A podcast based on the winning principle that entrepreneurs need only know the laws of economics plus the minds of customers. After that, apply your imagination.

3. Per Bylund on The Role of The Entrepreneur

At Economics For Entrepreneurs, we are going to combine theory and thought leadership about how entrepreneurship works, with practical advice and shared experience from those who have achieved entrepreneurial success. This week we featured Per Bylund. He is an economist who observes what entrepreneurs actually do, rather than analyzing the statistics of GDP growth and macro-economic trends.  He’s a research fellow in entrepreneurship at Mises Institute, a teacher of entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University, a writer of books about firm-level economics and of a regular series of articles in Entrepreneur magazine, and he himself has been a serial entrepreneur. He has a lot to share.

Show Notes

Below are some of the highlights from the show, and the corresponding Customer Journey Map tool is posted here and available for download in PDF form below.

Economics can’t help entrepreneurs much by talking in abstractions about economic growth and economic systems. That’s not what you as an individual entrepreneur are engaged in. You are trying to make a living, and you are trying to create value for others via new or different services. Economics can help with applications of sound principles that help entrepreneurs build better-performing businesses.

What you are doing as an entrepreneur is not for you. It’s for the customer. They decide what is value. It’s not enough to generate an idea. The entrepreneur must ask, with objective honesty, is this valuable? For whom? How is it valuable? Value is subjective in the customer’s mind, so you have to empathize, penetrate that mind and understand it in the customer’s terms.

So don’t start at the wrong end of the process. Don’t be thinking: I want to produce something. How much can I produce it for and sell it at a profit? Rather, you should be thinking: who is out there looking for a value; what is valuable to them?

Price is determined by the customer. You can only sell a product or service for a price that is lower than its value, and value is determined entirely by the customer.

Similarly, you don’t “make a sale” to the customer. You make it a no-brainer for the customer to buy because you offer a better product or service than they’ve got today, and one that is better value for them.

Customer centricity, or customer obsession is a good path. Listen to customers, and learn what they are looking for, and what represents value to them.

Always be thinking about how to meet the future. Customer wants and needs and circumstances and preferences are always changing. Anticipating the change is the stock-in-trade of the entrepreneur. That’s not necessarily the same as innovating. You can create new value by anticipating future needs. Listen to people and look for trends.

Everyone can be an entrepreneur and it’s a very fulfilling experience. Entrepreneurship is aspirational. It’s something you do for customers, and making people better off is very rewarding. They’ll buy your products and services only if they feel that it’s a benefit for them. If you are successful, you’ve helped them. And to be successful, you must be doing something you are good at, which is another source of reward.

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PDF icon Download the Customer Journey Mapping Tool (1 Page Version).pdf (2MB)

PDF icon Download the Customer Journey Mapping Tool (3 Page Version).pdf (2MB)

PDF icon Download How To Use the Customer Journey Mapping Tool.pdf (101KB)

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2. Trini Amador on the Role of Values in Business

Values As A Basis For Business Building And Brand Building.

In Economics For Entrepreneurs, we will attempt to bring you some usable tools that represent a way to apply economic principles to your business to help you to greater success. Economists talk about individuals embracing values as a guidepost to the right behavior and the right choices. An example of such a value might be Family Security. An individual who holds this value in high esteem will make certain choices about their career, for example, perhaps emphasizing stability over frequent change. Another individual who prefers an exciting life might make the choice of more change, excited by the possibilities it brings. How can entrepreneurs diagnose and understand these idiosyncratic choices and take cognizance and advantage of them in business? This week we talked with Trini Amador, who is an entrepreneur who advises some of the biggest corporations in the world on these mysteries, and has built a highly successful values-based brand of his own. Here are some highlights.

Show Notes

People adopt values as a guide to their behavior and a signpost for prioritizing their preferences and choices. For example, a sense of achievement might be a value for one individual to pursue, and in as many circumstances as they feel are applicable, they’ll ask themselves, “Will this choice or action bring me a sense of accomplishment?

There are many possible values; individuals tend to be most motivated by their “highest values”. Entrepreneurs who can identify these highest values in their customers, and can develop an understanding of how to appeal to them, can be especially successful in designing value propositions and service offerings.

The way for entrepreneurs to understand how to appeal to consumers’ highest values is to think about climbing up the values ladder to reach the top. Their first encounter with your business will be at the bottom rung – the service or product you are offering. Their first question will be, what’s the benefit for me? If they see a functional benefit, they’ll ask themselves if it makes them feel good – proud, comfortable, energized, whatever feeling is relevant. If they experience an emotional benefit, they’ll ask if your offering fits with their highest value – that’s what makes them a devoted and loyal customer.

The tool to help your business climb the values ladder is the Mean-End Chain. We posted a simple example with Episode #1.

When you’ve constructed a Means-Ends chain for your target customer, you can begin to populate a brand framework. People are loyal to brands, and they often pay a premium price. A brand can be a person (you) or a business (yours) or a product or a service. Trini explains how to populate the brand framework to make your brand relevant to the target audience and differentiated by making a unique promise that you keep every time.

These are the brand building tools utilized by the world’s most successful brands. Trini delivers the insider’s knowledge.

1. Peter Klein on Means and Ends

There are some economic principles that can help entrepreneurs in their business-building endeavors. One is the understanding of ends and means. What ends (goals, objectives) are your customers pursuing, and how do they choose the means to achieve those ends? The customer is in charge of choosing ends, and the entrepreneur takes charge of offering the most attractive and valuable means. How do entrepreneurs solve that equation? We asked Peter Klein. Peter is Professor of Entrepreneurship at Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business. He is also Senior Research Fellow at Baylor’s Baugh Center for Entrepreneurship and Free Enterprise and Adjunct Professor of Strategy and Management at the Norwegian School of Economics. He knows ends and means.

