Daena Giardella, MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer
From Forbes México
Companies helmed by or fronted by celebrities can have meteoric rises, but can also face dramatic and public setbacks. Recent news stories, for example, have highlighted both the stratospheric success of some celebrity companies and also a set of well-documented problems with some celebrity companies.
Celebrity companies are unique in many ways, but studying them can yield important insights into where everyday entrepreneurs should put their energy and emphasis. Read More
MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Bill Aulet
From The Strathclyde Business School Blog
In 2013, I wrote a light piece for Forbes about the “Six Whopping Lies Told About Entrepreneurs” but in hindsight I left out the biggest myth of all about entrepreneurship itself. The single most overrated, and yet common, belief about entrepreneurship is that the idea is paramount.
Yes, an idea is necessary, but it is so much less important than the discipline and process with which the idea is pursued. And, interestingly, all of these are even less important than the quality of the founding team.
The belief that the idea is important becomes invalidated when you work with successful entrepreneurs and begin to see a common pattern emerge: how an original idea morphs and evolves over time as the team does primary market research and starts to focus on customer needs, rather than their initial eureka moment. This observation is borne out in recent research by Professor Matt Marx of MIT, summarized in “Shooting for Startup Success? Take a Detour,” showing that for successful entrepreneurs, the idea they originally started out with is rarely the same as what they ended up succeeding with.
The idea of a better search engine wasn’t novel before Google got started; its value creation was all in the high-quality execution. Similarly, the concept of an electric car was not new when Elon Musk started Tesla, yet it has experienced unprecedented success while others before and since have failed. Likewise for the smartphone and Apple.
Image by Marius Ursache
Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Center
Organizations are dealing with higher levels of uncertainty and deeper complexity than we’ve ever seen before. Not surprisingly, this changeable landscape is causing employees to act cautiously in order to keep their jobs. (After all, who wants to “rock the boat” or be blamed for a failed project?) While this reactive behavior makes logical sense, it’s also creating a major roadblock on the journey to innovation.
Innovation begins with either a passion or a problem. Passion means you’re motivated to innovate because you care deeply about something. For example, thanks to watching Neil Armstrong land on the moon as a child, Richard Branson became very interested in space and realized that he wanted to go there like Armstrong did. For decades, he asked questions, kept notebooks of ideas, talked to different people and worked hard to figure out a way for his passion to become a reality. With a long-term commitment borne by the head and heart, it’s no wonder that the stars lined up for Branson to start Virgin Galactic, transforming his passionate idea into a tangible business.
MIT Sloan Executive Director of Executive Education Peter Hirst
Earlier this November, the British-American Business Council’s New England chapter (BABCNE) hosted an inspiring event in Boston that brought together nine high-ranking foreign diplomats, members of international business associations and business leaders to discuss how innovation can increase productivity and income opportunities through cross-border participation. The fact that the event was organized by Susie Kitchens, HM Consul General of the United Kingdom is no surprise.
National Mind Shift
The UK is mobilizing a strong and quite deliberate push for innovation-driven business development—domestically and globally. And nowhere is this more evident than in London. As a British “subject” (yes, that’s still the term!) who now calls the USA home, I am struck by a truly seismic cultural shift taking place in Britain—the nation’s stereotypical attitudes toward risk-taking and shunning conspicuous success are at long last changing, and quite visibly. Having lived and worked in London for several years, I may be partial to its continuing progress as a major center of cultural, academic and economic influence, but the changes I see during every visit are undeniable. Especially so in the last couple of years.
MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer Jim Dougherty
Most of the famous entrepreneurs we hear about are fairly young. We tend to read in the popular press about the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world and assume that all successful entrepreneurs launch businesses in their 20s. However, this couldn’t be further from reality.
Recent studies show that older entrepreneurs are increasing while the number of younger entrepreneurs is decreasing. According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, the share of entrepreneurs in the 55-64 age group jumped from 14.3 percent in 1996 to 23.4 percent in 2012. In contrast, the share of entrepreneurs in the youngest age group of 20-34-year-olds decreased from 34.8 percent in 1996 to 26.2 percent in 2012.