To celebrate entrepreneurship week, the Hult Founders Lab (HFL) was honored to have a panel on the Future of Entrepreneurship with three wonderful guests; Dhiraj Mukherjee, the co-founder of Shazam, Andy Jefferies, the co-founder of Dock & Bay which featured on an episode of Dragons’ Den, and Dr. David James, one of our wonderful professors who has taken an active role in promoting entrepreneurship on our campus. Those in attendance were blessed with great information that we didn’t think should be confined to just this talk, so we decided to summarize some of the key points for you here in hopes that if you were unable to make it, you can still learn from their wisdom.
- Develop your Product Globally
With today’s advancements in technology and shipping, the world is smaller than ever! If your company sells a product in one country, then chances are high that you could be selling to so many different markets at the same time. Andy Jefferies said that Dock & Bay is looking to be in the Australian Amazon market as soon as possible so that they can get an advantage over their competitors, even though they are based out of the UK. If you haven’t asked yourself why your company isn’t selling worldwide, then you could be losing valuable sales every day for no reason.
- Don’t Wait for the Future to Come to You
When asked about Brexit, all three panelists agreed on two things; first, that they didn’t know what Brexit would look like exactly, and secondly, that the most important thing was to keep working. Entrepreneurs act instead of sitting around and talking with no end. There are endless arguments that could be made about Brexit and the effect that it will have on businesses in the UK and around the world, but talking about it isn’t going to change anything. Unless you have the power to change something, the entrepreneur’s role is to make sure that he/she continues to move forward with their idea through the uncertainty that they have no control over. David James says, “Starting a business is hard enough without the distractions of things outside of your control. For example, major political and economic events like ‘Brexit’ are tempting issues for you to get involved with the form of debating, sharing thoughts on social media and worrying. For an entrepreneur, I think these are saps of your energy and easy diversionary events to give you an excuse for not actually executing on your ideas. Stop the intellectual foreplay and get on with starting-up!” Strong words of encouragement to let go and get going!
- Embrace the Unknown
One of the biggest reasons why potential entrepreneurs fail to move forward with their idea is because they fear the unknown. Whether it be the unknown of success or failure, or not having the know-how of certain technical skills, the unknown is a scary idea for a lot of people. You will never know everything there is to know about how your idea will pan out and so the first step is to move forward with what you do know. While all three panelists agreed that dealing with the unknown is a necessary skill for entrepreneurs to develop, they offered very different ways of coping with it. Dhiraj gave the story of the founders of Shazam, three MBA students, having a great idea, but no idea how to develop the software it took to make it a possibility. Instead of giving up, they decided to find the best audio technician around and hire him into the company to help them make the software that was just bought by Apple for an estimated $400 million. Andy, on the other hand, talked about the practice of learning along the way. He has learned so much in the past year that he would have never learned if he hadn’t started acting first. Andy could have spent the beginning stages of his company on learning all the potential skills he might need and wasted valuable time, or he could have started with what he knew and built from there, learning along the way. The great thing about this advice is that neither of these tactics for tackling the unknown is one size fits all and both Dhiraj and Andy have used both.
- Learn how to handle failure
When asked about failure Dhiraj, Andy and David all agreed that good entrepreneurs know how to fail well. Every time you start something new and try to innovate a specific industry, you will make mistakes and there will be ideas that end up failing. The question then becomes, not how to avoid failure at all costs, but what your attitude will be when you do fail. Entrepreneurs of the future need to accept failure as a process of refining their ideas and visions and look to it as a teacher. Once the entrepreneur learns to keep getting up after getting knocked down, the possibilities for success are limitless.
We hope that this summary was useful to you and your journey to creating something incredible! Let us know your thoughts in the comments and we can’t wait to see you at the next Hult Founders Lab event!