I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about what benefit formal education of entrepreneurship could offer. From my experience, entrepreneurship has been a “eureka!” moment followed by intense research, late hours working, very little sleep, and using the strength of intuition to take that idea to a given market. I’ve applied that same “gut instinct” to business development on my own as well as within a corporation. With so much of it coming from within - intuition, gut feelings, persistence, determination - how much could I really learn in a classroom?
A lot it seems.
There are a number of great resources that aspiring entrepreneurs can use to consistently find valuable information. Here are some that I’ve found, and please comment with others you use as “go to” sources for thought provoking information.
The most recent chapter of Founders at Work was very especially interesting. The chapter was the interview with Arthur van Hoff, cofounder of Marimba as well as Strangeberry. Some of the quotes from van Hoff I wanted to share with you.
Have you ever had a book that just seemed to take far longer to finish than you expected? I’ve experienced this with the book that I’ve promised to have finished by now, Founders at Work. It’s not finished yet. While it sounds critical, it really isn’t. In fact, it’s a compliment. This is a book that I’m reading thoroughly and taking notes on. It really is fascinating to get inside the minds of entrepreneurs that have lived the dream (more than once in some cases). So, thank you for your patience on a full review on that as it may take another week or two to get through.
In the interim, and as a person that needs to feel like I’m meeting short-term benchmarks, I was able to pretty quickly read through E-Myth Revisited. This was a good read. The primary points I pulled from this are:
It’s been a week since I posted, but all week my mind has been focused on what kind of business I want to build. In the past, the businesses I built were sparked by something. I had the idea first, based on a clear opportunity, and set out to build it. Businesses I’ve grown have been grown in a similar fashion, meaning I identified clear opportunities to pursue expansion and pursued them. This will be the first time I have set the goal of creating a business without knowing what business it is first.
This is an interesting and challenging thought process. It is certainly a difficult process. I’m sure that I’m not the only person to decide they are going out on their own before they know exactly what the end game is. That being said, I don’t personally know anyone that’s gone through this process so I’m sorting it out on my own at this point.
Here are a couple things I’ve tried:
With my new book, Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days, I couldn’t have found a better book for the purposes of the research I am currently doing. Jessica Livingston, the author, does exactly what I am setting out to do over the course of the next 6 - 12 months. She meets with the founders of these extraordinarily successful startups and picks their brain to uncover what they’ve learned. There’s no better way to learn how to do something well than hearing from people that have already done it well. This book is accelerating my learning curve dramatically.
So far, I’ve read the interviews with Max Levchin of PayPal, Sabeer Bhatia of Hotmail, and Steve Wozniak of Apple. All three offer valuable insights for entrepreneurs.
As I referenced in a previous writing, Inc. Magazine’s cover leads with “Bring On The Entrepreneurs!” It caught my attention and I skimmed through it looking for the best to share with you. The main article, "Revitalizing the American Dream," lays out a 16 point plan to create a million new jobs through entrepreneurship. The plan contains some great elements to it, including entrepreneurship education improvements, strategic tax incentives, and modernizing government. It also has some elements that I don’t believe will have a significant impact on job (or business) creation. For example, I don’t accept the premise that refusing to enforce non-compete agreements and passing a piece of energy legislation that "set[s] a price on carbon emissions and mandate[s] less-polluting energy sources, more efficient vehicles, and better mass transit" is the key to unleashing innovation. I felt the best aspect of the plan was the emphasis on education in the article, "Entrepreneurship Education for All." The basic premise is that entrepreneurship education should not be limited to b-school and should be taught to everyone, including engineers and art students, to spur innovation across all industries.
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