In a recently published book called “Intelligent Entrepreneur : “How Three Harvard Business School Graduates Learned The Ten Rules of Successful Entrepreneurship” (Henry Holt & Co.), Bill Murphy interviewed around 150 people, including a majority of HBS alumni entrepreneurs.
He came up with the conclusion that the founders with the most enviable outcomes have usually followed basic principles of entrepreneurship; most of them can be learned. In fact, education and experience can provide entrepreneurs with specific skills, attitudes and a fundamental base of knowledge.
Principle 1: Making a lot of money fast is not the first goal of entrepreneurs
The most significant principle of entrepreneurship success is to commit oneself deeply with the ideal of entrepreneurship itself, and then to a particular business model or service / product. This double commitment helps startuppers to react to market fluctuations, moving or abandoning business models, services or products that are not working well.
Testing several ideas or spending years searching for the right business idea is quite usual before coming up with the right one that matches the consumer needs.
Quite usual as well is the fact of working for other startups, getting into consulting or venture capital firms, or following more traditional careers in huge structures, before becoming an entrepreneur.
Principle 2: Find the right opportunity
The key challenge is to focus on finding customer problems first, and only then on searching for solutions that customers greatly need or want, rather than solutions that are nice to have.
The right solution often comes from your personal or / and professional experience as well as from your feelings, your sense of intuition and observation. That’s the only way of understanding whether there is a compelling need.
Principle 3: Build successful teams
Building great teams – your most important asset – is fundamental when starting a business. It starts by picking the right founder and combining the best skills.
Designing your team long before starting your activity is essential. It is the only way to reach profitability with the right people at the right place, altogether focused on the business model goals.
Make sure that your team has passion and love with its work in so far as strong passion is probably the first quality which is required for getting motivation, determination, constancy and courage, not to mention hard working and finally success.
Principle 4: Make sure that execution is critical
Entrepreneurship is difficult even when the idea is great, the team is good and conditions are ideal.
Executing well involves a combination of two factors :
First, balance your entrepreneur’s confidence in your business goals with you ability to make your team build the project step by step.
Second, keep on learning to motivate and lead people.
Leadership is undoubtedly a huge issue in entrepreneurship. Two main qualities are required.
The most successful entrepreneurs can work alone and be a team player, whatever the size of the team is. They can make a critical individual contribution to their venture and make that transition to leading their team.
The most successful entrepreneurs have the capacity for trusting their intuition and theirs instincts, even when they hurt conventional rules or habits. In that way, experiencing adversity develops self-confidence and a sort of visceral sense for the right way to do things.
Principle 5: Be aware of your impact
Successful entrepreneurship doesn’t seem to be about the money.
Many successful entrepreneurs don’t change their standards of living. As they are used to take risks, they don’t have that common fear of the future people usually share, especially in crisis times.
Of course, money is important, but in terms of ruling the business. And two things seem to be much more important :
Sharing with others the capacity for seizing the type of opportunities they enjoyed,
Doing work that has real impact on people’s lives.
Principle 6: Be aware of your social and economic role
Successful entrepreneurs have a specific mission which is to work for a better world. That’s true from several points of view :
Economical (raising the standards of living through innovation, contributing to global growth),
Financial (generating value and prosperity),
Organizational (transforming structures and organizations, rejuvenating technologies and competition),
Management (promoting new rules in leadership, risk management),
Employment (creating jobs, changing working habits),
Social (fostering collective thinking, cross-cultural exchanges, social mobility, tolerance, open-mindedness),
Environmental (raising the standards of environment and sustainable development).
Undoubtedly, these six basic principles of entrepreneurship are certainly the best vade mecum for those who want to understand or to integrate the high motivations that lead these pioneers in a valuable effort to make things move in our societies.
Gilles Bouchard – CEO
HBS Alumni & member of the European Entrepreneurship & Innovation @ Silicon Valley