Entrepreneurs, why the 2 main excuses to not jump are irrational
Juan David Mendieta Villegas
Entrepreneur | Shaping industries, growth strategist
If someone, lets say me, asks you, would you like to start your own startup? And your answer is yes, but your reasons for not starting are similar to this:
I am waiting until I have the right idea.
I am gaining experience first so that I can implement it in my own company.
This is a big mistake.
Entrepreneurship is a sport of contact
You don’t need an idea to make the jump and start as an entrepreneur, let me tell you why.
I had the chance to talk with a lot of high-level professionals under 35, consultants from McKinsey, business developers at Google Berlin and Ireland, software developers at Facebook London, and multiple so-called experts in sales and business model generation in the Benelux area and I asked them: would you like to become an entrepreneur to create your own startup?
The general answer among my target group was yes, but what it really struck me, was that when I asked them “what are you waiting for?” or “why are you not doing it?”, the reasons were not, “I don’t want to take the risk”, “I don’t have the financial capacity to quit my job”, or “I don’t feel that I have the skill”. Instead, I would say more than 90% of times I got an answer like: “I am waiting for that one idea that will allow me to jump” or “I am first going to learn a lot in my current job and then, with that knowledge, I will become an entrepreneur”.
And this is just fundamentally wrong.
Waiting for your brain to have an idea has a fundamental problem. That problem is that the way business models and innovation are created is not just because our intelligence gives us ideas but because we are capable of doing 2 things: connect dots and explore problems.
1) Connecting dots: Think of innovations, new business models and ideas as dots on this graph. The creation of new ideas in the present, whereby new dots appear at the top of the graph, comes from our capacity to take existing dots, abstract their best characteristics and create new models.
So how do we make sure we create models that can create value and be implemented? Well, for that you need to be at the edge of the understanding of the current level of innovation, it is that simple.
I keep on meeting people that come up with ideas that do not solve a real problem.
These people are what I called THE DREAMERS, they are constantly connecting dots that generate non-added value ideas because the dots that they use as a base are stuck in the middle (see graph).
We are living in the exponential era, where the speed of innovation is so fast that if you are not at the edge it seems that everything has already been invented and that innovation is out of your hands.
Individuals that are at the edge of what I call the line of experimentation, are called THE INNOVATORS. They are capable of understanding the latest technological advancements which are ready to be implemented and merged with new business models to create startups that actually solve problems.
2) And what about exploring problems? Well, people think that because they are experts in an industry or because they (will) have several years of experience, that they will able to spot a problem and also create a solution with a market match as a consequence.
The reality is that there is nothing like customer feedback. Entrepreneurship is a sport of contact. So for those of you that think that you cannot start until you randomly spot a problem, I give the following advice. Take 2 weeks off from your job, and do the following exercise.
Make a list of industries you have knowledge about or you like, sketch what is the value chain of those industries (basically try to understand how it works from beginning to final customer – you will need to go and talk with real people) and make a list of the decision makers on each of the steps.
Finally, try to understand which problems these decision makers are facing. I suggest to have 1 on 1 conversations in which you ask them to tell or describe to you their industry and which challenges they are facing at the moment. If you do this, you will find a well-defined problem in an industry you like at the end of the 2-week experiment
I guaranty that you do not need to be an expert to be an entrepreneur, you need to be willing to explore, connect and find your why.David Mendieta
Now for those of you thinking “ok good point, but I still think that I better gain professional experience first”.
Well, this is also wrong. I am not saying that experience is not fundamental for success, but I would like to convince you that corporate experience contributes little or nothing to making you a good entrepreneur (even if it gives you an understanding of an industry).
To become a successful entrepreneur you are going to have to learn by doing, and yes the first time you will probably fail. 10 years of experience at a corporate are not going to change that so much. The reason for that is that to be at the edge you need to get engaged in the ecosystem of experimentation that an entrepreneur is constantly facing.
If what I am telling you seems to make sense, by this point you probably see how irrational the first 2 points that I presented at the beginning of the article are. If you work for 10 years and then you become an entrepreneur you are probably going to have to face a couple of failures or make some mistakes before you are successful. Your experience of 10 years might give you an advantage in 1 specific skill but not as an entrepreneur. So unless you are thinking of becoming a consultant, you are basically starting again at ground zero as an entrepreneur. My advice is the following: if you are serious about this just be honest with yourself.
To become a successful entrepreneur you have to gain expirience as an entrepreneur and to be an innovator you have to be enaged, involved and have contact with your customer in order to create your ideas.David Mendieta