Most everything in business has a definitive rhythm. Every quarter is marked by various events of annual planning, budgeting, sales kickoffs, trade shows, and of course...summa' vacations, which no matter how carefully we plan around them, they always seem to impact our sales forecasts with delays.Nowhere is the rhythm of business more pronounced than in the business of education at all levels. Think about your own kids. Back-in-the-day when you and I were in high school, post Labor Day starts were the normal rhythm, while today, it's very common to have kids starting school the week after next. College students always hit campus the last week of August which, just as in the normal rhythm of things, always results in zero availability of U-Hauls and parking spaces.
For me, the rhythm of mid-August means the next two weeks are spent updating, rewriting and creating new content for my marketing course at Tufts and my business planning lectures at MIT. I'm also undertaking the launching of a semester-long workshop on what it takes to launch successful businesses from our engineering labs at Tufts. At Tufts, as in all Tier 1 research universities, we have incredible engineering depth from brilliant professors and researchers, some of whom want to understand the building blocks of what it takes to launch a successful startup. I know from my own experience this year of co-founding a new startup with a gifted Tufts professor, that there are fundamental principles of entrepreneurial success that we can bring together more completely with added impact and more efficiency. As a result, with the help of my fellow instructors, all of whom are entrepreneurs, we will begin what should be an exciting semester-long series of workshops on the basics and not-so-basic elements of what it takes.
So where to start?
Like many of you, I've read hundreds of books and thousands of articles over decades while attending countless workshops, events and speaker series on the broad subject of entrepreneurship. I've also taught a number of general entrepreneurship courses for students, but in this case of creating content that will be both meaningful and impactful in the shorter term of birthing an actual business, I began with asking myself the simple question of "Where to start?". Looking through my library of books, articles and thousands of business plans even going back to when I was chairman of the MIT Enterprise Forum, simply confused me even more as to where do I start in early September so that we end up with constructive results in December?
Focus is the answer!
If I've learned anything in my success and especially in my failures as an entrepreneur...and, by the way, as a salesguy, it has been to relentlessly focus on specifics to begin and then scale over time:
- Who are the 1 or 2 exact personas who will buy?
- What's the exact value for those personas?
- What are the specific first two industries?
- What's the 1st and 2nd geographies?
- What's the first sales channel we will use?
So, just as in any startup, I'll begin this process of architecting and building a foundation for teaching entrepreneurship with that same key word "focus" as my foundation and make sure that we're focused on the end result in December. Should be exciting!