FounderScholar

An entrepreneur studies the business literature

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Several times a month you’ll receive an article with practical insight and guidance on launching and growing your business. In addition, you’ll be exposed to interesting, influential or useful research, framed for those in the startup community.

3 Powerful Time Management Principles for Makers and Thinkers

Paper, note, iPad

Any occupation that requires in-depth creative thinking also requires some non-negotiable, unfettered, undisturbed blocks of time. For these makers and thinkers, focus time is the foundation of their productivity.

Die-Hard Entrepreneurs Refuse to Quit

Yosemite's El Capitan

Ray Kroc. Steve Jobs. Evan Williams.

These powerhouse entrepreneurs have one thing in common—persistence.

Kroc relentlessly built the McDonald’s restaurant chain throughout both America and the world, in spite of stiff opposition from his own business partners.

Jobs epitomized the spirit of not giving up when he rejoined Apple as its CEO—after suffering the humiliation of being fired from that same iconic company that he co-founded years before.

You may know Willams from his work as a co-founder of Twitter. Or as the visionary leader of Medium.

But, Williams’s entrepreneurial journey started well before either of those companies.

How to Spot The Nightmare Clients Who Can Kill Your Business

Man in Dark Office Thinking about Nightmare Clients

Some clients go beyond toxic: They can become nightmares. And if a nightmare client slips by undetected for too long they can do long-lasting harm, even putting you out of business.

After years of running and advising professional services firms, I’ve learned to avoid the following nightmare clients: The low-profit client, the misaligned client, and the dead-end client.

Let’s look at how to spot each of these nightmare clients before it’s too late.

The First Day of My Business Doctorate

Library Shelves

My palms were moist as I shared a U-shaped table with 12 strangers this past Friday morning.

We were all freshies, waiting to matriculate into DePaul University’s Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program. It was day one of our cohort’s coming three-year journey together.

118 most recommended business books

Man reading on a bench

When you meet those interesting, successful people in the startup community—the serial entrepreneur redefining yet another industry or the marketing exec tossing out incisive insights as if she were seeding her lawn—have you noticed how often they reference favorite authors and book concepts?

Take note the next time you have the opportunity. You’ll notice they discuss their own experiences and ideas in language garnered from the books they’ve read.

Books expand awareness of both language and higher-level concepts, literally making readers more intelligent. And, successful people read, at least, an order of magnitude more than the average American.

Why organizations don’t learn

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Virtually every company leader will say they believe continuous improvement and being a “learning organization” are requirements to stay competitive. But, do leaders act on this belief—or is this just what one says in polite company?

In their 2015 article, “Why organizations don’t learn,” Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats explain how “biases cause people to focus too much on success, take action too quickly, try too hard to fit in, and depend too much on experts.”

The authors break down the reasons for these biases and recommend specific changes leaders can make in their organizations to mitigate against them.

Prior knowledge and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities

Figure 1. Conceptual model (adapted from Shane 2000).

There is an ongoing debate about whether investors should bet on the jockey or the horse, i.e., the founders’ abilities to succeed or the quality of the entrepreneurial opportunities pursued. There is no doubt, though, that high-quality opportunities are an important ingredient contributing to startup success, particularly when they revolve around technological innovations.

But, how do entrepreneurs discover opportunities? Scott Shane, in his 2000 article, “Prior knowledge and the discovery of entrepreneurial opportunities,” studies eight different companies that launched in an effort to exploit the 3DP™ process in different ways. Shane’s research shows “entrepreneurs discover opportunities related to the information that they already possess” and those discoveries are immediate epiphanies—not the result of systematic search and evaluation.

Cognitive mechanisms in entrepreneurship

Human cognition research suggests that we are not a totally rational species: Thinking errors and biases are part of the human condition. Baron’s 1998 article explores how entrepreneurs think differently from non-entrepreneurs and how these differences could lead to an increased susceptibility to certain thinking errors and biases. He then examines five specific thinking errors and their relevance to entrepreneurs.

Outsmart your own biases

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Humans are riddled with thinking biases. We rely on two different cognitive systems for decision making. System 1 thinking relies on intuition, whereas System 2 uses rational, deliberate reasoning. Unfortunately, both systems are imperfect and wrought with thinking biases that can lead to poor decision making. Soll, Milkman, and Payne, in their 2015 article, provide an assortment of methods to help managers identify and overcome some of the most common decision-making traps.

The questions every entrepreneur must answer

Figure. An entrepreneur's guide to the big issues

Bhide’s paper presents a strategic framework for entrepreneurs based on asking themselves three questions to clarify the goals for their business, pick the right strategies to achieve those goals, and importantly, determine if they can successfully execute those strategies. The framework doesn’t prescribe answers, but instead, “helps entrepreneurs pose useful questions, identify important issues, and evaluate solutions.”