At Economics For Entrepreneurs, we believe that everyone can be an entrepreneur, should they choose to do so. It may take you some time to find exactly your best niche, and a few experiments may be in order. The right mindset, we propose, is to pursue your entrepreneurial goal with belief and commitment, while being sufficiently adaptive to make some adjustments along the path when new information and new learning becomes available.
This week we spoke with Ricky Porco, a young CEO who already has several entrepreneurial experiences to his name. He’s been co-founder of an innovative community-building platform, and of a software development company. He’s also been a marketing, sales and do-it-all guy at a digital marketing agency, and now he runs a service company to help small businesses make the transition from paper to digital – i.e. he’s an entrepreneur who supports entrepreneurs.
Starting entrepreneurship early in life is an advantage. Ricky tells listeners how he started his entrepreneurial career in college, packing a lot of learning into a short period of time. It’s a permanent advantage he’s carried forward with him into every subsequent stage of his journey.
It might take you a few tries to understand what kind of entrepreneurship is best for you. You might expect to switch businesses two, three, four or more times, changing markets, organizations, and business models. Make sure you make your choices purposefully, and commit to active learning from each one.
You might even try life as an employee to learn by comparison. Ricky switched into the role of employee at one stage. He was able to observe how the boss he reported to struggled with management and growth, and learn from it, while gaining confidence in his own skills through his success as a rainmaker for this employer.
You quickly find out the importance of financial management. Ricky quickly found out that he and his co-founders were good a business model design, product development, marketing and sales, but a start-up is financially immature by definition and can easily run out of cash. Without sound and disciplined financial management, all the other skills and capabilities can count for nought.
And you also quickly find out that effective marketing is essential to every business. Some of Ricky’s clients see marketing as optional – “if there are funds left over”. The opposite is true: marketing is a fundamental requirement.
Organizational structure and design is a critical factor in success, and especially in opening information flows. The biggest threat to the entrepreneurial success of a firm is a clogged information flow, when employees or partners don’t have clear direction or timely data. This can easily happen in founder-centric companies and especially in family-owned businesses that tend to be hierarchical.
Digitization is the best opener of information flows: software is organization. One simple solution to the clogged information flow is digitization. Software solves the problem; there’s no hierarchy in Slack.