Pain Yields Innovation

Here is a great little article from Wired Magazine about how economic turmoil breeds innovation.

“With the world’s economies apparently snowballing into a deep recession, it feels uncomfortably Pollyannish to see signs of hope. But for the bravest inventors and entrepreneurs, conditions are ideal to pounce on a business opportunity. In periods of economic turmoil, people are hungry and work cheap, and entrenched companies often concentrate on in-house cost-cutting instead of exploring new markets, which can explode with the next turn of the business cycle. When VCs from Foundation Capital met with their nervous investors recently, the partners advised them to stay the course rather than follow their peers into the bunkers. “Our strongest companies have the potential to be whales when the market opens up,” partner Paul Holland told the group. “This is the crucible that forges great companies.”

What makes a good Entrepreneur?

What makes a successful entreprenur?  What does it mean to hire for entreprenurial qualities?  

There probably is not a hard answer to these questions but there sure are a lot of opinions.  I’ve had the opportunity to mentor under the most successful entreprenurs in the industry and tried to come up with the top 5 list of characteritics that make up a successful entreprenur.  I tried to stay away from the obvious ones like confidence, hard work, risk taker, sense of vision, etc and focus on the ones that were insightful for me. 

Here we go ….

  1. Ability to suspend conventional thinking — conventional thinking surrounds us and it takes a certain personality to “swim against the current” while all the other fish laugh at you.   Not only does it surround you but society will enforce conventional thinking and beat down your idea.  It’s funny that this often can be percieved as a lack of common sense.  Just imagine, what people said to Walt Disney in the beginning.  “The crazy guy is drawing cartoons in his basement.”    
  2. Hunger and Drive — this is more of a generic trait but it was important enough to keep on my list. People can’t just get a degree in “Entreprenurial” thinking and be successful.  There is something deep down that motivates you to work 20 hour days.  It’s different for everything but personal motivation is key.  
  3. Raw execution skills — some would say that start ups are 10% idea and 90% execution.  Every entrepreueur that I have worked with has the ability to just get things done.  Whatever it takes –even  McGuyver style!   The real trick here is being able to balance the execution skills with visionary thinking.    
  4. Ability to learn from failure — as the old saying goes, “Just rub some dirt on it”.  Failure and learning from failure is just part of the process.  You try something, pick yourself up, figure out what you did wrong and try again.  
  5. Luck — And most important of all, luck!  Sometimes it just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.    

Please let me know your thoughts.  I would love to hear what is on your list.