Winning Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs – Part 1

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I have had the good fortune of being invited frequently to speak to groups of students (Undergrads and MBAs), and at various trade and industry forums throughout the USA, and even throughout China and in Dubai.  I always end my talks with a slide entitled Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs.

It’s my small way of evangelizing entrepreneurship and giving a nudge to those who are trying to muster the courage to start their own businesses.  The slide contains 9 bullets of advice.  Here are the first 5:

Integrity – What do you have if you don’t have integrity?  Say what you do and do what you say.  Do the right thing.  Integrity is the basis of trust which is the basis of all relationships, business and otherwise.  It can’t be faked. And, at the end of the day, you want to be able to sleep soundly at night.  Everyone wants to work with high integrity people, so always operate with the highest degree of integrity.

Do It Now – So many aspiring entrepreneurs are waiting for the exact “right moment” to start their business.  Well, I’ve got news for you.  The “right moment” is NOW.  Why wait? When you think about it, the worst thing that can happen is you fail, and you go back and get a job.  But the learnings you will have amassed are priceless.  With the economy and markets flat these days, a resourceful entrepreneur with a great idea and execution capability can be very successful.  Competitors and established players are in disarray and “playing defense.”  They are cutting costs, and trying to figure out their next pivot while you can start with a blank slate and make a market.  Go for it!

Great People – You can’t win without having a great team around you.  That goes for business, as well as sports, war, etc.  Surround yourself with the very best talent you can recruit for your crusade.  Great people are worth multiples of what you pay them, so take your time and find excellent associates who know how to deliver and who share your passion and values.

Focus on Your Customer – Too many entrepreneurs get enamored with their product or invention, or processes and trivia which have little impact on their startup.  Not to pick on them, but I see this with a lot of engineers and techie entrepreneurs. You may have the best product, the coolest logo, and the most high powered investors and advisors, BUT without a customer, you do not have a business.  The most important thing entrepreneurs need to focus on is their customers, who they are, what they want or need, and how you can help them.  Thrill them and you will be successful.  This needs to be your #1 focus at the beginning, and throughout the life of your company.

Be Flexible – Business plans are awesome.  I have seen many dozens of good ones.  I am a big proponent of planning, because the very act of planning helps you and your team think through challenges and scenarios, etc. and you learn tons through the process. But one thing is certain:  nothing ever turns out as planned.  Because of this, an entrepreneur needs to be flexible.  This could mean changing your solution, modifying your product, selling into a different market segment, etc.  The alternative, being inflexible, could be deadly to a startup.

Thanks very much for reading.  What do you think?  I’d love your feedback and thoughts, so please Comment below…and please sign up for my Blog too!  (See the Signup box on the sidebar of my Home Page)

Featured image courtesy of dierken licensed via creative commons.

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18 thoughts on “Winning Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs – Part 1

  1. Good article! Integrity is my numero uno quality of choice 🙂 Plus I totally appreciated being reminded about finding good people to work with. This is a current challenge of mine in my particular business so now I am motivated to resolve my need for working with those of the same ilk. Thank you for the post!
    Regards,
    Janice

    Like

  2. Thanks, Ziv Azmanov for the Comment on LinkedIn:

    Hello Tien,

    Thank you for the nice post and very good points. In particular, I like your points about integrity, great people, and the need to focus on your customers.

    Moreover, I agree with you that addressing your customers’ needs is a critical success factor for a start-up company, or any other company for that matter.

    In fact, Steve Blank states that most startups fail not because they don’t manage to develop and deliver a product to the market; they fail because they develop and deliver a product that no customers want or need.

    In my simple terminology, a good idea must address a real problem or a need that people (or businesses) have. It must address it better than any competing or alternative solution. That’s it. That’s the whole theory in a nutshell.

    Best Regards,
    Ziv.
    http://zivazmanov.blogspot.com/

    Like

  3. Another great post!

    Integrity and Do It NOW! Integrity is everything, without it, we are nothing.

    If you just suck it up and DO IT, so much can and will happen. My gramps says, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person. I think this is because that is the person who doesn’t have a “To Do” list a mile long or, in our age, an inbox FULL of unread e-mails; they Just Do It!

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  4. Tien,

    Another great post, and wonderful advice for the aspiring entrepreneur. I look forward to seeing the other 4 points.

    When I address groups of CEOs, one of the points I stress in the context of customer focus is to always know the impact of the problems you solve for your client. Keep your focus sharp on the targets where you add the greatest value, and don’t get drawn into areas where you add marginal value. Too often I see companies with fantastic ideas, and great differentiation. But, they end up applying those talents to “me too” business with small margins, and questionable impact to the client. If you can have the discipline to only target clients where you can make the greatest difference, then you’ll always stand head and shoulders above the competition.

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  5. TIen…..Another winner 4 U! 4 the readers of your blog. The 1st co. I started was called: Entrepreneur Network Intl., with the idea of uniting entrepreneurs worldwide. One problem, that was the year before the Internet was borm. Now entrepreneurs can connect, exchange ideas, get funding, guidance and insipiration from others like you, around the world. Is our economic time a challenging one: You bet! Can entrepreneurs add fuel to the economic engine and the hope of the entire economic landscape worldwide? Yes they.we can. ON Fri., Aug. Vint Cert will speak to the Capital CEO Forum. If he only knew what he and Bob Kahn were creating? Most start-ups today spring from the Internet…….all because of an idea and a concept brought to life. Ideas must come to light, so start-ups need support to get over the bumps. Gee, Tien, you’ve got me going…… Entrepreneurs rule! Thank you for your wisdom and your candor. Ciao, Teresa Moraska, CEO Warrior Communications & DreamStreet Media, Founder, Breakfast of Leaders/Capital Leaders Forum

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