Are you thinking of becoming an entrepreneur? Great! Have you been thinking of becoming an entrepreneur for a long time? Even better! I hope that I can help you clarify if entrepreneurship and innovation are for you and, if so, how to start. There are several reasons stopping people from becoming entrepreneurs as well as several causes why entrepreneurs/startups and innovations fail. I will explore these in later posts.
For now, I have decided to start by sharing the point of view of a good friend of mine and entrepreneur.
Nuno Coelho Martins is Portuguese (just like yours truly) and has vast experience and network within European and GCC countries. Nuno is shifting towards the investment world, but, at heart, he is a true serial entrepreneur. Focused on the sustainable growth of ideas solving big problems. His footprint ranges from Europe to the MENA region.
Nuno’s track record includes:
- Technology Pioneers Community Relations Manager for the World Economic Forum
- VP Corporate Development for Pioneers
- Advisory Board Member for Central European Startup Awards
- Investment Head – Europe for Fullerton Venture Partners
This is his perspective on what it takes to be an entrepreneur. No bulls⚡️⚡️⚡️!
—— Enter Nuno ——
Dreaming takes us into a realm of fluffiness where everything seems to be possible. It feeds our courage in order for us to push that extra mile and survive through those tough reality checks. This being said, keeping our feet on the ground allows us to turn a dream into reality and reduce the risk of building it.
Deciding whether to launch a business venture must be both an introspection exercise and one of network trust analysis. Ask people what they think about it but, most importantly, understand if you have what it takes. Are you ready for the sacrifices? Are people around you ready for those sacrifices?
A look into the future
Risks are ever so present these days because there are so many people “crossing the road without looking both ways.” With such a faulty guiding light many fail and we have been presented with some spectacular “accidents”. Companies that charge ahead full speed against very thick brick walls. It happened to me as well. I got hit and died before I knew it. But don’t let this anecdote sidetrack you. Nowadays it’s as equally as risky to work for a big corporation, except that with a startup you have the added factor that you end up learning so much in contrast to doing a repetitive task as part of a thousand people’s organisation.
- Big corporations have been decreasing their payroll.
- Robotics & AI are taking over jobs as humans become obsolete. It is just the beginning.
- At a big corporation, it now takes 5 to 10 years to become top management and there is still the risk that your job will become redundant.
- The vast majority of people in the world work at SME’s. SMEs make the world go round.
- Specialising in new ventures will keep your skills up to date for the next project if the present one is not successful.
- People that meet you as an entrepreneur will remember your attributes. Don’t party hard. Play hard! If you fail but you gave it your all people will remember you and new projects will present themselves.
- Failing with a startup is not a joyful feeling but it teaches you more than most universities. Investors know that so be sure to learn from your mistakes…relentlessly.
So, how should we face risk in entrepreneurship? Should you cross the road?
Clearly, not all dreams are good and not all realities are bad. We tend to live our dreams hoping reality to follow suit. The tricky word here being; “hoping”. If you are in the business world, words such as “hope”, “assume“ or “think” have no value whatsoever, especially if and when confronted with others such as “hypothesise”, “test” & “check”. The change from the former to the latter is the first step towards risk reduction. It is all about changing a “chip”, changing our perspective in dealing with reality.
Don’t play darts blindfolded
Whatever you were taught in school doesn’t have to be right just because it was in a book. Test it and be sure it works for your idea; your product. Again, if you do not double-check and test every assumption you make, it will be that much harder to get it right. It will be like playing darts blindfolded. Plan, do, check & act. Write your own rulebook.
Testing and proving a hypothesis is the only way for you to know that the product fits a determined market (and even, proving that the market exists). When you cross a road, you look left and right before heading out onto the street. Why do so many entrepreneurs cross the road without looking both ways?
Let risk be the last excuse for you not to launch an idea, to work on a dream. Someone once said that work is when the body does something the mind doesn’t feel like doing. Launch your dream and have fun with it. Risk will always be present; don’t shy away from it. Change the life of the ones around you…change life as it is!
—— Exit Nuno ——
I believe what Nuno is trying to transmit is extremely important! Being an entrepreneur is about a change in mindset. And please, don’t think it’s about making money. It’s about finding the balance between dreaming and keeping your feet on the ground.
A change in mindset is needed to mitigate the risk inherent to your dreams. Don’t hope, Hypothesise. Don’t assume, Test. Don’t think, Check. Focus on learning by checking the real world, by getting out of the building. Accept that everything you know and read in books might be wrong.
I repeat. Being an entrepreneur is about finding a repeatable and scalable model. Embrace a learning mindset. Do that right and you will be able to build a profitable company later.
My tip for you?!
- Create your own rulebook