Question from a reader --
I'm a college student majoring in electrical engineering. I only have a little background on entrepreneurship but I always want to be an entrepreneur. How should I begin to learn about entrepreneurship? Which books should I read first? I live in Vietnam, would this make much difference?
Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Hey V, Vietnam is a great place to be right now. I spent six months there a couple years ago, and the country is growing like crazy. You can look at what infrastructure, businesses, and services exist everywhere that aren't in Vietnam, and emulate one of those at some point. The people that made the "24" chain of convenience stores are doing really well, but they're not doing anything crazy -- just standard convenience store business model.
But ok, you're just getting started? I'd recommend you focus on selling something -- anything. With an engineering background, you've already got a mind for logical thinking and systems. Now you'll want to think about distribution and how to get things out there.
I'd worry less about making a large profit, and more about the experience of (1) understanding people's needs and personalities, (2) learning a way to connect with them, and (3) getting them to choose to use your product or service.
You'll probably want to price your first offering way below the market... you don't need to make a huge profit, even doing a first version for free can make sense if it's service-based. I know a lot of people who started by breaking even or losing money, but they got those initial client relationships and proved out their concept.
After you have someone choose you, give them really really great service, and afterwards make 100% sure you ask for a testimonial and for them to refer you to other people who would want your services -- those are the big ones. The testimonials, and permission to use their name and contact info along with it is huge if you're relatively new in a market.
But yeah, new entrepreneur? Market and sell something, anything. The product is less important for now than learning how to understand people's needs, connect with them, and why they'd buy. Good luck, and yeah, being in Vietnam is a huge advantage and offers many possibilities for replicating something that's been very successful already in other countries, so keep your eyes open for that.
I recommend the book featured at http://100startup.com. I'm reading it now... It's the collected stories of people who started something really small and turned it into a micro-business that now supports their lifestyle. Great little read, available on Kindle too.
In my opinion, one of the worst and most destructive trends in Western society is that entrepreneurship has become a lionized mysterious pursuit.
There's nothing magical about it. You get some inputs (your time, knowledge, resources, goods, whatever), you add some value to it by improving or rearranging the inputs, and you sell them for more than it cost you to get them. Profit.
"Oh, but it's so hard! And I have no money! What will I do?"
Okay. Here's a can of Club Soda (actually, two cans of club soda, to be precise):
Daniel Odio gives tips and tricks for entrepreneurs!
Click to listen to "Episode 65: Interview Part 1" and click to listen to "Episode 66: Interview Part 2"
Jim Hopkinson, Wired.com's Marketing Guy and creator ofThe Hopkinson Report, recently interviewed me for his Hopkinson Report podcast. Here's a Tweet of Jim's about the Podcast, and another one about my social media hardware bag and another on my blog posting about how to hire people effectively.
Here is a transcript of the Podcasts