Another plan arrives in the InBox. Take a look. Never heard of these people before but there is no cover note in the email. What are they looking for and why? I have ten minutes before I have to leave for a meeting so open the attachment and have a look. So far the entrepreneur is lucky. His proposal is being read... now to categorise the applicant... what box will they call into?
So you have a problem. What do you do? Does this sound like you?
Do you think about solutions that you have used before and see if they would solve this problem sufficiently? Once you’ve got a number of solutions do you think about how effective they would be before implement one of them. Next, do you monitor the results and look for another solution if things did not work out as expected? If you couldn’t find a solution, do you start searching for new ideas by talking to mentors, advisors, friends, family; start reading online, books, magazines, etc. Then compile a list of solutions for potential implementation as before?
If so, then you are a normal member of the human race! What makes Entrepreneurs different? I suggest that there are several things:
- Profiling solutions. I find that Entrepreneurs are generally very effective at finding many different possible solutions for the same problem. Once they have a set of solutions, each with different consequences, they can understand and build a risk profile for each idea. Entrepreneurs are happy to abandon an idea and pick another if it appears to better even if the idea is not their own (or simply triggered by someone else).
- Resources of solutions. The effective Entrepreneurs have a good range of resources for finding solutions to problems when they don’t know the answer themselves. They know a large number of people, all from different professions and with different passions that they can test a nascent idea on before filling in the detail.
- Speed of assessment. Once a range of solutions have been found (from whatever source), Entrepreneurs are very quick to assess the quality of each idea and how well it will solve the original problem. Is the timescale right? What is the risk of failing to solve the problem? Is the cost (time and/or money) less than the benefit (time and/or money)? What are the impacts on other systems that might be in place?
- Building a knowledge base. Entrepreneurs have a huge range of potential solutions stored in their head. They are continually filling the solution space by reading and listening to copious amounts of material about all subjects that they come across. Entrepreneurs are truly multi-disciplinary in their understanding of the world and how it works.
Let’s take an example to see how this might work.
My problem was organising meetings with a large number of people to talk about Lean Commercialisation and TiE Sydney. I was using a manual system where I had a diary which I offered different time slots to different people. Different people responded at different times, gave alternative times, suggested different locations (could I get from one meeting to the next?), etc. It was becoming a nightmare.
What were the solutions?
- Business as usual. This is always a solution but I was spending a lot of time and ending up with a lot of slack & traveling time.
- Use an online app. There are many of these available and I looked at lots. Some are quite sophisticated (e.g. allow charging for time slots, give more slots options to more important contacts, etc.). But this suffered the problem of two calendars – which means manually transferring information from one place to another. Time consuming and error prone.
- Write my own app. I’m lucky, most people don’t have this option but I do! I thought about how the front end would look (could I make it look professional), how the code works, interaction with the current calendar and how long it would take to build.
In the end I chose the last option and it took me around three hours to code and make live. It’s very simple so not much testing was required. And, most importantly, it works.
When I’m arranging a meeting I now include the URL to allow others to choose a good time for them and me to meet. Slack time has reduced and travel time has gone down. Success.
What I’d like to know is how you rate yourself. Use the form below to let me know and I’ll publish the combined (anonymous) results…