Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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Exclusive Q&A with Bill Aulet, author of Disciplined Entrepreneurship
Why did you name the book Disciplined Entrepreneurship?
I love the name because in two words it captures the dichotomy that makes for a successful entrepreneur: the fearless spirit of a pirate with the execution skills of a Navy SEAL Team Six. At the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, we help our student entrepreneurs strike this balance.
Why did you decide to write this book now?
The book came about because MIT’s Howard Anderson and I were teaching an introductory entrepreneurship class and over time the class grew from five teams of four students to over 100 teams. We worked very hard to put materials together to help us teach the class in a scalable manner, and I soon realized that this was a pervasive problem that could cause a real crisis and halt the progress entrepreneurship was making in society. That was why I started writing the book.
What does it take to be an entrepreneur?
I get this question everywhere I go. Many people have the misperception that successful entrepreneurs are born, not made, with a history of high achievement. Other misperceptions are that entrepreneurs are mercurial individualists, that they love risk, and that they are undisciplined. In most cases it is quite the opposite; research has been proving more and more that entrepreneurship can be taught and that should be considered a legitimate profession and discipline. Entrepreneurship is a team-sport where ideas are much less important than the team’s ability to execute in a highly focused manner.
What makes you qualified to write a book on entrepreneurship?
In my 15 years of doing and teaching entrepreneurship, I’ve gained a lot of wisdom from the scar tissue of failure. It’s not that I’m a guru, it’s that I figure out what works and I pass on that knowledge. I’m fortunate to have this fabulous position at MIT from which I can foster a community where people can learn from each other.
After working at IBM for 11 years, I started my first company, which failed. This failure was so visceral and so real, and I learned a tremendous amount while crashing and burning. Above all, I became aware that the team that you work with is critically important. You need to collaborate with someone you can trust and who works in a way that is complementary to you.
Is there anyone who has been a particular inspiration to you?
During my time at IBM, I was amazed by the late Thomas Watson, Jr., who was able to scale a company in a way few others have done. The person who has probably inspired me even more is Mitch Kapor, who started Lotus Development Corporation and demonstrated that people could do positive things for society through business. He showed me business could be cool. He transformed Cambridge’s Kendall Square into a hub for innovation-driven entrepreneurship.
How does presenting the entrepreneurial process as a series of steps or a roadmap help the reader?
Entrepreneurship is not a purely sequential process, but we needed to give people a place to start to keep them from getting lost. I broke it down and determined the most logical starting point and built it from there. While there are many iterative loops along the roadmap, it gives enough structure so that people can get going.
Who should buy this book?
The people who should buy this book are those who are interested in entrepreneurship and want to understand the process. They may be first time entrepreneurs, experienced entrepreneurs interested in doing it again, or businesspeople trying to turn their ventures into high growth companies. In addition, many large, established companies are interested in utilizing the book to prove their innovation capability.
How does your book relate to the current state of the economy?
Creating jobs isn’t just about small businesses per se, it’s even more about new, high growth businesses. The Kauffman Foundation found that in 2007, two-thirds of new jobs came from companies one to five years old. Disciplined Entrepreneurship is about creating these new businesses that will drive economic growth.
How did you decide to work with an illustrator? What is your favorite illustration in the book?
The illustrations make the book more accessible. In my experience, people learn a lot more when they’re having fun. The illustrations add a dimension of fun to the book that make people more open to its message. They also distill the essence of each step.
My favorite illustration is the last one, because it drives the point that knowledge doesn’t set you free, but action does. Starting a company is not solely an analytical exercise; it requires action. That idea is a good one to end on, and it really resonates with entrepreneurs.
From the Back Cover
PRAISE FOR DISCIPLINED ENTREPRENEURSHIP
"Entrepreneurship is not only a mindset but a skill set. The 24 Steps presents a practical step-by-step process to channel the creative spirit to maximize the chances of success and ultimate impact."
―MITCH KAPOR, founder, Lotus Development Corporation
"Entrepreneurship is a learned skill which can be honed through crisp execution. This book can help every entrepreneur dramatically increase the likelihood of success by providing step-by-step guidance on how to approach starting a new business. I recommend it to all ambitious entrepreneurs."
―DOUG LEONE, Managing Partner, Sequoia Capital
"While the spirit of entrepreneurship is often about serendipity, the execution is not. This book takes you through a systematic approach to significantly increase your odds of succeeding in making a world-changing and sustainable company."
