Q&A: How to Be An Entrepreneur

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Question: How to be an entrepreneur?

My Answer:

First, if you have the option and haven’t already, get a good education.

Focus on whatever interests you, not necessarily business. Entrepreneurs without formal education are at a huge disadvantage. But there’s no clear difference between a good degree in business and a good degree in any other subject. Study what’s right for you, what you like. But get the degree. It shows you can stick with something, get things done, and meet deadlines, over a multi-year period. And it teachers you how to get and digest information, analyze, and communicate.

Statistics are clear: although education isn’t technically required for entrepreneurship, and many succeed without it, not having an education is a significant disadvantage.

Second, find out what it really means.

Don’t just settle for the myths and folklore and clichés of entrepreneurship. Broaden your view. If you can find local meetups for startups, workshops, online education, be skeptical to weed out all the sharks and charlatans, and dive into the startup ecosystem. Choose carefully with web information and blogs, emphasize the experience of people who have actually done it, instead of the people who just read about and then write about it parroting the clichés.

Third, get experience.

Get out of school and get a job. Work in an area related to what you really like to do, and keep your eyes and ears open and learn what real business is, and how it’s done. Do not — repeat do not — just sit back and wait for something entrepreneurial to happen. Do real work every day.

Finally, watch and wait.

Watch for an opportunity to do something good, something you like, something you believe in, something you can do that people will like, use, and buy. Look for something that the world needs, or, in a more humble and realistic context, that some serious number of potential customers need. Make it reflect a real need and your real nature, strengths and weaknesses. Get involved in something that you can’t stand not getting involved in.

Bonus point: the nature vs. nurture discussion on entrepreneurs is overdone. It’s not about behaviors, instincts, education … did you do it, or not? That simple.

 



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