Show Notes

Economics helps entrepreneurs in a very practical sense by shining a very bright light on human motivation. In economic terms, people act. They do things. And when they do things, they always have purpose in mind. They are goal oriented. The entrepreneur’s job is to figure out how to help customers achieve a goal that they already have in mind.

Thinking about this principle in simple terms helps entrepreneurs develop a deep understanding of customer value chains. Why for example, do people choose to drink coffee? It doesn’t just happen. People raise a coffee cup to their lips because they want to enjoy the taste. Or maybe to give themselves a caffeine boost. Or perhaps they are drinking coffee in a social context and they want to enjoy the shared experience. Economists are always thinking about the customer’s goal in taking a certain action — and entrepreneurs can benefit from thinking the same way.

How and why do people decide on their ends? Economists — and entrepreneurs — don’t judge. We just want to find out what ends the customer is pursuing. And how behavior might change if circumstances change — for example, if prices rise, the customer might buy less or stop buying altogether.

How can entrepreneurs find out about what motivates customers to pursue certain ends and use certain means? By immersing themselves in a market — like the consumer market for coffee as a beverage — and thinking about it from all angles: psychology, economics, history, culture, fashion, supply chain, marketing. Like Howard Schultz observing coffee shop behavior in Milan as a precursor to launching Starbucks in the US. He deduced from his observations what Americans might derive from a similar experience if he provided it.

How do entrepreneurs develop the appropriate skills and knowledge? Not from reading books, that’s for sure. It’s instinct plus tools. The tool discussed in this episode is the Means-Ends Chain. It’s the tool that helps entrepreneurs understand that they are not selling — and the customer is not buying — coffee, but an experience.

The skillful entrepreneur links the proximate product — the coffee — to the desired experience — the “third place” experience as Starbucks calls it — in a convincing and persuasive manner. This requires exploration and experiment to get it right. It’s never obvious.

That’s why economists refer to uncertainty — it’s the situation all entrepreneurs face. You never know the future outcome until you try. The entrepreneur must be flexible in exploring the customer’s ends and means. Uncertainty rules.

Entrepreneurs exercise judgment, and try to develop insights, but can never achieve certainty. Data might help but it’s not infallible. Eventually, the entrepreneur must decide to “go for it” without certainty of being right. It’s the “plunge” decision. Learning, big data, and surveys are inputs, but they can’t make the decision; only a human can.

Experience can help. In the US, the average age of the first-time entrepreneur is mid to late 40s.Experience in an industry and lived experience are helpful. And intergenerational sharing of experience — like finding a mentor — can also contribute the experience you don’t have.

Entrepreneurship is not rocket science. Know your market, know your customers, and trust your judgment and your instincts.

Introducing Economics for Entrepreneurs

The Mises Institute is launching a new podcast with the title Economics For Entrepreneurs. Why should you listen?

The entrepreneur is the central hero in the dynamic order of Austrian Economics. Mises referred to entrepreneurs as “the driving force of the whole market system”.1 Jesus Huerta de Soto points to the unique role the theory of entrepreneurship plays in Austrian Economics.

Neoclassical economists… overlook the co-ordinating force that Austrians attribute to entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurial process….is a dynamic, never-ending process which constantly spreads and furthers the advancement of civilization.2

Mises and de Soto were writing about economic roles. In Economics For Entrepreneurs, we are focused on the flesh-and-blood individuals who tackle the entrepreneurial task every day. The entrepreneurs who detect consumer and customer dissatisfactions and imagine — then produce — solutions for those dissatisfactions. The entrepreneurs who serve others by creating new value and, as a result, create the most just, moral and beneficent society for all, while creating a life of purpose and meaning for themselves.

We want to contribute knowledge and insight to that process. We want entrepreneurs to be successful. We’d like everyone to be an entrepreneur.

How is our podcast going to help? It’s a three step process. The first resource for successful entrepreneurs is understanding the laws of economics. If you have clear insight and a rigorous practical application of these laws, you have a competitive advantage over others. We’ll talk to the leading economic thinkers about the exactly how economic principles are best applied in business.

The second resource is the set of tools to apply these principles, and we’ll describe and, where possible, provide those tools for entrepreneurs to use. They can range from frameworks and processes to tools for planning and brand building. Some will make you better at specific tasks, others will augment your individual capacity, so you can be more effective.

The third resource is your imagination. We can’t provide that, but we can stimulate it. As you listen to both up-and-coming and established entrepreneurial practitioners, we think your imagination will be unleashed in multiple new directions.

The laws of economics, the tools for practical application, plus your imagination. We think that’s a winning formula.

Moreover, there is a world-changing innovation at work to which we can all contribute. If we are able to interconnect a worldwide group of entrepreneurs, the people who are the creators of new value in society, we will be able to unleash a wave of collaborative genius to change the world for the better. One entrepreneur can be smart, and one innovation can create value and one firm can grow revenues and profit. If they all share their learning and share the new information they create, and everyone acts on that learning at speed and scale, then we get to a new horizon of value creation. It’s what Austrians call spontaneous order, the driving dynamic of entrepreneurial human action, the never-ending process that constantly spreads and furthers the advancement of civilization.

We hope you will join us at Economics For Entrepreneurs. We’ll be on all of the usual podcasting platforms, plus Mises.org and HunterHastings.com.


  • 1.Human Action, Scholar’s Edition, LvMI, Ch XIV.
  • 2.Jesus Huerta de Soto, The Austrian School.