―JOI ITO, Director, MIT Media Lab
"While I am not a big fan of business plans, I am a big fan of the business planning process. This book provides an invaluable comprehensive framework for innovation-driven entrepreneurs to execute the business planning process."
―BRAD FELD, Managing Director of the Foundry Group, co-founder of TechStars, and creator of the Startup Revolution book series --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B00DQ97TWO
- Publisher : Wiley; 1st edition (July 31, 2013)
- Publication date : July 31, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 19566 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 394 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #61,308 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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You can buy this book, and immediately apply the concepts to either build or improve your business. Full stop. I can’t think of any other business book that could be described by those words. (and my business library is comprehensive)
Are you considering starting a business from scratch? This is the book to buy.
Already built a going concern? Buy this book and identify your gaps. They’re going to be huge.
In the building process? Get this book now, and start shoring up your flawed efforts to ensure the best possible outcomes.
First, brief credentials. I’ve spent 20+ years failing forward as an entrepreneur, and have witnessed firsthand the evolution of entrepreneurship (innovation driven business creation) as a distinct discipline and skill-set, as well as the support and frameworks to aid and assist in creating more successful ventures.
15-20 years ago, the only widely available resources were the Small Business Association (SBA), which focused on geographically focused businesses with well defined business models and low levels of innovation and uncertainty, and the Seasoned Core Of Retired Executives (SCORE) which paired execs from established businesses with business owners. There was a huge disconnect however, because neither of these organizations distinguished between owner/operators of well known enterprises, and entrepreneurs/founders of businesses with innovation as a core aspect of their DNA. It was a mess.
Part of that mess was identified and discussed as methodologies and tools like agile development, lean startup, design thinking, etc emerged to articulate the specific differences between new businesses that operated with innovation as a fundamental and essential differentiator (with the accompanying uncertainty and attempts to mitigate/reduce it), and the well known models of established businesses---as well as why and how the processes and methods that work in established businesses--didn’t work. Or, even worse, flat out will smother and kill ventures at that stage.
But despite it’s popularity, Lean Startup hasn’t delivered on the promise of less waste, more successful businesses. At least, not yet. Not any that can be easily witnesses or seen. I’ve had first hand involvement with TechStars and Y Combinator companies that have progressed from idea to full blown scalable, profitable, sustainable ventures, and each of these teams struggled with attempting to bridge the gap of theory to the daily grind of starting a business.
Key issues they all faced;
--Lean Startup exhorts identifying key assumptions and running fast experiments. OK, that might work for customer development, but does nothing to help ID customers and market segments (doesn't even meaningfully mention them). It does nothing to advance understanding customers, or ID'ing beachheads, determining financials (like market sizing), determining pricing, evaluating overall economics of the business . . .
--Identifying and understanding discrete elements of a successful business.
--Prioritization. (many/most had a sense of dependencies, but didn't know where to start in understanding what the elements were, or how they were related)
--Application. (even if they had an idea of what they needed done, they wouldn’t know *how* to do it)
--Assessment/Diagnosis: Trying to understand how to interpret what was happening in their business. Struggling to zero in on what was causing the issue, discovering the ever elusive “why?”
This is the single most useful book with that regard. It’s practical. It calls out the discrete elements in a very clear manner. And while there’s a reduction of something immensely complex, that simplicity isn’t due to omission. It’s just base mastery of the subject matter.
Several reviewers have suggested that this is a guide to help aspiring or new entrepreneurs. Maybe.
I’d suggest that this is actually much more useful to a sophisticated entrepreneur. Most of us have succeeded for reasons we can’t articulate. We have hunches, and we kinda sorta know what we do, but we couldn’t always explain it effectively. What this book does is provide a taxonomy for efficiently organizing and categorizing the “what” of building a business. I, and many others whom I have shared this book with, had the experience of reading this book and recognizing things we have always done, organized into a precise framework. It instantly improved our thinking, and brought order to thinking and working that was otherwise disordered and sometimes flat out chaotic.
Also, this framework does a damn good job of recognizing ACTUAL dependencies that rule the physics of all businesses, not the perceived physics (that favor the perceptions and skills of the founders). This lays out the must haves, in an order that is always true. Deviation from that sequential development is almost always going to cost you time and money.
