For several decades now I’ve been back and forth between working on and building my own business, helping others build theirs, helping people manage small business, and, occasionally, helping larger businesses understand and presumably sell to smaller businesses.
Notice the huge increase in the number of institutions offering courses on entrepreneurship. The question it asks—can schools teach entrepreneurship—isn’t one to be answered with statistics and rankings. Of course that takes a qualitative answer, sifting through what elements business schools can teach and what elements business schools don’t teach.
Back in 1993, Palo Alto Software had been mostly consulting with a stubborn insistence on software products that were not paying for themselves (yet). I was troubled with the risk and fixed cost of hiring people to help with my then-fledgling software company.
Real business strategy is mostly just focus. It’s about what you don’t do, sort of like how a marble sculpture is formed by what’s removed from the original block. Focus on what you and your business do best, what you do better and different, and then focus on a specific set of potential customers and focus again on building exactly what they want or need.
I don’t want to be a strategist. Yeah, like you, I like to be a thinker. I like analysis. And strategy sounds cool. But the term strategist is too much pomp, arrogance, a relative of using utilize instead of use, or at that point of time instead of then.
I see this confusion a lot: People use the terms “venture capital,” “venture capitalist,” and “VC” to apply to any outsider investing in a startup. However, it’s really useful to draw some distinctions in this area, between three important classifications: venture capital, angel investors, and anybody else.
An old African proverb says the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. That same logic applies: the best time to start your online presence is 10 years ago. The second best is today.
So you want a mentor to help you start or grow your business? Find a question an expert can answer quickly without having a lot of specific knowledge about your case in detail. Make it a question that’s interesting or even fun to answer.
What would you think of a restaurant that offered really good food, but the salad is free and the dressing is extra? The potatoes are free but the sour cream is extra. The soup is free but heating it costs extra. And table service is free if you wait two hours, but table service in 20 minutes costs extra.
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