10 tips for adopting the right entrepreneurial mindset


10 tips for adopting the right entrepreneurial mindset

I genuinely believe that entrepreneurship is both a science and an art. The science will fast track your success but won’t get you there. The art will get you there but will take you a lot of time as you stumble through mistakes and learn the science along the way. Of course the path to success involves both.

Being in the online education space as the founder of eduudle, an online massive open online course (MOOC) aggregation platform, and having done my masters focusing on entrepreneurship, innovative business models, and multi-sided platforms, I love involving multimedia in learning. In future posts, I hope to go through each of these 10 commandments in detail, involving MOOCs and YouTube videos that can help startups get to where they need to go.  

Here are my 10 commandments for iterating towards success:

  1. Know thyself: Before deciding to start a company, the most important thing of all is to understand yourself: what you care about, your weaknesses and strengths, what keeps you up at night, what you’re passionate about. That takes time; you’ll probably start your first idea without putting introspection first, but when if it fails, you might understand that the idea wasn’t the best fit for you. It’s not because you failed, or that you gave up, but you’ll learn about yourself in the process. That’s smart.

  2. Dare to dream: Your success is a function of how big your dream is. Are you just another copy-cat, or do you dream of changing the world? Which dream do you think will help you attract the best team on the planet, and where do you think VC money will flow?

  3. Get technical: It drives me nuts when a co-founder defines his or her role as the owner of the idea and they want to hire a team to implement it. Know this for a fact: ideas are worth nothing. Share them when possible and you’ll be lucky if someone gives you feedback. If you don’t prove your technical worth, often no one will join you. 

  4. Execute quickly: It’s incredibly easier to kick-start a business today than it was 10 years ago. One of the last things you should focus on in the very beginning is a business plan or financial model. Well, it’s good to have a plan and a model, but once you execute it, you’ll realize that the plan is bound to change. It’s better to iterate often in the beginning and evolve your plan based upon testing, rather than stick to a piece of paper.  

  5. Iterate fast: It’s critical to adopt a culture of experimentation and adapt quickly to stakeholders’ feedback. One of my mentors was one of the first people to join HP and Intel and then moved to set up a Venture Capital firm in Silicon Valley. Based on a study he conducted with a team of other VCs, he concluded that startups that don’t pivot within the first six months after their seed fundraising round end up failing.

  6. Build a likeminded and excellent, yet diverse co-founder team: A “B” team with an “A” idea in an “A” market will likely be too slow to execute. An “A” team with a “B” idea in a “B” market might execute more quickly, pivoting and finding a niche where they can wipe out existing competition. An “A” team includes those who are just that much more passionate and skilled than the average of their peers. It’s also important to seek a world-class advisory board of experienced individuals who are willing to chip in personal contacts and resources when they can.

  7. Hustle: Never take ‘no’ for an answer. If you’re crazy enough to think you can change the world, some of the rational people around might write you off as mad. Always ask the question “what would it take you to…?”, adding “join the team,” “give us free service,” “buy our product,” “finance the startup” …etc. They’ll give you a milestone to hit; once you do so,  get back to them. The more you can convince those around you that it’s worthwhile, the better you’ll be able to pitch to potential investors and partners.

  8. Persevere: There is no such thing as an overnight success story. There was a team in Finland that built 51 online/mobile games. Most of them failed, some had mediocre performance and their 52nd attempt was the infamous Angry Birds.

  9. Continue to learn: Luckily, we live in an age when access to information is becoming cheaper and cheaper, thanks to Google and the like. Even better, education is becoming a human right for all., as companies like Coursera, Udacity, edx, Udemy and 50+ others are bringing world-class education to anyone, anytime, anywhere. While this makes it easier to learn about the latest technologies and methodologies out there, it also makes it easier for your competition. By the time you’ve graduated from university, what you’ve learned may already be outdated, so be sure to endorse a lifelong learning lifestyle as an individual and at your startup.

  10. Share your own 10 commandments: When you learn from a mistake, write it down and share it with others so that you make sure not to repeat the mistake again. Hopefully, you’ll have your own 10 commandments for each stage of the business. 

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