My Personal Insights about start-ups and entrepreneurship
There are cliches and entreprenurial myths about successful start-ups. In books and articles related with start-ups, authors generally select one topic among the popular and widely discussed items (i.e. business plan, venture capital, vision, formulating the right strategy and etc) and list “how to do’s” in the chosen topic such as:
- How to write an excellent Business Plan?
- How to choose the right strategy?
- How to attract venture capitalists?
I assert that although it is useful to provide insight about these important topics, none of them should be overemphasized. Suggestions are good but the success is mostly personal and no one knows the “one best way”. Thus no one has the right to show you the correct path. Nobody can do that. Only you can find the correct route. That route is correct for you, not for anybody else.
Before I graduated from university, I made my mind to establish my own company. But I have questions and hesitations in my mind. I do not have any work experience. I do not have any business connections. I do not have a single business idea (though I have a vision and belief in mobile Internet). I do not have any potential customers.
I talked to entrepreneurs and listened their advices. One of them said that “first, work in a company and be proficient technically and understand the business. Have good relations with people in the business. Then after you have gained experience you can establish your company“. I asked “how many years do I need?” He said “ten“. I agreed to his ideas and decided to work in a software company.
After two months of work as an employee, I made my mind to establish my own business. I resigned and became a co-founder of Done Information and Communication Systems in 1999 to provide applications and services in mobile Internet. At the time we founded the company, we had no single idea but a belief that the mobile Internet business will proliferate. Yes, we wrote a business plan, we had many sales and business meetings, we had market research, we had a vision, we had a strategy. But none of them should be overemphasized. And in contrast to the advices I listened from entrepreneurs, my path to success was totally different.
My personal experience of success goes through the following path:
- Dream of the future
- Optimism instead of Pessimism (Positive thinking is essential but be realistic as well)
- Principles (walk your talk, having an integrity)
- Trust and Confidence (in what you do, to your colleagues and customers)
- Discipline and hard work (I remember to work 12-15 hours a day, and 7 days a week for six consecutive months)
- Good relations with your colleagues, customers and even with your competitors
- Create and sustain customer satisfaction (close to customers)
- A balance between long-run and short-run trade-offs
- Working with highly talented colleagues (working with the right people)
- Desire for success
- Be proactive
- Fast beats the Slow approach (instead of big eats the small)
- A bias for action (thanks to Richard Pascale, Anthony Athos, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman for “In Search For Excellence“)
I am also truely inline with the ideas of Peter Drucker, Jim Collins and Matsushita who outline the most important factors and dynamics of business management. I try to stick to their following ideas:
- Drucker best describes the most important dynamics of business. He highlighted two factors for every business: “Marketing and Innovation“. He was one of the best consultants in the world. Businessweek’s headline best describes him as “The Man Who Invented Management“.
- Matsushita has an holistic approach. He says that nothing is more important than the “management philosophy” (or “management perspective“). He suggests that profit and growth is not the only objectives of business. Business management should rely on the right philosophy and the source of this philosophy should rely on the right society, world and life perspective. He is one of the best practitioner in the business world.
- Jim Collins assert that “Great companies have disciplined people who engage in disciplined thought and who take disciplined action“. He is one of the best author who defined the factors for becoming a great company. I greatly admire his book Good to Great Companies.