I've been actively engaging in an entrepreneurial support/innovation group at the my university this year, providing those with ideas advice about which step to take next, and also been keeping some presentations/lectures with our team of people about the entrepreneurial way of life. Now I thought I'd share some of the stuff we keep lectures at uni to you guys, just in case there's someone who might have wondered what goes on in the lecture theaters that have entrepreneurial workshops, or overall finds the stuff useful. In this one I speak of the three different phases of the entrepreneurial journey, however this is the first part of our lecture/workshop series so it does not yet include the two latter phases, but only the first phase. I can do similar abbreviations/summaries of the following lectures within the next two or three weeks if there is any use of these. So, let us begin: The Entrepreneurial Mindset -Guy Kawasaki The entrepreneurial journey is in all its simplicity pretty much like this: Discover - Realize that there's a problem with something, and either there is no product available to solve this, or that the existing product has its own flaws. This leads to Creating Value Explore and Pursue - After realizing a problem or a flaw, you must think how to fix it. Explore the different options and pursue the most promising ones. Collect data from test users and do market research. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. You've created some value, but now you have to Capture the Value and turn it into something that you can take through to step three. Launch - Your hard work and dedication have paid off, but you still cannot lie down and enjoy the cash flowing in through the doors and the windows. This is the third phase, which will also be the one to take the longest amount of time. It is the phase when you Deliver Value to your customers. This is the phase when you try to grow and sustain your business through better and through worse. It also ends only when you decide to call it quits. But you wouldn't do that would you? How to Discover new ideas? Discovering new ideas is the hardest and the easiest of the phases wrapped into one. Some people never seem to get any ideas, where as some people churn them out like a factory production line. This is a problem many people face on their way to becoming an entrepreneur. Or do they really? Have you ever considered it might be just an excuse for yourself to think "I never get any good ideas" and satisfy yourself with the thought of it being a flaw in your genes, not your mindset, that you're not succeeding in the discovery process? And why does that sound familiar? But why yes, you have discovered a flaw! The first step is to fix that flaw. It might not be easy, but a good starting point is to learn to admit that there are thousands of flaws and problems out there, and learn how to spot them. You might just find that million dollar idea of yours. The discovery process Let's take a little look under the hood of the actual discovery process. What goes in to the process of coming up with the solution that is going to bring you a step closer to making your way into the world of entrepreneurship. Behind the idea Now, where there is demand, there is supply, right? The basic demand and supply theory (Literally, the basic idea of the theory, as we'll leave the price alone for now). The reason we are here, explaining to you the process of discovery, has very much to do with this. Think of an example: Two companies, Alpha and Omega, both produce condoms (surprise surprise). The supply meets the demand and the balance is at equilibrium. What we have to understand here, is that if the demand is for 500 condoms per day, both companies would produce and sell 250 condoms per day. But what if Alpha made a better product than Omega? A new supercharged condom called "The Preventor, king of all condoms". What would happen to the sales equilibrium? Yes, indeed, Alpha would start selling more each month, and Omega would start losing sales, yet the demand and supply equilibrium would not nudge. Only the amounts sold by the two companies would change. We will not go further into this, as that is something that is covered in Econ 101, but we come back to the discovery process. See what happened when Alpha developed a better product? That is where you aim with your ideas. Whether there is a new market for a product solving a problem that no one has introduced a solution to before, or you figure out a way to make an existing product better, that is the aim. To nudge the sales your way. Permanently. Or at lest until the next Albert Einstein comes along and invents something better than you. If you manage to discover a flaw that can be solved, you have a market opening, to which you must aim, because that is where your sales will start. No reason to go against Microsoft unless you have managed to make a better product than them. There is a reason Firefox and Chrome are the two most used browsers in the world, even though Microsoft tries to suffocate you by stuffing Internet Explorer down your throats. The DNA of an innovator Now you know what goes on behind a good idea, but what exactly do we need to discover one? Communication goes both ways, meaning for one that you must absorb your surroundings, giving us the factor Outside In, which consists of acknowledging and factoring into the equation: Market trends Changes in technology Friends and family Social trends Scientific progress Political trends Things that annoy you The bigger picture When including these things into your process of creative thinking, and learning to absorb information from and regarding all of those, and factoring them into