We had a guest lecturer today in our Entrepreneurial Thinking class – Mike O’Donnell, an entrepreneur who’s started and run numerous businesses. You can get his full profile at that link, but some highlights include: founding Ask Me Multimedia Systems (founded in ’85 and sold to Midisoft in ’95); launching SPRYNET at CompuServe; founding StartUPbiz.com in 1997 to assist aspiring entrepreneurs; founding iCopyright in 1998, which was created to prevent online pirating of intellectual property.
Here are a few of the main themes I took from class- these only represent my interpretation of his comments as well as responses to his thoughts from students:
- Parallel Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurs aren’t “serial entrepreneurs,” they’re parallel. They don’t wait for one idea/vision/business to end before planning and/or executing on the next. That’s how their minds works. And the overlap of those ideas can be powerful and exponentially valuable.
- Money: Money isn’t an excuse to not start a business; money is never the problem. Money will find good ideas and good ideas will find money. The problem is normally You.
- Marketing: Marketing is different from sales, because marketing only creates an environment in which sales can take place. You don’t need marketing when you start a business, you need sales. So go make a sale. If you can’t, find a partner who can. No sales, no business.
- Scalability: The difference between business owner and true entrepreneurs is scalability; true entrepreneur look for something that has no limit in scalability. Scalability means the business makes money for you while you’re sleeping.
- Start: Start it now, don’t wait. Don’t worry too much about the exit strategy or the monetization; those things change in the making. But they won’t change, and you won’t react, and you won’t find a way if you don’t start it. So go start it.
I welcome any thoughts or feedback from other students in the class. Let me know if I’ve missed or misunderstood anything. All in all, I thought it was a very interesting session. I don’t agree with all I heard, but recognize the enormous amount of experience that shaped Mike’s view, and I’m really glad I got the chance to participate in the conversation.