Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Book Review: Bill Aulet: Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to a Successful Startup

Like many people, I have dreamed about being an entrepreneur and having my own business venture. But when I really think about the concrete steps of starting a business, it is a headache: what kind of products or services do I want to provide? How do I target my potential clients? What are the marketing channels that I should focus on? How do I do the pricing? All those question marks in my head just led to cold feet.

There are indeed a lot of entrepreneurship-related online courses available, but most are either long or focus on a particular aspect of entrepreneurship. If you are, like me, looking for entrepreneurship 101, a comprehensive preview of all kinds of questions you need to think about in different stages of an enterprise, and a roadmap of how to start your own business, Disciplined Entrepreneurship: 24 Steps to A Successful Startup, by Bill Aulet, might be just what you are looking for!

Bill Aulet. is a well-known scholar in entrepreneurship at MIT. He is the Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship and Professor of the Practice at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Many years of research and teaching experience have not made Bill theoretical; instead, he seems very down-to-earth, and this book is very practical. It has classic entrepreneurship theories but also concise and great examples, combined with interesting graphic illustrations throughout the book.

This book focuses on one of the two entrepreneurship models, Innovation-Driven Enterprise (IDE) Entrepreneurship, and the 24 steps are categorized into six categories:

1. Who is your customer?

2. What can you do for your customer?

3. How does your customer acquire your product?

4. How do you make money off your product?

5. How do you design & build your product?

6. How do you scale your business?

There are some topics that almost everyone interested in entrepreneurship is familiar with, like market segmentation, end-user profile, and competitive position. However, there are also topics that you may not have heard of before (at least I have never heard about before), like pricing framework, Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA), and Minimum Viable Business Product (MVBP). But do not worry about these intimidating-sounding new terms; this book provides excellent examples illustrating those ideas in plain English and how they work in entrepreneurship.

I used to think that an inspiring leader, a genius scientist, and a successful entrepreneur cannot be taught, and you can only be born as one because it should be intuitive and natural. I am unsure if I am right about the first two, but now I know I am partially wrong about the last one: some things may not be taught, like passion and spirit, but practical skill is not one of them. As one of the recommenders of this book says: “Entrepreneurship is not only a mindset but a skill set. The 24-Steps present a practical step-by-step process to channel the creative spirits to maximize the chances of success and ultimate impact.” I hope you enjoy this book as I did.

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