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Disciplined Entrepreneurship

Getting Started

Three ways to start a new venture

Bill AuletBill Aulet

When I listen to my students, I hear a diverse range of reasons as to why they are interested in entrepreneurship. Some students have worked in one industry for years and want a change. Some want to push their skills to the maximum and have the biggest impact on the world. Some want to be their own boss. Some hold patents and are interested in the different ways they can commercialize them. Some have an idea about how their own life could be improved, and they wonder if that idea is interesting to others.

All of these reasons can be synthesized into three distinct categories (see Table 0.1):

1. Have an idea: You have thought of something new that can change the world—or some small part of it—in a positive way, or something that can improve an existing process you’re familiar with and you want to implement it.

2. Have a technology: You have come up with a technological breakthrough and want to capitalize on it, or simply expedite its deployment to have a positive effect on society. Or, you have learned about a technological breakthrough and you see great potential for a business.

3. Have a passion: You are confident and you are comfortable pushing yourself to develop your skills in the most comprehensive way possible. You also might believe that being an entrepreneur is the way to have the biggest impact on the world. You simply might know that you want to work for yourself and control your own destiny, but you don’t have an idea or technology yet, so you’d like to learn about entrepreneurship while looking for a good idea, technology, and/or partner. (Read on to learn how to find a good idea or technology based on your passion.)

I am frequently told that an entrepreneur cannot start without knowing a “customer pain”—a problem that bothers someone enough that they would be willing to pay to alleviate the problem. But that approach can be discouraging to someone who is unfamiliar with entrepreneurship. Furthermore, it discounts the importance of starting a company in line with the entrepreneur’s values, interests, and expertise. In time, they will find a customer with a pain, or opportunity, where the customer is willing to pay for a solution.

No matter how you have become interested in entrepreneurship, you need to start by first answering the following question: What can I do well that I would love to do for an extended period of time?

Once you have answered this question, you will have taken the first step toward discovering a customer pain—a pain that you are interested in alleviating because it is in line with what you are interested in and have expertise in.

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