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How do you get started?

I'm entrepreneurs how do you become successful? How would you maintain a stable business that is sustainable? #entrepreneurship

+25 Karma if successful
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Subject: Career question for you

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G. Mark’s Answer

Let me go through the essential steps I lay out for my students on entrepreneurship.

1) Find a problem to be solved. This sounds obvious, but trust me, a very many people, and even my students, do not have any idea how to do this. Even entrepreneurs who are on the road of building their company do not give nearly enough attention to this. And since they start with a passionate outlook, which is absolutely essential, they are already married to their idea and unlikely to let go of it or modify it. The problem must be significant, worth working on, and something that will generate enough interest to keep it afloat. Note I said, "Keep it afloat," rather than "turn a profit." The fact is that 86 percent of startups never even break even. But I include anything you do -- including charity work which is not intended to make a profit, but is intended to satisfy a need. You may be making the world a better place, but you must at least be able to continue to do so.

2) Write a business plan. This includes your problem statement, your fiscal plan, where you intend to get your support and money and other resources, your schedule, your market and target customers, and importantly...

3) ... your contingencies for any of these milestones failing.

4) Be open-minded. Be open to criticisms. These may be much more important than "statements of support". Your worst perceived "enemies" might be the friends of your success if they provide input that causes you to change your tactic to a more successful one. Search for critics. Search for experienced people.

5) Be prepared for failure, for fatigue, for loss, for exhaustion. You must be passionate to overcome these things. You must be prepared to exhaust resources, money, and friends. Yes, your friends will not necessarily be as dedicated to your vision as you do.

6) Be prepared to be "fast on your feet". The world -- and your market -- are not static, by any means.

You need to research the competition, the market, the technology niche... you might wake up on Monday and see that your solution is no longer needed. If you don't understand a new technology or market, find someone who does. Ask for help. Ask for criticism (there it is again!).


Once you do all that, look for support. Peddle your business plan to the world (have them sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement), if there's information in there that you'd rather competition not have!). Once you've passed the test of public scrutiny and can convince others -- Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, Friends, Relatives.... look for support. This includes your primary staff (maybe just you) and employees and folks whose advice you can rely on.


But keep in mind that the stress of a new venture is tremendous. The market is sand shifting beneath your feet many times. Look at your original vision and consider whether you're changing it for a good reason or just losing confidence and out of desperation. I've been in more than one startup where the founders lost confidence and meandered away from an original good concept to failure.


These will be trying times, but if you succeed -- not just making money, but having an adventure at giving a worthwhile goal your all, striving for something you know is important to someone -- you'll never, ever lose that.

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Bo’s Answer

Hi Nolan - Let me start by saying I have very little experience as an entrepreneur; however, I have recently spent a fair amount of time looking into entrepreneurship. I have found the following book extremely helpful: The Personal MBA - by Josh Kaufman. I think it gives a very practical account of how to understand businesses and how to get started - putting an idea on paper, taking the first steps, testing your ideas etc... It's a very easy read as well as it is written in a very straight forward fashion. I have no affiliation with the author the book, I just find it very informative.

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