Archive for January 2010

What U.S. Entrepreneurs Can Learn from a Tiny Up-Start

In the new book Start–Up Nation, authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer chronicle the story of Israel’s “economic miracle”, and how a country of 7 million people with no natural resources, surrounded by enemies, and in a perpetual state of war, produces more start-up companies than large peaceful and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The book suggests a number of explanations for this success, but I would like to offer my top ten, which have direct applicability to today’s entrepreneurs in the United States:

1. Persist in the Face of Adversity. Going on your own is tough, and the one step backwards can often seem more like a treadmill in reverse than a prelude to the two steps forward. Keep your eye on the prize and take it one day at a time.

2. Networking is a Necessity. Gone are the days of the know-it-all, one-man band style of entrepreneurship. Yes, you must lead, but yes, you must arm yourself with all the tools you can, and access as many connections as possible along the way. Wherever possible, get a little help from your “friends.”

3. Think Cross Culturally. In our increasingly global economy, learning how others think is essential. Celebrating diversity is good to do and good for business.

4. Need to be Nimble. As small entities, start-ups can and must stay nimble. As technology increases at an increasing rate keep your eyes open and beware of being the “eight track” before you even hit the marketplace.

5. Create “Mashups”. Increasingly modern industry is assimilating cross-disciplinary perspectives. The breakthroughs of tomorrow will come from technologies designed for one product being married to technologies designed for something totally different to create a third new and exciting product.

6. Celebrate Failure. Ask any successful entrepreneur. No question there are more learnings from failure than success. The key is to distance oneself psychologically so that a business failure does not become a cause for personal failure,

7. Support Industrial Policy which Spawns New Initiatives. We’re all in this together. New industries need public assistance in the incubation stage. The key is to calibrate the entry, the exit and the specifics, but history shows us that public/private initiatives can pay off big for everyone.

8. Creativity is King. Thinking outside the box is going to be increasingly important as we face the almost insurmountable challenges confronting us today—shortages of clean water, global climate change, world hunger. The list is endless, and business opportunities abound while social good is being achieved.

9. Boost Bottom-Up Management. Command and control didn’t work too well for General Motors in 2009’s economy. Israeli army units and tech startups share something in common, the perspective that the success of the enterprise trumps individual glory, and thus good ideas are listened to no matter where they come from.

10. Have a Little Chutzpah. As I write in my book Business Mensch, to break through and stand out in today’s start-up “jungle” one must know which rules should be broken when and for what ultimate purpose. Very few “home-run” business ideas succeeded without ruffling a few feathers.

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