Keep looking at the risks and the implemented controls periodically; it’s likely that you will play in an always evolving environment where the risk landscape always changes.
  • Always be better. Just because you have something out there (a product or a service) doesn’t mean that it will necessarily bring profit. Keep asking yourself what needs does it fill, and how these needs will evolve. Keep asking yourself if your product or service still brings value. You need to adapt to survive.  

A discussion from my first year of university (2000) stuck with me until now. I was chatting to one of the older students who was already leading his own business and was doing the university more out of curiosity. I understood the value of an idea when he told me that he is ready to go with me to the bank and get money, as long as I am coming up with a business idea that can be implemented. Needless to say, after a few tries we both concluded that there’s no need to bother the bank, and for the following years I kept thinking about good business ideas that never came.

Fast forward to 2012, and I was involved with a couple of friends into my first and only startup so far. We had an idea and we had the energy to build it ourselves. And we did it, and then we launched it. And boy, it was working! But soon, everything fell apart. As soon as the software product was built, we needed sales people to move things forward. We were engineers trying to solve a sales problem and not realizing that all we needed was to go to the bank and ask for money.

So in the end, doing the 4 things above offers no guarantee that you will succeed. Doing the right things at the right time takes practice. And that only comes after repeated failures.