Thinking Like a Successful Entrepreneur
I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one. – Mark Twain
Here are some random samplings of concepts and tools to help you spot opportunities and then capitalize on them.
The Formula for Entrepreneurial Success
The Inner Game +Entrepreneurial Savvy = Success
While this site focusses on the teaching you how to be a savvy entrepreneur who can create businesses with minimal resources, it’s imperative that you first ensure that there’s nothing holding you back or sabotaging your efforts. Almost everyone has doubts and fears which can act as a brake on their progress. Some of us need to work on these first before we can begin our startups. Learn more about getting into shape mentally before you start from our experts. Click here for the Entrepreneurial Inner Game.
Your Entrepreneurial “Sweet Spot”: Vitamins Versus Aspirins
The first question to ask when mulling over an opportunity is whether you are looking at selling vitamins or aspirins in the parlance of Silicon Valley? Vitamins are products or services which would be nice to have if the customer has any money left over after taking care of all the necessities of life. Aspirins, in contrast, are must have products or services which eliminate or reduce a serious pain in the life of a business or individual customer.
A returning vacationer who wants to import and sell the arts and crafts she saw in Cabo San Lucas has a “vitamin”. On the other hand, an entrepreneur who has developed a solution which will, for example, eliminate a manufacturing or logistical problem in a particular industry has an “aspirin”. Aspirin type products and services can also be developed for the consumer market.
Start-ups which focus on selling aspirins to either market do far better than those attempting to sell vitamins. A fatal mistake made all too often by rookie entrepreneurs is in mistaking a vitamin for an aspirin. Don’t over estimate other people’s need for your product or service.
The best way to identify a pain in need of an aspirin is through first-hand knowledge of the pain itself. Many entrepreneurs come up with aspirin products or services for a pain they witnessed while working for someone else in the same industry. Think about the problems faced by your current or last employer. What problems would they have gladly paid to make disappear?
For an example of the depth of industry insider understanding needed for developing an aspirin, read this article by a team of management consultants on the seafood processing industry.
One of the main lessons here is that you need to stick to industries you have experience in.
Control the Property
In the autobiographical documentary, The Kid Stays in the Picture, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans recounts the most important lesson he learned when first making the career switch from actor to producer: you must control the property. In Hollywood this meant having sole and exclusive control over a book’s movie rights. Without control the bigger players would always squeeze you out of the deal.
In entrepreneurship this drama plays itself out over and over. A first time entrepreneur gets a shot at a new opportunity and precisely because it’s an unproven technology or market the big players at first sit back and watch the results. If the venture fails, the big players think to themselves, “I told you so, kid.” If on the other hand the venture looks as if it’s onto something, the big players quickly marshall their resources to put the small entrepreneur out of business and take over the venture.
In today’s hyper-competitive world entrepreneurs must not only beware of other small players entering entrepreneurial traffic, they must also recognize that the business world equivalent of a big Mack truck can broadside them at any moment.
As Intel’s Andy Grove puts it, “Only the paranoid survive.”
Understanding How Technology Evolves is a Must for the Entrepreneur
Read this important piece.
Stay tuned for more as this section is growing weekly.
While an MBA isn’t required to be a successful entrepreneur, the knowledge gained is a huge advantage. Consider an online mba degree.