Are you a Disciplined Entrepreneur?

Picture1_croppedAs some of my loyal blog readers know, I’ve recently started a new position as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.

I’m thrilled to have joined this incredible program at MIT, and have met some wonderful people, including the Center’s Managing Director Bill Aulet. Bill is also the author of a book called “Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup.” I’ve enjoyed reading it and thought I would share some of the highlights.

In my mind, “disciplined” and “entrepreneur” – are two words that are seemingly in juxtaposition. Most of us think of entrepreneurs as brilliant people with lots of ideas flying around in their heads and innate entrepreneurial talent. We think that they get lucky – or, are at the right place at the right time – when they actually launch a business based on one of these ideas.

In his book, Bill asserts that entrepreneurship can be taught, and that intelligent, hardworking people can become successful entrepreneurs by following a systematic, disciplined approach to starting a new company.

The book is structured around six themes, and the 24 steps mentioned in the title each fall into one of these themes:

  • Who is your customer?
  • What can you do for your customer?
  • How does your customer acquire your product?
  • How do you make money off your product?
  • How do you design and build your product?
  • How do you scale your business?

Bill points out that while following the sequential steps, entrepreneurs will undoubtedly learn new information that will take you back to revise what you’ve done in previous steps. The graphic showing the steps is a wonderful curvy path with “go back” arrows reminiscent of the game Candy Land. This shows me that that wacky, yet brilliant entrepreneur is in there somewhere! Yet, I love that the steps give structure to the process of launching your own business.

I also really embrace the idea Bill sets forth in his book that “ideas mean nothing without execution.” If there was one nugget of advice that I would share with entrepreneurs, this would be it.

As an entrepreneur myself, I value the examples in every chapter, drawn from projects that Bill has worked on with MIT students. Bill uses these real-life examples to guides those with ideas, new technologies, or passion into channeling that energy into a viable business.

At MIT, I am currently taking 14 student-founder teams through the disciplined entrepreneur process in a program called Global Founders Skills Accelerator (GFSA) … I will let you know how it goes!