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New Entrepreneurs Want To Know

New Entrepreneurs Want To Know

New entrepreneurs want to know about all sorts of things, but most of all they want to know how they are going to make money. 

To make money, they need to be clear about their business model. And that is tricky, so they seek help. A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value

Some of the best help is available free. The Business Model Canvas, from Alex Osterwalder’s book Business Model Generation is a tool I use with both my startup clients and my entrepreneurship students.

The Business Model Canvas is a great tool, but how you use it will determine how productive it will be. It’s best that you do it with your team and do it more than once, as yu refine your business model.

Global Startup Survey 2013

The Global Startup Survey 2013 was undertaken by The Startup Rocketstar Love and was based on interviews with 454 entrepreneurs worldwide. Naturally enough  well over half those surveyed seek help with how they are going to make money. Of course that takes you into realms of market definition, pricing, marketing. 

Questions about revenue generation are directly connected with all the other things entrepreneurs said they wanted to know about. Like strategy and how to acquire customers. The fundamentals are what the startup needs to focus on at the outset. There is no better way to test your own ideas than to develop a business plan.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs think that the business plan is the tool by which they’ll get investment. But in my opinion the most important purpose of the business plan to is to get strategy straight and to be sure that all the bases have been covered.  On the basis that there’s no business without sales and revenue, the business model is what comes first. It is almost impossible to write a business plan without a clear business model.

Startup Mentors

But with all these questions that try the most determined entrepreneur, the answers always lead to more questions… and doubt. Most entrepreneurs with whom I have worked seek guidance from outside their immediate sphere of friends or other team members. With no performance data to guide them, what they want is validation of their thinking or the ability to change course based on expertise which they lack.

Typically the startup mentor should be strong in areas where the entrepreneur has gaps in knowledge or experience. The mentor, though, is more than a knowledge bank. The useful mentor’s will have the ability to appreciate your values and purpose and then the ability to see them in the business context in which the startup operates. It is not about deciding what is right or wrong, but rather to be clear enough a sounding board for the menthe to decide for herself.

Before any real work can get done, there has to be a build up of mutual trust and respect. Easy to say and elusive to find. Both sides are going to need to let their vulnerability show. Unlike a coach, who is more of a teacher, the mentor is probably going to be more effective by asking (albeit pointed) questions. They are quite likely to be good storytellers, able to show by analogy where they have gone wrong, not claiming how they did it right.

Where to Find a Good Mentor

There are many ways to find a good mentor. here are just a few of them:

  • consider former colleagues or fellow students whose opinions you have valued;
  • ask other entrepreneurs, who may be further down the track than you;
  • make contact with teachers on local MBA programs (as an MBA teacher, I mentor former students quite a lot);
  • take a look on line at sites like the Founder Institute who have lists of mentors to browse;
  • define clearly what characteristics you seek and then go knock on doors–maybe a person who has succeeded in a parallel sector;
  • don’t be afraid to approach a person you much admire; you need to know that mentors will learn a lot from working with you;
  • ask me! I work with former students, people who have found me from writing or via LinkedIn, recommendations and all kinds of serendipitous links. Nothing is lost by asking – try me at









PLEASE NOTE: There is tons of useful stuff on Startup Owl, a site that’s been going for a dozen years. So keep browsing, but know that the founder, Will, now devotes most of his time and energy to his new website that you should definitely visit:

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