Some time ago I made a presentation at Colab Athens about entrepreneurship. I called it an Entrepreneur’s Primer and back then was intended to be an introduction to basic entrepreneurship concepts to aspiring young people. I saw it as a way to give back to the startup community some of my experience in venturing in Greece. The presentation was built around questions & answers, trying to shine some light to hard core entrepreneurship concepts. In this post I will try to update this Q&A and make it a bit more relevant to the current trends.
So… am I an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneur is a fashionable word these days and people love to tag themselves with words in fashion! But wait, before you call yourself an entrepreneur, you need to understand what is really an entrepreneur and realise that it is all about selling your ideas to make money.
Being an entrepreneur is not as selfish as it sounds, don’t forget that when you eventually manage to sell, the customers perceive they are getting more value than the money they give you. They are buying your services or your products because they satisfy their emotions, you make them happy! Look around you and see the products that you have bought and remember your emotions when you bought them!
Where should my business be?
This is a usual question that you hear from people who are involved in startups, any other entrepreneur knows very well where the business should be: where the money is, the customers are and where partners exist.
If you are involved in a startup that is aiming either to be bought by another company or to be funded by VCs and take the road for an IPO, the answer is quite straight forward as well. In this respect, perhaps your customers are the companies that will buy you or the VCs that will fund you… they have the money too! 😉
How do I venture?
Well, the global recipe is: money, team and trial & error. Yes, you do need money to venture and don’t think that you will easily find someone else who will give you his money for your venture. Would you do it for someone else?
To bootstrap a venture, apart from his own money, an entrepreneur can find money from banks (like credit cards and loans), from family, friends and the so called fools… the FFFs! Unless you are a lifestyle entrepreneur, you definitely need a team, a group of people that will venture with you either as your partners or as your employees. Please note that contractors or freelancers should not be considered as your team, they are there to make some money, not to take a risk with you!
Trial & error has a fancy name nowadays, especially around web and mobile startups, it is called lean startup methodology. It is nothing else but listening to your customers and changing your original idea to fulfil their needs, i.e. make them happy! Following the lean method, you need to build the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and test it with real customers before you go to the market.
Cool! What can go wrong?
Well… everything! Your team breaks up, your competitor beats you, technology changes and you are left behind, partners lose trust, money runs out, government changes the rules… It can become quite frustrating to tackle it when things really go wrong… you fall in love, team-mate decides to become a priest, you win the jackpot, you live in Greece! 😀
@#$%!!… who can help???
You! An entrepreneur is alert, you need to constantly look-listen-learn the environment around you. Be ready to adapt and change every aspect of your venture. Also, today you can take advantage of a plethora of self help from the internet, you can find coaches, mentors and professionals.
So… is it worth it?
if you are an entrepreneur, if you love change, if you are creative, if you rock…