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INSIGHTS: Reflections from 101 of Yale’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs by Chris LoPresti.
In the last couple of years the creation of a wildly successful startup has become extremely alluring for young business graduates. Every one of them wants to be the next Steve Jobs. And who can blame them? In Insights, Chris LoPresti pulls together advice from Yale’s most successful entrepreneurs.
Most of the young graduates don’t really know the colossal efforts and passion that they must possess when they start their entrepreneurial journey. If you want to go down the road of being your own boss, you need to really, REALLY want it. Insights takes us behind the scenes of what that’s really like.
ENTREPRENEURIAL MUST-HAVES / INSIGHTS
“The winners are the entrepreneurs who keep going when hope seems lost.” Linda Tong
Chris LoPresti is a 2012 Yale graduate who, at that time, was at a crossroads: continue with his startup or get a corporate job. Earlier that year he’d had an idea about a consumer data technology company, TouchPoints, that would help brands connect with their community. LoPresti is also the founder and chairman of ELIS Inc., a nonprofit that promotes STEM education and supports the next generation of entrepreneurs.
The process of creating Insights began when Chris LoPresti reached out to former Yale students and asked them how they’d tackled the challenges of becoming successful. The result is priceless advice from 101 self-made men and women for the budding entrepreneur.
The fundamental concepts of Insights revolve around:
- embracing risk by seeking beyond regular things, becoming contrarian and looking for disruption;
- finding the right people, in terms of co-founder(s), employees, and investors;
- learning how to sell a story, not only a business plan;
- letting go of the habit of perfecting and refining your end product or service – your first priority is the launch, then with the help of your customers you’ll make the required adjustments.
Insights is split into 9 chapters:
“Getting Started” – a chapter on facing risks as a part of your entrepreneurial story, keeping your convictions unshakable, about daring, doing and having fun.
“Startups” – a journey through definitions, experiences and basic rules of entrepreneurship.
“Becoming an Entrepreneur” – from dreaming to becoming through influencers’ eyes.
“Motives and Motivations” – a chapter about how work can meet real life and live together happily ever after.
“People” – how important is the team, after all?
“Being the Best” – a chapter about how to walk on wire without fear and naturally embrace mistakes.
“The Path Isn’t Always Straight” – and work isn’t a long word. Read this part if you want to understand the truth hidden behind those words.
“Perseverance” – lessons about not giving up.
“From Experience” – learning from the best reveals the materialization of some unique ideas.
LoPresti ends with some final observations about the “things somebody should have told you before embarking on your quest”. Just keep in mind that:
“The biggest reason entrepreneurs fail is because they never even start. So start.” Elli Sharef
One of the entrepreneurs – David Meyers, Ph.D. – learned the hard way that people are the ones who make or break a company. Here are some of the pointers you can apply in your own business adventure:
- Trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling about someone, try and get a second or third opinion. You’ll need strong relationships to venture into the unknown. Then again, don’t waste your time and energy on something doomed.
- Don’t wait. If you sense that something’s off with the people you work with, address it right away. In a small work environment everyone needs to be in sync. If you delay “the talk” you’ll damage the entire business. Move on if you can’t find a solution.
- Build the right team. The rule of three applies here. Each candidate should be evaluated by three separate professionals, who need to agree upon each choice they make. Be choosy, never stop looking for the best, and remember that diversity is the key.
“Nobody cares where you went to school if you have a great idea and a kickass team.” Casey Gerald
- Avoid hierarchical people. There’s no place for egos and conflict. These disruptions bring unnecessary stress that leads to disastrous decisions. Make sure that the enterprise comes first.
- Have fun. Entrepreneurship is tough. But if you don’t enjoy yourself then what’s the point of doing it in the first place?
- Get out of your comfort zone. It’s refreshing to get over your imposed limitations. By doing this you’re expanding your skill set. It will help you cope with the various roles that you may undertake in the future.
- Practicing radical honesty. You have a business idea. Now it’s time to share it with the world. Just a heads-up: don’t ask your friends for an opinion. Usually, they don’t want to confront you or let you down so they lie, leaving you with no reliable feedback.
- Imperfection is alright. For those who are perfectionists (myself included), this is the hardest thing to tolerate. But it’s essential not to get caught up in the details. It will slow you down.
“While some activities will require close to perfection, seek imperfection where it matters less.” Mie-Yun Lee
- Don’t take it personally. You’re going to hear the word “no” countless times. Some of your ideas will fail. Investors will be hard to find or they will bail out. It’s just another day at the office for a startup enthusiast.
Chris LoPresti wrote Insights for the entrepreneurs, from the entrepreneurs. It’s a rare gift to have a preview of the challenges you’ll encounter on your road to success. I’ll leave you with one of the nuggets that caught my eye:
“You deserve less blame for your failures and less credit for your successes than you might imagine.” Mitch Kapor
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