Over the last month I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to both guest lecture in University entrepreneurship courses and keynote and Entrepreneurship Conference at Queens College. I’m also fortunate in that The MouseDriver Chronicles continues to serve as an inspiring story for students (and others) around the world who dream of someday becoming entrepreneurs. You know your book has staying power when hundreds of Universities are using the book and numerous professors have structured their entire syllabus around chapters of the book. Seriously. I’ve counted three so far. Now that’s cool. And a little bit scary.
And over the last month, I’ve found myself frequently passing along the same advice to students that I did back in 1999 when Kyle and I first took MouseDriver from a classroom at Wharton to the shelves of WalMart. Granted, advice is just advice and every situation, every idea, every individual is completely different. But I stand behind the points below, which I view as absolutely timeless if you’re starting a company while in school.
1. Take advantage of school resources: Never in your life will you have access to so many different resources that can help you validate your idea. Whether its research databases, experienced professors, wicked smart classmates, or simply the time and opportunity to work on different facets of your idea, these resources are an incredible asset and you should use to validate, refine and test your ideas. Think of the classroom as one giant research lab in which you can test different hypothesis and theories.
2. Find an Adviser: I’m always amazed at how often this advice is given, but yet is rarely adhered to. We didn’t find an adviser when we brought MouseDriver to market and we paid dearly. Understand that most experienced entrepreneurs and business folk WANT to give away their insights, perspective and advice. And they’ll usually do this out of the goodness of their heart because they find energy in motivating and inspiring others to take the entrepreneurial plunge. And don’t worry about finding somebody who’s been ‘successful’….just find somebody who has great experience and who is willing to share those experiences.
3. Be Patient: The chances of somebody starting a company and generating revenue the next day are slim to none. Yeah, it can happen, but like Google and Facebook, it’s just not normal to go from start-up to world domination in a short period of time. Realize that starting a company will take lots of work, lots of sweat and usually, a decent amount of time. And don’t worry if things aren’t going as fast as you’d like. Stay focused, keep executing and deliver on your goals.
4. Drop the ego and listen: This advice is coming from pure experience. Don’t assume that you know everything and don’t think that just because it’s your idea, nobody else can provide good insights or advice. The more your capable of listening…really listening…the better your chance at succeeding with your idea/company. Entrepreneurial egos are meant to be crushed…it’s just a matter of how you respond.
5. Live the experience: Realize that starting a company is like nothing you’ll ever experience. You’ll learn more about yourself not only from a business perspective but also from a personal experience if you choose the entrepreneurial path. And experiences are the gateway to knowledge. They help to educate, to inform and to shape individual values. Enjoy the ride, learn to laugh at yourself and cherish the experience. You may never have another one like it!
A bunch of other thoughts, words of wisdom, lessons learned, etc are posted on the MouseDriver Chronicles website. Feel free to check it out if you’re so inclined. And take a look at the old newsletter as well. They’re classic.
Questions, Comments, Concerns? Please feel free to comment on this post.