Professionals working for companies are nurtured to have strong technical know how. This means their technical skills are polished. Yet, as entrepreneurs the skills required are more general know how based. This means how to organise the business? How to build a client base? How to organise the market entry? How to recruit new talent? etc.
Over the years this observation was verified by senior industry professionals. For example, Tony Gimple. He was the co founder of the first UK Legal Services firm to owned and run by a non lawyer. He highlighted the skills nurtured in corporations were different to what entrepreneurs need. Entrepreneurs, he feels, need a broader skill set in his opinion. Another example, Gerry Creedon. He used to work for Lord Hamlyn for 18 years. In his experience employees are hired for their technical know how. This means that the professionals are trained to focus on the technical aspects of the job.
I also noticed this while I mentored post grad students and staff at King’s College, London, for 6 years. Similar concerns were also there among MBA Students at NYU Stern Business School. The doctors, lawyers, teachers, scientists I came across all have these concerns. They are highly trained professionals with deep technical know how. Their general know how skills simply have not been nurtured. Over time I customised mainstream tools to help them nurture this general know how mindset.
The concerns professionals have are focused around identifying and grading of risks. They are used to dealing with operational risks. As entrepreneurs they have to focus on executive and strategy level concerns as well. Part of the support they need is to understand what these concerns are and how they apply to their projects. This means stuff like what kind of uncertainty to expect. How to grade the risks accurately? Where to start the process? In my observation, the core concern is nurturing the mindset of an entrepreneur. Professionals have a tendency to fall back into their technical know how comfort zones. This can be a serious concern for the project /start up they are working on.
So when I was researching the second edition of MBA for Startups I decided to focus on this key concern. "How can professionals organise the first phase of their startups?". The intention has been to give them some clarity in terms what tools to use. Importantly, how to use them to lower the unnecessary high failure rates startups have. Traditionally, over 90% of funded startups fail in their first year. The expectation is by using these tools professionals can lower their failure rates.
We combined this visual story with three learning cycles. The first cycle exposes the reader to the content. The second cycle supports the reader interact with the content. This supports the reader understand the relevance of the content to their startup projects. The third and final cycle supports them in lowering the variation in their application. This generates awareness as well as lowering the knowing doing gap at the same time.
In contrast to the first edition MBA of Startups was designed to be workshop support material. In 2011, the key problem focused on was the management of the venture. It also targeted a broader audience i.e. any entrepreneur looking to set up a startup. The idea was to support the entrepreneur with separating management and operational needs. For instance, marketing management is more to do with relationship management. Marketing operations is to do with the 4 P’s. For example, Account management comes under marketing management. SEO marketing comes under marketing operations. By understanding the difference helps the entrepreneur lower their risk of failure. The second edition is taking a more segmented approach. The focus is professionals looking to become entrepreneurs.
It would be great to have your thoughts on our approach. Please leave your comments below.