Entrepreneurship is first and foremost a “state of mind”. It is less of something that can be taught than it is a core personality trait buried deep inside one’s soul, a drive, a hunger to succeed, a never ending feeling of dissatisfaction, sensing the necessity to do things differently and make things better. I think entrepreneurship is part of a person’s DNA, providing them with the capability to execute on a vision, like writing an award-winning book, starting from a blank page. The startup tech entrepreneur has the ability to “pick-up” on industry needs, on market trends, identify user pains points and find ways to deliver on those needs by building great products and great businesses.
Are you an entrepreneur? Want to build a successful business from scratch? Than this is for you.
All-in! An entrepreneur must first believe that he is addressing an untapped opportunity and that he has the willingness, drive and passion to go “all-in”. If you aren’t ready to jump, then don’t jump, get a job!
Connectedness! Be connected and stay connected. One of the most important qualities of an entrepreneur is to surround himself with amazing people. Always aim for the best, when seeking co-founders, employees, board members, partners, clients and even investors. It takes time to build real relationships. And every successful entrepreneur I know, have built amazing networks they then converted into relationships, which thereafter often becomes one of the enabling factors of their successes.
Get funded! Attract the right type of financing at the right time. As little as possible early on, in order to validate the product, business model and market demand. It is as critical to choose the right source of capital, as it is to choose the right amount needed at the right stage. Be aware that Venture Capital is made for a certain category of technology companies, tailored for certain stages of growth and is likely the most expensive capital an entrepreneur can attract. Take time to get to know your investors, their interest, their focus, their timelines and investment objectives before accepting any capital.
Build a great product! If you build something that is amazing (think RIM, Taleo, Softimage, Woozworld, iStockPhoto, Fixmo, …) people will adopt it. Think user interface, community virality, focus on customer pains and keep the number of features at a minimum. If you build something that is just “good to have” then your customers will have too many reasons not to select your product. Think “must have” clearly addressable needs and your customer base will thrive.
Don’t wait! Fast iteration provides the best possible results. It’s like continuous improvement, not just of your product but also of your team, your marketing plan and your business development efforts. Once you’ve decided to go a certain way, then go really fast. If something get’s in your way … turn.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." Mario Andretti, world champion racing driver.
The efforts and steps required to take an idea and develop it into a successful business often seem endless and painful. But the satisfaction for an entrepreneur to have built a successful business is so unique, so intense, that many can’t resist but go back to square one to do it all over again, and again.
Choice! Many forget that the common denominator to any entrepreneurial endeavor is the ability for any and every entrepreneur to choose. Even though some of the younger entrepreneurs may sometimes feel under-privileged, less-connected or not-as-commercially savvy as others, the bottom line is that all entrepreneurs have the ability to choose with who they want to build their businesses with and have an equal advantage of choosing the right co-founders, employees, partners, clients as well as investors. Understanding that your “choices” and “decisions” as an entrepreneur are what will make you succeed is priceless.
Entrepreneurs across Canada have access to all the resources needed to succeed in building competitive global companies. The Canadian economy is vibrant, has one of the best-educated workforce in the world, a deep research infrastructure across the country, an active venture capital and private equity community and our governments are providing support by acting as catalysts in the commercialization of innovation.
So what are you waiting for? Go out and show the world what you can do!
The author, Chris Arsenault, has been an entrepreneur in the technology industry since the early 1990’s and is, since early 2000, an active Canadian Venture Capital investor. Chris Managing Partner at venture Capital firm iNovia Capital, a board member of the Silicon Valley base C100 organization, co-chair of the Canadian Innovation Exchange, and a CVCA Board Member and the chair of the CVCA Editorial Committee.