Use your passion and have a purpose:
There are two types of motivation intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is doing something for your inherent satisfaction while extrinsic is to obtain a separable outcome from your actions (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Both are crucial when you want to achieve a goal and one of those goals for me is starting my own business. But is not only about been motivated is about the orientation of that motivation and that’s when you need to have a defined purpose. In my case I had a clear purpose so I quit my job and came here to do my master in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship and its been a great experience because I have that motivation that moves me to do something.
Even though that first step of really understanding what you want to do is hard, understanding your future customer that’s the big challenge. If you are at this stage I recommend you using the empathy map, a tool that helps you understand your customer’s needs while you get a deeper understanding of that “persona” you are designing for (Dam & Theo, 2017). We start our module with a workshop that shows us the importance of talking to people. Realize the benefits of having a conversation that will lead you to understand your customers (pain, gains, feel, think, hear, do) and this is how we end knowing Patrick. Patrick is a nice guy from Nepal who share with us what is home for him and what he miss from back home. This experience lets us come with different ideas to solve his problem and make him feel like home.
Few week after the introduction workshop I had one of the best lectures where we had a practical exercise where we were assigned a “simple task” go to the toilet in groups of 3 and “do your business”. But the tricky part was that every member of a group has its own roll. There has to be one robot, one blind person, and one deaf-mute. This makes me realize the importance of freedom and also of creativity. Using Teresa Amabile framework creativity arises when you these 3 components, knowledge, creative thinking and motivation get together. I already talked about motivation that for me is the most important component and now I will talk about the creative thinking component because everyone knows what’s knowledge. The best definition I read for “creative thinking is the ability to persevere trough difficult problems, having comfort disagreeing with others and try solutions that depart from the status Quo.” (Adams, 2005). So creativity is using that motivation like a force to move forward and overcome difficulties and using that knowledge and creative thinking to take decisions that will generate value to your product, service or idea.
Pivot or persevere that’s the real question:
During the last 5 months, we had to take many decisions throughout our process but without a doubt the most common and maybe the most important was should we keep going this direction of should we pivot. I have to say after this cycle of decisions I fully understand the implications of design thinking. Using Tim Brown definition design thinking it is “a discipline that uses the designer’s sensibility and methods to match people’s needs with what is technologically feasible and what a viable business strategy can convert into customer value and market opportunity” (Brown, 2013). So the next question is how does this work. For that, the next graphic that shows the 3 main iterations: Inspiration, ideation, and implementation. As you can see there isn’t a linear relation between them but is more like a multilinear relation where for every step there are different possibilities converting in in a cycle that will go on and on.
One of the main principles of the Lean Startup methodology is the validating learning. The validating learning is not another thing that running experiments that allow us to test different hypothesis (The Lean Startup, 2017). So following that methodology we did different experiments, some of them in the prototyping process other in terms of the concept. It was the outcome of this experiments that support our decisions of pivot or make some changes in the concept/product and keep going.
It seems pretty straight forward and it is, the problem is when you put your emotions into play. Killing that “perfect idea” that finally every team member is happy with it is damn hard, and that happened to us. After pivoting our first idea based on high production cost (nothing to do there) we moved forward and find our second idea. This time everything was looking good we got a good prototype for our first Dragons Den having confidence about getting a reasonable MVP that we can place in the market. We make a high investment in silicon to make some more prototypes and our first production slot. Time pass and even though I tried to convince the group to pivot we keep trying to achieve that final product because most of us really like silicon and we have good feedback about the material from our early adopters. It was until our first fair where we came with an unfinished product that like a team realized that we need to change our material. In effect, we decide to change the material and in few days we got a great product and we even have time to make what I consider the best packaging of all.
Go one step forward and look for those opportunities
As many types of research have proven entrepreneurship is something that can be taught. What you cant teach someone is to be passionate about entrepreneurship (Daley, 2017). I totally agree with this definition and as an entrepreneur, if you don’t have that passion you won’t be successful, simply because there will be someone else willing to give more than you. This master have taught me a lot about entrepreneurship and innovation but also this year in London has shown me that is all about that passion.
As I talked in some of my blogs one of the biggest surprises I got by moving here was how many opportunities available are. Don’t get me wrong is a really competitive environment everyone is fighting for one, the good news is that there are plenty of them. All the free conferences, fairs, events are a great example of opportunities in this city. You can have a personal coaching session with a CEO of a company with plenty of experience in one area or go to campus London and meet others entrepreneurs. The opportunities are there so is on us to go a step forward and look for those opportunities.
In this process of looking for opportunities, I think as an entrepreneur is important to stop planning and start doing. To make this planning process easiest the lean canvas model is a great tool. The lean canvas is a worksheet that allows you to map your business plan in a fast, concise and portable way (Maurya, 2010). What I like about the lean canvas is that is a simple tool that gives a great understanding of a business. It takes out all the writing, finance, and other speculations and its center in the key aspects of the business, who are your customers, what’s your value proposition, how are you going to reach your customers and how are you going to make money. If you have all those aspects well define and clear with strong evidence to support then you have all you need to start and move forward to the next step. I have been using this methodology since I learn about it and I am very happy with the results.
Bet on the jockey not on the horse
Some people say is all about the idea but at the end, all relies on the process. Before I came here I have to say I was one of those persons thinking the idea is the most important part of the success of your business. It didn’t took me that long to realized that I was wrong. During my first month of class, I read an article about what venture capitalist evaluate to invest money in a startup. An according to an interview with 4 high executives of venture capitalist firms in silicon valley there are to principal things they look in a business opportunity, the team, and the market. They look for a team motivated on what they do, with the knowledge required to manage the company and make it growth (Roberts & Barley, 2004). One week after reading that article in a conference at Campus London the speaker said this phrase that resumes its all “ Bet on the jockey, not on the horse”.
I think we have a very strong team, with a good mixture of creative and business people. I want to thanks each of them for the time and effort put on it. Each of the 4 members has some specific knowledge and strengths that help us during the entire process. All that plus the passion and commitment help us to overcome all the difficult situations. Knowing what the investors are looking when they have to invest their money, and what the market is demanding. I think we have to start investing in ourselves. We have to invest time in our knowledge, create a good network, find an idea that really motivates us so we have the strength to face all the challenges creating a new business demand. So the goal is to try to be a great jockey (manager) so no matter what horse (idea or business) you have to ride you can make it successful. I am happy to say I learn a lot of things during this year and I am not the same person that came the first day to this master. I am a much better jockey with more knowledge and with a clear purpose for the future I want to create my own business and I am working on that fully motivated and ready to face all the challenges to come.
Adams, K. (2005). The sources of innovation and creativity. National center of education and the economy.
Brown, T. (2013). Design Thinking. Harvard Business review.
Daley, J. (2017, March 08). Are Entrepreneurs Born or Made? Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/228273
Dam, R., & Theo, S. (2017, March 8). Empathy Map – Why and How to Use It. Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/empathy-map-why-and-how-to-use-it
Maurya, A. (2010). Running Lean.
Roberts, M., & Barley, L. (2004). How venture capitalist evaluates potential ventures opportunities. Harvard Business School.
Ryan, R., & Deci, E. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations: Classic Definitions and New Directions. University of Rochester.
The Lean Startup. (2017, March 08). The Lean Startup. Retrieved from http://theleanstartup.com/principles