There is no one way to be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is difficult enough, but that difficulty is compounded when founders do not understand the different paths and align themselves with a path not suited to them. There are a number of models that describe the many paths of entrepreneurship. A few examples: Steve Blank's 6 Types (WSJ article) - Lifestyle, Small Business, Scalable, Buyable, Social and Large Company. Acton MBA's 3-type model (their website) - Bootstrap Tortoises, Asset Foxes and MBA Hares. Mine, also a 3-part (slideshare.net/bijoyg - What is Bootstrap) - Craft, Funding-Driven and Bootstrap.
All these models reflect the preferences and biases of the model maker and all are useful. Steve's is focused primarily on the intended outcome for the business. Acton's focuses on the role of capital. And mine focuses on the business model itself: Craft copies proven business models, while Bootstrap and Funding-driven create new business models. The funding-driven path constrains time and unconstrains resources, while the bootstrap path does the opposite.
Use any of these models to align yourself and your team. The dialogue will help you clarify your own motivations and avoid unnecessary collisions within the founding team. There is no ideal path and every path has tradeoffs. The most important test is to find the path that best suits you.
Beyond, or perhaps through these paths articulated by others lies the discovery of a totally unique path that fits only you. I call this Journey Entrepreneurship and someone who is journeying is on the quest to create their unique way. The JOurneY Model describes this process of evolution and is explained at: bejoying.com
The option to choose a college major and a career path in entrepreneurship is a relatively new phenomenon. Today, there are many elective courses and majors based on entrepreneurship.
But, only seven short years ago, when I was in college, entrepreneurship was just something that happened, or that you stumbled onto, or – if you were lucky – was covered as a topic or chapter in one of your textbooks on marketing or management.
The point being that, to pursue a career as an entrepreneur, you were either naturally good at it or you gained the necessary skills on your own, outside of class.
Fortunately, it is now a path of study that you can choose, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including pursuing a Ph.D. in entrepreneurship and engaging in serious academic research in the area. There is also an abundance of masters and mentors that teach by sharing their battle stories.
To this end, there are many online, academic resources that one can draw upon, including:
1. The Khan Academy’s (via the Kauffman Foundation): Interviews with Entrepreneurs - https://www.khanacademy.org/economics-finance-domain/entrepreneurship2
2. Coursera (via the University of Southern California-Irvine): Essentials of Entrepreneurship - https://www.coursera.org/learn/entrepreneurial-thinking/outline
3. Ed/X: Entrepreneurship 101, Who Is Your Customer - https://www.edx.org/course/entrepreneurship-101-who-customer-mitx-15-390-1x-0
I would encourage any young entrepreneur or older professional making a mid-career pivot to supplement their real world experience of “doing” with the rich breadth and depth of information available online to sharpen their knowledge of entrepreneurship tools, techniques, and tactics.
I was increasingly frustrated with the slow and bureaucratic way of doing business at the large pharmaceutical company where I was employed so when given the opportunity to cash out my options I took it. Right about the same time my mother, who lived out in the country, was dealing with chronic disease and severe pain so I was worried about her and her access to healthcare. The last piece to fall into place was finding a women-centric entrepreneur accelerator right in my city. The accelerator was sponsored by a local university which had a program that trained experienced businesswomen to become entrepreneurs and create startup companies. The instructors aka Entrepreneurs-In-Residence (EIRs) devoted their time and resources to helping us learn, grow and network. A year after all that, I'm an entrepreneur! My company is making an impact in healthcare and I just received a patent on my blood sampling device.