This course covers virtually every aspect of entrepreneurship, from coming up with the idea, to raising money, hiring people and running the business. But more important, it will help you decide if entrepreneurship is right for you, and help you avoid the myths and pitfalls that often plague founders.
Dan Appleman is a well known author, software developer, and speaker. Currently the CTO of Full Circle Insights, he is the author of numerous books, ebooks, and online courses on various topics (technology and other). His latest book is "Advanced Apex Programming" - advancedapex.com Personal Website http://danappleman.com.
Do You Have What it Takes? There's an interesting observation that you'll hear from most venture capitalists and professional investors. They'll tell you that they invest in the people, not in the idea or the business. In fact, there's at least one incubator that accepts participants, even if they have no idea what they want to work on. They figure that the right person will come up with something good and make it work. They are absolutely right. This module is titled Do You Have What it Takes, that's the question an investor asks, but it's not the question you should be asking. The question you should ask is can you have what it takes, and will you put in the effort to gain the necessary skills and knowledge? Entrepreneurship is about character, attitude, and skills. It's not genetic, it's a choice, and it's not for everyone. There are some things in life that when you do them for the first time, you think it's so great that you can't see why everyone doesn't do it. Entrepreneurship isn't like that. Once you become one, you understand full well why most people won't and should not. In this module, you'll learn about the characteristics that you'll need to develop to succeed as an entrepreneur, and how to adapt to the challenges you'll face.
The Idea Behind every startup is a great idea, or maybe not. You'd be amazed how many times I've run into someone who explains that they would've probably become an entrepreneur except that they never had that one great idea. After all, everybody knows that successful entrepreneurs start with a great idea. The idea is the foundation for the company, it's the single most valuable asset, everybody knows this, and it's completely wrong. Here's the truth. Ideas are cheap, ideas are easy, execution is everything. Want proof? Consider that a great many companies end up changing direction during their startup phase, going to market with something completely different from their original idea. Microsoft was founded to sell basic interpreters. Twitter evolved out of an internal messaging tool at a podcasting company. In this module, we're going to look at ideas, because they are important. They're closely tied to having a vision for your business, which is also important, but they are just one of the many factors that will determine your success and maybe not even the most important one. Having a good idea does not make you an entrepreneur, you only become an entrepreneur when you build a business around that idea, and if you throw out that idea and pick a new one, you're still just as much an entrepreneur.
Execution When I first outlined this course, I was sure this module would be the longest and most complex. After all, this is where I talk about the practical aspects of starting and running a company. But as I worked on the course, I found that more and more of the points that I thought would go into this module were already covered, coming up with an idea, building the team, managing finances. Those aren't abstractions or sidelines; they are an integral part of the execution. No, they are the heart of execution. So what's left? Certainly no one module can teach you everything you need to know about starting and running a company. Even if I had the time, the actual running of a company depends too much on the type of business and on your own vision and values for any author to come up with a single, one-size-fits-all formula. And that's perhaps the entire point. Starting and running a company is about knowing your vision and values and figuring out how to implement them while building an organization. Besides, you'll be doing what every other founder does when you need to figure out how to do something, searching the web, asking advisers, and occasionally reading a book. Think of this module as an introduction to some of the other issues you'll need to deal with, an outline of the things that you will need to learn and research as you go along.
On Being an Entrepreneur Module 3 of this course asks the question do you have what it takes? There you learned that entrepreneurship is not a talent, and it's not genetic. It's not a skillset, though entrepreneurs do need a wide variety of skills. Entrepreneurship is a choice. In a very real sense, becoming an entrepreneur is something that happens to you after you make that choice. In this closing module, I hope to leave you with a sense of what that means, and what it's really like to be an entrepreneur, and some of the experiences you might face, and how you might handle them. Being an entrepreneur is hard. Seriously, it's hard. And not just hard work, though it's that as well. Most entrepreneurs consider a 40-hour work week to be like a vacation. It's hard emotionally as well. In some ways, you have a lot in common with a top athlete or an actor in a play. Everyone is watching you, and if you mess up, it will be very public. The product or service you create will be judged by your customers and critics, and their judgment will reflect on your company and on you. There is constant stress, the financial stress, the pressure to learn new skills, the stress of making critical decisions, and the stress of building and managing a team. Being an entrepreneur is fun. As hard as it is, it's also fun. You get to be the one making the decisions. You get to control your own schedule. You may be working very hard, but you can often decide what you want to work on and when. You have the opportunity to learn things that most people never have a chance to learn. There are new experiences, from presenting at conferences or sitting on panels to be interviewed by the press or TV about your company. You get to meet other entrepreneurs. You get to go on interesting business trips. You will have an impact.