“If someone were to tell you that you don’t have what it takes to become an entrepreneur, don’t believe him.” Bill Aulet, Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and host of the third Innovation Talk of the Spring Edition 2019, is in fact convinced that anyone can become an entrepreneur. To the point to create a 24-steps method, contained in the international bestseller Disciplined Entrepreneurship, capable of transforming an idea into a successful enterprise.
“At a certain point in history, everyone in Italy was an entrepreneur. And if we go today to Lagos, in Nigeria, or in Vietnam, we can see that even there they are all entrepreneurs. I guarantee you that if you need to work on your own, you will find a way to do it right,” said Bill Aulet in front of the BBS Community. The idea that entrepreneurship can be taught, however surprising, is supported by the results of the MIT and the startups that pass each year through one of the largest centers for education and research in the world.
“Today’s world needs entrepreneurs, they are the ones who create new jobs,” continued Bill Aulet. In fact, in mature economies such as Europe and North America, it is precisely the development of new businesses that drives employment and GDP growth. According to a research of the Kaufman Foundation, in the United States as much as 90% of new jobs are created each year by companies with less than 5 years of life and 40% of GDP has been generated by companies born in the last 30 years.
Meanwhile, the awareness about the importance of new businesses for the economic system and its future development is maturing even in Italy. Although our country still lags far behind the most advanced European countries, there is certainly a greater political and cultural attention that has led, in recent years, to the creation of startups, incubators and venture capital funds. Only last year, investments in hi-tech startups have increased by 100%, with a positive trend that has given an important boost to the entire ecosystem.
According to Aulet, entrepreneurs are those who can change economies and solve some major societal issues such as the one regarding environment, health and education. But innovation alone is not enough. “People often confuse innovation with invention. An invention is something new, a technology, an idea, which needs to create value through marketing to become innovation.” The entrepreneur is therefore the one who solves a problem by creating something new, which at the same time captures enough value to be economically sustainable.
“It goes without saying that to improve in basketball, you have to train. Similarly, it is necessary to train to become good entrepreneurs,” continued Aulet, listing the main misconceptions that keep most people from developing a business idea. “What entrepreneurship is not about? Individuality, overachievers, innate talent, love for risk, charisma, luck, undisciplined creativity. Entrepreneurs are not born, they are made.”
If entrepreneurship is not an exact science, is it an art? According to Aulet, it is a reality closer to craftsmanship, where it is possible to learn techniques and tools, but the end result depends on the individuals and on the amount of practice invested in improving their skills. But what are the characteristics that transform a person into a great entrepreneur? “The spirit, the skills, the abilities and the community with which you share your project, make all the difference. We must desire to be different from the mass. Pirates, but with the preparation of a Navy SEAL.”
“The world needs more and better entrepreneurs,” concluded Bill Aulet. It is the intelligent and flexible action of those who test their ideas and products to change the world. In short, being an entrepreneur means being an actor of change and not just a spectator.