Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur

“Do you possess the “entrepreneur gene?” asks Sharon Nunes, writing for Businessweek. Nunes is vice-president of Smarter Cities Strategy & Solutions at IBM.

That’s a common quandary for people I know, especially those who work at large companies.

Creativity is key to being a successful entrepreneur–from how you run your business with slim resources to how you think about new business models.

But creativity isn’t enough. I’ve learned over the years that entrepreneurship takes more than a vision, a business plan, and funding.

Create the market, don’t chase it.
Being an entrepreneur takes energy and a lot of homework. It’s important to research industry developments and demographic trends because society is always changing. You need to understand what the market is doing and what events are influencing it. That will give you insight into business needs and how the market is responding so you can shape it. It’s all about creating first-mover advantage, whether you are at a big company like IBM or at a small startup in Silicon Valley.

Test your idea with other people.
The last thing I want is an echo chamber of agreement. I’ve found it helpful to vet my idea with two or three people who don’t think like me and who will be brutally honest. It’s also a good way to build a network of allies. If you can convince naysayers, they will become your fiercest advocates and help you sell your idea through their own network and management teams. They will also force you to answer hard questions you may not have thought about.

Be self-aware and know what skills you lack.
If you are an idea person, surround yourself with financial and operations experts. If you are an “execution” person, seek out visionaries and market analyzers.

You have to be a risk-taker and believe in your gut that it is the right thing to do–but don’t ignore market signs.
You will always find people who will try to convince you that you are too early to market, too costly, or off the mark. If you have done your homework and have sufficient market information to make a decision, then you have to trust your instincts and keep moving forward.

Photo by barunpatro.

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