Emory Business asked Senior Associate Dean and BBA Program Director Andrea Hershatter for her top advice for would-be entrepreneurs. Here is what she shared:
Potential business ideas are everywhere. Any process that is inefficient or not user-centric, any product that does not serve its purpose well, and any job that needs to be done that is not addressed by a market solution, presents opportunities for innovative solutions and successful venture launches
Start with a problem, not a solution
Too many aspiring entrepreneurs fall in love with and create a venture around an imagined solution. Great ventures are much more likely to emerge from exploring an unmet need and the many ways to address it. This allows for the assessment of multiple approaches to arrive at an optimal product-market fit.
Do your research
Research should be qualitative and quantitative and should include primary and secondary sources. There is no substitute for actually interviewing prospective end-users, potential competitors, and future customers. Databases are equally indispensable to calculate the size of addressable markets, estimate potential demand, or assess the competitive environment.
Research is the foundation of all credible projections.
Talk to everyone and learn to really listen
An idea cannot be protected by keeping it secret, and the odds are extremely high that others are working on similar ventures anyway. Entrepreneurs who actively seek and incorporate multiple perspectives and are genuinely receptive to critical analysis are able to build better offerings and foresee and plan for potential obstacles.
Conduct many small experiments
Conceptualizing, researching, and planning are all essential aspects of the process, but entrepreneurship is fundamentally about actually creating something. Build a prototype, test a beta, give out samples, set up a Kickstarter campaign, create a website, or media campaign, and measure the response. Then, analyze, iterate, and repeat until you have validated a viable concept. Every cycle improves your offering and gets you one step closer to launching.
BONUS TIP: Embrace the journey. Every failed venture is a stepping stone to building a successful one next time!
Are you a current student or alumnus with a brilliant idea for a new business? Are you an entrepreneur or investor who would like to get involved as a mentor? Dive into the interactive experiences, events, and resources of The Roberto C. Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
Register for the March 31-April 1 Emory Entrepreneurship Summit featuring keynote speaker Vivek Garipalli 00BBA, co-founder and CEO of Clover Health.