Saturday, September 3, 2011

Entrepreneurship - Notes

GRASP Start-up Weekend - Bran (July 2011)

Here are the notes I took while participating in the GRASP Start-up Weekend meeting this July. I believe they apply to any person looking to take control over his or her (professional) life, not only to those who we commonly refer to as entrepreneurs. For instance, one can have an entrepreneurial spirit in pro-actively managing his education, his career or act as an intrapreneur by employing resources from an organization to develop new ventures inside it. For me, all of the elements below define a free, action and growth oriented spirit.

1. What kind of profiles does a business need? 

All three:
  • Entrepreneur - breaks the rules, risks
  • Manager - predictable improvement
  • Administrator - keep it working
As nobody is perfect, always work with people who are better than you at least in one area.

2. What does an entrepreneur need? 

  • Business plan:
    • More than a business plan it needs a market analysis (simple: Google, ask  for information and feedback wherever you go. Test your product before you do it). Niche! Segment market!
    • Start slim. Favour contractual relations:
      • Don't have employees
      • Don't have co-owners
      • Own 100% as long as possible
      • Worst: 50%-50% due to lack of decision power
    • Write your business plan like you want to sell your business
    • Elevator pitch - brief and clarity of ideas
    • Don't overestimate revenue and don't underestimate costs
    • Write then get feedback - test it before you implement it
    • Bring an idea from outside - if you can copy, don't reinvent the wheel
    • Define your product, your market, your network, your selling and your growth strategy
    • Don't stick with the business plan but have it handy as a baseline
  • Credibility:
    • Most important: business today is done based on trust
    • Built in time
    • Who is your mentor and who is your advisor? Board of trustees.
    • People you want to know always talk to you when you are a student. When you are in business, they think you want to sell something - the true value of an MBA is access to these people.
    • How to build and maintain credibility:
      • Keep people informed of what you do. Send emails from time to time to cultivate relations, not necessary to ask for something.
      • Send information that might be useful to them
      • Say thank you
      • Reply immediately to emails and phone calls
      • Send emails to people after you meet them

"Tell me what you have done and who you are associated with and I'll tell you who you are".
  • Money:
    • Cultivate relations with bankers and lawyers.
    • More important than a refusal is to know why you were refused. Ask for feedback.
    • Sources of money:
      • Personal funding
      • Angel investment
      • Venture Capital
      • Banks
  • Think big and global:
    • How would it transform your business by growing it not by 30% but by 1000% or 10000%. Bringing ideas to the extreme reveals marginal forces and ideas one may not take into consideration. Forces prioritization.
    • The world is not only Romania or Western Europe. It is also USA, the Arab countries, Russia, China, India, Japan, South America, Africa. How can we extend to these countries? Distant worlds may need my expertise more than the people around me.

3. Personal traits:
  • Self disciplined
  • Curious. Quick learner.
  • Writes ideas down - get into the habit of writing down everything you think about. Plan your week, plan your day, plan your next year. In writing. Write names. Calendar meetings and activities. Ideas. Catalogue sources of information. 
  • Thinker and doer - think first and prototype quick. Rework. Incorporate feedback. Prototype and deliver something fast.
    • Who are my early adopters?
    • Who can benefit immediately? (company / person)
    • Develop in collaboration
  • Courageous
  • Passionate
  • Forward thinker: how can this concept work without me? 
  • Servant mentality: not what I want to do but how can my business help others? This gives purpose which, in terms, helps people self propel in times of hesitation. It helps define the mission which, in terms, is the goal for strategy and tactics and a major motivation factor. Who are we? - What is my motivation? Leader = agent of change.

4. True value of an MBA:
  • Understand the language of business
  • Know and network with business people who wouldn't talk to you unless you are a student
  • Create mental models for reality checks

And since we also took pictures there, here is another one:

Bran, Romania

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