This framework isn’t perfect. It’s going to continue to evolve. That said, it’s my opinion that this is the single best example of the state of the art in Innovation Driven Entrepreneurship.
Everybody can improve their business, tangibly, and in the very short term, through applying this framework and the processes laid out.
Recommended without reservation.
Buy it now.
I am now working on my 5th company and we are about 2 years in. I took the book and compared to what we have already accomplished and found many ways in which we didn't do enough or could have been more thorough. The payback was instant. It has made us a better company.
New entrepreneurs especially, will benefit from this book. It forces you to do the real work to demonstrate if your idea for a company has legs or not. Can you create and capture value? This book will help you make that determination fast!
If you only get one book on entrepreneurship, this should be it!
Founder Madaket Health
Most readers are looking for quick tricks, and the fast path to success. Let the other books encourage you to throw darts at a dart board, Disciplined Entrepreneurship is the opposite - a specific method (not a formula) on developing a concept, and a new venture.
The book is both entertaining, very well written and packed with techniques, examples, insights and wisdom. Don't let the fact that it's a textbook fool you - it's easy to read and also packed with clever and useful illustrations.
Highly recommended for every serious entrepreneur, seasoned entrepreneur, and for for those who may one day become entrepreneurs.
I breezed through this book in a matter of hours, taking several notes throughout where I could directly apply the principles to my existing ventures. I can't remember the last time I picked up a book of this nature and found such immediate, practical use out of it.
This book is a must for anyone that wants to cultivate their idea, technology, or passion into an impactful venture.
Top reviews from other countries
However I fear that the book is almost too accessible for its own good! I know a few people I have recommended it to who describe it as a 'coffee-table' book and frankly dismiss it. They seem to believe that without pain, long words, a high price and dense intellectual text there will be no value.
What Bill Aulet has done is filter his vast experience and knowledge to very sharp succinct text. It is only after seeing dozens of businesses fail that one can appreciate the depth of what Bill Aulet has written.
For new entrepreneurs what I recommend is that they use the book almost as a 'workbook' going through each chapter in turn and looking to write a couple of pages on how it can be translated into their own business. One of my big concerns about a lot of startups (especially in Europe and the UK) is that the entrepreneurs do inadequate research and modelling before they launch into the business - typical questions that are not properly answered are:
(1) What is a typical real life customer profile?
(2) What is the end customer willing to pay?
(3) What is the buying cycle and what are the hurdles you need to cross?
(4) Is there sufficient bottom up demand?
(5) Will you make any money even if you sell some product?
(6) How will you get your next 100 customers?
Indeed without answering the above questions you cannot work out how much money you will need for your startup - or frankly if it is worth spending the next several years of your life doing the startup.
Bill Aulet's book will help you answer these and other questions in a structured way. If you are serious about having a successful startup I would recommend using this book to help you develop your business plan. Frankly, if I was fresh faced and doing my own startup I would:
(1) Buy a copy of this book for each startup team member
(2) Have everyone read through it over a weekend
(3) Spend the following week working through the chapters step by step and working out a plan of action - eg how are you going to approach your lead customer; how are you going to get a beachhead etc.
(4) Then spend the following month or two working on the business plan and the workstreams that come from the above
(5) At the end of that you will have a far more robust business plan and increase your chances of success significantly
However the honest truth is that too many 'entrepreneurs' will 'glance' at this book, dismiss it as a coffee table book and only recognise years later that it could have helped them significantly....
... but if even one entrepreneur succeeds in his business due to my recommendation for this book and the action plan I suggest above then I will consider the time taken to write this review as time well spent.
If this book was in a dull cover, with matt paper and was padded out with 10 times the words (even if they added no extra information) and was priced several times more expensive then I suspect some of the entrepreneurs I mentor might take it more seriously. For the rest of the world - just appreciate that Bill Aulet is an MIT Professor - and students pay thousands to attend his course there.
- Book extremely shallow in examples, yes there are some stories in each chapter but are very shallow nothing deep at all.
- The author seems to include un logical order of steps for the sake of differentiation like making market research without having an idea. Also he made a different name instead of MVP to be minimum viable business product with the same criteria just changing the name.
The only part I found it useful is how to calculate cost of customer acquisition other than this the book is not worth the time there are many other books that tackles the same topic and could be worth the time and money and contains much valuable information.