When entrepreneurs like Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder and Chairman of Linkedin, shares business tips, we should all sit up and listen hard. Beyond his accomplishments as a business owner, Hoffman is also an angel investor and adviser to organizations like Facebook, Flickr and more. During a recent talk at South by Southwest, he shared the following rules for building big businesses…
Four Entrepreneurship Rules for Building Big Businesses:
Rule #1: Look for disruptive change.
If you’re about to start on a new venture, ask yourself: What is becoming possible or necessary that wasn’t possible before? Is a new product or service able to take over an existing market or create a new market? When I co-founded LinkedIn the tech industry was in a deep depression. I looked at all the opportunities created by the Internet and had the idea that eventually everyone would need a professional profile online. The disruption was that people were able to directly reach the best candidates rather than hoping for responses from a listing in the paper or an ad on a Web site.
Rule #2: Build a network to magnify your company.
People tend to think that behind every great start-up is a single entrepreneur with a whiz-bang idea. The reality is great companies are built by a number of people with talent who are surrounded by amplifying networks. The most successful entrepreneurs bring in advisors, investors, collaborators and early customer relationships.
Rule #3: Having a great product is important but having great product distribution is more important.
I meet a lot of entrepreneurs who think the best product is the most important thing and that the best product should always win. What a lot of people fail to realize is that without great distribution, the product dies. How will you get your product in the hands of millions or hundreds of millions of people?
Rule #4: Aspire, but don’t drink your own Kool-Aid.
Target excellence, but be very careful about blind trust or belief in your theories. It is important to launch as early as you can in order to learn how your customers use your product or service. It is equally important to identify metrics that tell you if your aspirations and vision are on target. You should also get feedback from your network in order to iterate or pivot on the target, the product and/or the service. In other words, maintain your aspiration but always look for good perspective on how you are doing. It is very easy for creative innovators to get caught up in their own story rather than learning where they should be headed.
Read all 10 entrepreneurship rules from Reid Hoffman, here on All Things Digital.