*by Jordan Rose, LDRS 231**, Spring 2014
“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.” — Thomas Edison
Over these last couple of months I have read a lot of different articles and chapters from our class texts. Some of the concepts and ideas that I read about I was already familiar with. For example bootstrapping was a term that I have heard plenty of times, and I was familiar with the “four steps to the epiphany” (customer discovery, customer validation, customer creation and company creation) from reading a prior book by Steve Blank. I would have to say that I also learned a lot of new and different ideas as well, not only from the readings but also from the many guest speakers that we had in class, and from the volunteer judges that came to judge our pitches. I would have to admit that the biggest thing that I have learned over these couple of months is that you are never done learning about entrepreneurship and start-ups. Even if you might be familiar with an idea there is a side to it in which you can always learn something new. There was so much that we covered that I could go over and summarize so instead I wanted to leave you with the main ideas that had the biggest impact on me and I believe I will remember for years to come.
1. Get out of the building!
This saying is probably the biggest takeaway that I have taken from these past couple of months. It might not seem like much but I think it is one of the most important things for an entrepreneur to know. When you are building a company or an idea you can’t just hide away behind your desk and try to figure everything out on your computer. You need to get out into the real world and have face-to-face interviews and test whether you have a viable idea, whether there really is a market and if there is a customer segment waiting to use your product. Veronica Bosgraaf was the perfect example of getting out of the building. When she stumbled upon her idea she got out and got her hands dirty. She met with the suppliers, she personally went to the factories to see if her product could get produced and she personally went to the stores selling them on her bars.
2. A start-up is not like a normal company.
It is important to view a start-up differently then a normal company due to the fact that a start-up is not a smaller version of large company. Steve Blank states, “A start-up is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable and profitable business mode.” Large organizations operate with “knowns” while start-ups operate in “search” mode. For an entrepreneur who is beginning their start-up it is important to view their model as a canvass covered with ideas and guesses that can be changed. While in the midst of starting a business my partner and I read the book ReWork and it had a quote that I think every entrepreneur should know. It states,
“Why don’t we just call plans what they really are: guesses. Start referring to your business plans as business guesses, your financial plans as financial guesses and your strategic plans as strategic guesses. Now you can stop worrying about them as much. They aren’t worth the stress.”
3. The importance of the 10-second pitch.
Before this class my partner and I didn’t really have a 10-second pitch for our start-up. When trying to explain it we would always go into a long winded explanation where we would try to describe the whole idea in every detail to a person before we even knew if they were interested or not. It was amazing in the interviews that I conducted how much more I could get the person curious and more interested in the idea after giving the ten second pitch. You could also tell when someone was not quite as interested and you would have to dig a little deeper in order to get his or her attention.
4. Faith relates to entrepreneurship and leadership
Entrepreneurial leaders integrate innovation and implementation. The book Entrepreneurial Leadership states that entrepreneurial leaders also influence positive change when they introduce new products and services. As a Christian we need to do these things but at the same time remember what it means to be a Christian leader. Entrepreneurs are leaders. They are leaders of people, leaders of implementation and leaders of new ideas. It is important and also challenging to remember that we are put on this platform to glorify God and not ourselves. Our basis and groundwork should be rooted in God. We are called to be servants. This means that from a faithful entrepreneurial perspective we need to view our idea or product as a tool to serve and better others… not just a tool to better ourselves financially by hitting it big. You can be the “mensch” [from the book The Art of the Start] where one of your foundations is paying back for the good of society.
5. I can be called to be an entrepreneur.
I believe that God doesn’t want us to be satisfied with just the status quo. I think in a sense everyone is called to be an entrepreneur in a way. We are all called by God to approach life as an opportunity to use our skills that God has given us to better the world for the glory of God. Whether you are a nurse, a teacher, a CEO of large organization or somebody who starting their fifth start-up we all have the opportunity to have the entrepreneurial spirit. A teacher can be innovative and come up with a new way to teach a lesson that could be beneficial for all. A nurse could come up with a contraption for bed rested patient while on the clock. God wants us to use all of our abilities and skills and not just sit by and watch the norm pass by. Jesus tested the norm in the New Testament challenging the teachings of the Pharisees. In the same ways we can be entrepreneurs and find new and better ways to innovate products and practices and make this a better world to live in.
6. I can be more entrepreneurial.
One of the biggest things that I have learned over the last year is that I need to start thinking a little more outside of the box. There are times where my creative juices just don’t quite flow as well as they should and that at times can attribute to being contempt with the status quo. Surrounding yourself with fellow entrepreneurs and meeting with them to bounce ideas off one another and get feedback can be extremely helpful. Others will push you farther then you are willing to go at times keep you from being satisfied with an okay idea.
To learn more about CFL Incubator, click here.
**LDRS 231 is not a class about entrepreneurship, it is a class that does entrepreneurship. It is based on Steve Blank’s lean start-up process.
Photos — top-to-bottom: Matt of Petalcab, RingCam, Russell of RingCam, Jared of Sweetspot Wheels and I Tried My Best, Scott and Sam of RingCam, Matt of Kingdom Paradigm , and Matt of Fathom, Grace of Songs Against Slavery.