To test whether there was an appetite for this notion, the students decided on an experiment. They convinced a shop on campus to place a 50% reduction sticker (dubbed “Second-Day Sushi”) on a sample of sushi (which was, in fact, perfectly within date).
Guess what? Hardly anyone bought the allegedly day-old sushi and the students quickly realised their idea wasn't viable. Evidence matters, especially when quickly and easily obtained!
London Business School had the experience to support entrepreneurs with the challenges we know they are going to face. First off, it's pretty clear they are going to have difficulties managing cash, attracting or retaining talent and identifying their target markets.
As a tutor, I often chuckle at the outcomes of our entrepreneurship summer school. On the first day of the programme, all the participants have the opportunity to present a new business venture they believe is feasible.
At the end of the programme, the students pitch again as to whether their original idea was feasible. By this stage, approximately half of those on the course say: "thank goodness I've gone through this exercise because I sure don't want to do that."
Another question we often hear relates to opportunities in emerging markets. Is it possible to become an entrepreneur in Argentina, Cuba or Bangladesh? And, if an idea is really meaningful there, is it possible to get it to scale?
The answer is a resounding yes and there are enormous opportunities in these markets. Why wouldn't it be possible to start and grow a business from one of these locations? Procter & Gamble’s main global supplier of toothpaste tubes is, in fact, an Indian company.
One Argentine software entrepreneur proves you can become a world leader regardless of your location. By identifying a compelling problem that cable TV operators had in provisioning their services, and providing an even more compelling solution, his company is now one of the major players in its niche sector. His clients now include some of the largest cable operators from all over the world.
Another key to becoming a successful entrepreneur is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are thinking of starting their own businesses. Perhaps, you could take a shared office space and immerse yourself in the entrepreneurial culture.
These days, success in the world of tech start-ups is driven by speed and execution, rather than geography. If you serve your customers well, you prosper. And, don’t forget, the internet has a global reach, which means entrepreneurs can harness the benefits of technology wherever they are in the world.
When should I start?
Should entrepreneurs avoid starting a business during recession? Not necessarily. If your key concept is sufficiently innovative, economic downturns can provide opportunities to flourish.
For proof, we have only to look at two entrepreneurs named Hewlett and Packard who started their business from a tiny garage in Palo Alto, California during the depths of a recession.
In fact, there are a number of advantages to launching a business during a recession. First, resources such as rent and talent are available more cheaply, which can provide a massive boost during the fledging stages of a business when cashflow may provide a challenge for the organisation's founders.
Second, many larger companies automatically regard a recession as a period of retrenchment and cut budgets or shy away from innovations that could upset the status quo.
On the other hand, there is a case for launching a start-up amid boom times in the economy. During red-hot economy periods, people have money to spend and this can make it easier to gain customer traction.
If your idea is strong enough, you shouldn't worry about the economic cycle, but focus on getting your solution to market.
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