Sunday, February 15, 2009

Reflections on Entrepreneurship from Stanford GSB

Going through an old notebook of mine, I found a page of things I had learned about startups and entrepreneurship from my time in the MBA program at Stanford GSB. I wrote it on 6/12/07, about a week before i graduated. I culled these from things I learned from various classes, lectures, meetings, books, and during the early days of starting Personforce.
  • Entrepreneurship is about building something with little to zero resources
  • Do rather than analyze. Err on the side of speed than precision
  • Building a company is an iterative process. Test and learn.
  • There is a mental inflection point when the startup moves from idea to actual business
  • The micro-details of the product, the sales pitch, the contract matter.
  • There is a way to solve any problem. There is a way to sell anything. It might just be harder than you are prepared to work.
  • Differentiated businesses require lots of hard work
  • Do the dogs want to eat the dog food?
  • Your sheer force of will is a competitive advantage
  • Work with people who have different skills but similar values to you
  • You have to give equity away to make the pie larger
  • You have to strike and scale while the iron is hot
  • Successful entrepreneurs are just normal people
  • You need to commit to something to succeed. Good things start happening and it provides focus. "Throw your cap over the fence"
  • Little is gained by secrecy, good things happen when talking to smart people
  • Act weak when you are strong. Act still when you are about to move.
  • Little companies can crush competitors
  • Achieving public success has an irrevocable price
  • Don't add costs to the business
  • To succeed, you need to be contrarian and right
  • Selling into existing markets can be easier to sell to. Creating new markets can be powerful.
  • Great businesses create an impact far in excess of the capital invested in them.
  • Every early decision has strategic and ethical implications
  • Before every fork in the road, ask your self exactly what it is that you are trying to accomplish
Perhaps at a later date I'll write about which of these points I found to be true, especially true, or not sure true in starting a business.

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