We live in a time where starting something has never been so easy. There are many incredible startup, business strategy and problem solving disciplines, approaches and methodologies. My approach to entrepreneurship combines three elements:
Mission-led entrepreneurship: the idea that we should focus on clear problems that have a personal significance.
Human-centric design thinking: that solutions must be thought through in terms of all stakeholders and that the route to the right product is iterative.
The Lean Startup: that any project can be started without the need for money and that there are ways to demonstrate the need for your project that do not require cash.
These are best summed up by the following:
Start with why? by Simon Sinek
Design thinking by David Kelley
The Lean Startup by Eric Rees
I started my first business in 2007. I used artist and musicians to teach refugee children from African countries creative skills. It helped the refugees integrate and the artists sustain their practice. Sounds perfect right? Wrong. We ran out of money, quickly. The business ended. I knew why I was doing it but I was not able to explain this to our funders. I have since learned that a good business strategy needs to consider all stakeholders and be clear where value is delivered.
Five ventures and countless jobs down the line, I have learned the importance of human-centric thinking. That, whilst it is important to know what you care about, you need to think about the incentives of others.
I have worked with the smallest of startups and the largest of capital starved businesses. This has taught me lean ways to evidence traction for a product. Whilst access to money helps, it is never essential and can sometimes have the opposite effect.