The best advice I can ever give an entrepreneur is to “fail fast”. It may sound a little pessimistic, but just think about the numbers. Something like 9 in 10 companies that get investment will do no better than pay back investors. If you haven’t even obtained investment yet, the odds are higher than 90% that this will not be your big hit.
The problem is the #1 most important part of a business plan. It’s no accident that most business plan templates start here. If you don’t understand the problem you’re solving , you’ll build the wrong solution. If you don’t have the right problem, it will be very difficult to sell your product.
As a side-effect of my time in the startup community, I have been exposed to significant amounts of Grant Writing. I was tapped to manage a $15m Entrepreneurship Signature Program grant application as well as extension grants for several of those programs. In addition, I have assisted companies in seeking Ohio Third Frontier Internship Program and TechGenesis grants.
My work in Epistemology started out as a simple question, “how can two people, holding diametrically opposed viewpoints, both firmly believe that they are right?” At the time, the most relevant and visible questions were political. However, the 40th anniversary of the moon landing provided an excellent opportunity to challenge the status quo.
My interest in artificial intelligence started young. It was pretty easy when your early exposure to science fiction was Data (an android character on Star Trek) and reading the complete fiction of Asimov (who actually coined the word robot).
One of my first major research projects developed during my MBA. A fascination with economics slowly crystallized into a specific study of Monetary Economics. I think the most revealing anecdote was my effort to acquire a 1956 issue of International Economic Papers where Schumpeter (famous for coining the term “creative destruction”) discussed his theory on money.
If you spend any time with start-ups, you see that their #1 problem is sales and marketing. Sales is probably the most important part of a business, but marketing makes the first impression. If you don’t send the right message from the beginning, you set yourself up for failure.
While I love the self-employed lifestyle, I always have to benchmark my earnings against a full time position. A jobs site recently asked me what title I’d be looking for in my “next” job. While the question had never occurred to me, “Director of Innovation” was the obvious answer. Two key skill sets make me perfect for this type of work.