When you contemplate starting up a high growth, tech-centric, enterprise, there are some key attributes of the entrepreneur and team that are really critical to success.
Connected to the entrepreneurial community: There are many non-profit, for profit and government programs to help educate, support and connect the emerging entrepreneur to help them be successful. If you’re not networking in these groups, getting to know other entrepreneurs, learning from them, meeting key (venture experienced) service providers, then you are making things much, much harder for yourself! You also make yourself much less likely to be viewed as a credible entrepreneur, and therefore you’re much less likely to get the support, partners, friends and funding that you need. VentureWrench.com has a curated library of resources by state including these entrepreneurial support organizations.
Array of Skills: You need a team with a variety of skill sets – a ‘technical only’ company leader will not be able to be successful, likewise someone who is ‘business only’ won’t be able to keep up with the technical issues, nor understand if the technical team is really able to perform the needed tasks. The core founding team needs to have both business and technology skills embedded along with deep mutual trust and respect. You can’t “glue on” either of these aspects.
Who Cares? A focus only on the “cool technology” will not get far. You see this sometimes with individual inventors who think that a patent on their “big idea” is going to magically make them rich – this is never the case! The team has to be able to focus on the markets and customer needs of any invention. This is one of the challenges of university-based research – the invention emerges out of intellectual curiosity and (usually) Federally funded research, not necessarily out of the needs of “someone” (aka a customer) and therefore may not ever really align with a market. Sometimes these end up as “solutions looking for a problem”. Constantly communicating with customers and potential partners helps prevent this!
Get Rich Slow – and Work Hard: Some entrepreneurs are focused on “get rich quick”. Entrepreneurship is really a get rich (pretty) slow process – because the incubation of most companies that explode onto the scene was many years before they become well known. If you’re plan is a quick flip, there are occasionally these opportunities, but they’re not wealth creation, they’re wealth transfer. I prefer wealth creation!
Be able to take good advice: Being an entrepreneur requires a tremendous vision and passion, and strong sense of self confidence and ability to “stick to it” even in the face of naysayers. Most successful entrepreneurs can tell many stories of the “powers that be” that discounted the (eventually) successful new idea in the early stages. At the same time, this must be balanced by the ability to take wise advice when needed. A successful entrepreneur will build a team of trusted advisers (such as lawyers and accountants) and boards (both Directors and Advisers) whose advice they will at least listen to! If you find that you NEVER take anyone else’s advice, you are headed down a slippery slope – no one can know everything!
Only 1 Big Idea? A successful entrepreneurial team will have a SERIES of good ideas – all related to the market and customer needs. An entrepreneur with “1 Big Idea” may make a good product, but won’t be able to build a real company!
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