the equation, you will start to see results. Excellent point from the man in the back row. I did indeed. Communication is a two way street. What you absorb from the outside is just as important as what you draw out of yourself to benefit the discovery process. This is where the Inside Out factor comes in: Problem solving Skills and expertise Good communication Collaboration Dealing with limited information Team Player When you learn to use the highway of information that is the DNA of innovators past and present, you can shape the future. What makes for a good idea? Helping you figure out the starting point for your scans are the three basic components of a good idea: Desirability - There are people willing to pay for the solution you provide to a problem, thus it has demand. To provide the extra nudge for your idea to leap forward look for something that the people don't know they need a solution for, but when you show your result, they realize that this is something they must have. If you solve the problem well, the customers are willing to pay premium. Keep that in mind when considering of rushing into things head on. Feasibility - Technically and operationally possible to Deliver Value Must be accessible to those customers who want it. Viability - Consider your financial capabilities, is the idea something you can afford to implement into reality? Keep in mind, if there is a surefire revenue stream to be had, an investment into the idea might be worth it, even though you couldn't technically afford it (meaning go look for possible loans, venture capital firms to invest in to your idea and other sources of funding). And there you have it.Everything that goes on behind ideas and the skill sets to provide you with the best results. Let's move on to the actual concrete process of discovery. Where does this lead then? By now you know what goes on behind the best and brightest of ideas, and with what skills you can jump on the highway of information to scan your environment for the next improvement to be made. But what happens then? The next concrete part of discovery is called Innovation. It all starts with a Hunch. Ever had that feeling when you just know something is right, even though nothing indicates it to be that way? That is a hunch. Now the hunch is the starting point. Your time spent learning how to get onto the highway of information has paid off, since you've just gotten your first hunch. But what to do with it? Hunches are just what they sound like, guesses and feelings. You cannot base your business on merely guesses and feelings, or you risk the chance of going bankrupt, or worse, failing to Deliver Value to your customers and in comes John, who has discovered a way to improve your design. You don't want to give John the opportunity to do it that easily, do you now? Hunches need to be strengthened. This can be done in many ways, but the best and most illustrative one is talking to an expert. In most of the cases the experts can help you to map out the landscape and increase the focus of your Inside Out skills. After you have the landscape mapped out for potential opportunities in your newly discovered hunches area, you can focus on scanning a certain area, instead of all your surroundings, which you will notice helps you to come up with more accurate observations than before. You really have to immerse yourself into the observing part, seeing how people combat the problem your hunch was about in their every day lives. However, do not interpret the facts while recording them, as this might lead to biased recordings of observations if you fall for a certain idea of yours before really observing the situation as a whole. This allows your mind to see the upsides of your brilliant new idea, but also makes your mind skip the downsides, so be careful and always observe first, and only after that follow with the interpretation of your observations. Few things to look for when observing: Things that have been adapted Things that surprise you Evidence of values Next up are Insights, your process of understanding the real pain and pressure points. Interpret your observations, really understand what you have observed and focus on finding the the key flaws in what you have observed. When you have your insights lined up, the hard work is done. You have come up with something you can improve that has the demand for your solution. These are called Opportunities. The prompts and stimuli for your ideas. You now have a focus point around which to craft your finalized ideas. Next you have to consider Customer Empathy, who are you designing the solution for? Based on your answer to that think of the value and impact it has on the customer. None? Sorry to hear that, and unfortunately it means your idea is sh*t. But don't worry, yours has plenty, am I right mate? The final stage of innovation is the Idea Generation itself. This is where you put together all your observations and insights, the opportunities you have come up with and they all have huge impact and value on the customers. It's time to come through with the idea. From start to finish, plan it all out. Make it count. Now what? Well, now you've got your idea. Go out there and pitch it! You have: A Problem A Solution to the said problem It has Benefit to the consumers The idea has Feasibility And of course, Viability More research will surely follow the pitching, whether successful or unsuccessful, but now you have the insights on your side. Someone is making a similar product already? Use the insights, find out if your idea is more valuable than theirs. And one last piece of advice. Never, ever, be afraid to take ownership of your ideas. Ever. You've earned the right to your ideas.