Creating a Model for Successful Generation of New Ventures (Part Three)

(This is Part Three of my multi-part series on models for new venture generation. You can find Part One here and Part Two here.)

Where To Begin?

What should experienced founders do when begin to think about creating a new venture? It might surprise you to know that almost every part of this process is about learning.

Self-Awareness & Introspection

The decision to start a new venture has long-term repercussions for startup founders. This isn’t just a job. It is something you may be devoting the next 5, 10 or 15 years of your life to. Knowing how important this decision will be, experienced founders begin to think about who they are – who have been and who they hope to be in the future. This is a good time to learn more about yourself.

“Stop Breathing Your Own Exhaust”

Sure, you’re learning more about yourself. But that doesn’t mean you become “full of yourself.” As Jimmy Iovine so eloquently puts it, the experienced entrepreneurs who will succeed in their next ventures go to great lengths to stop “breathing their own exhaust.” This can be surprisingly difficult. If you’ve had any degree of prior success, you will be surrounded by people who think you’re the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. When you speak, they listen. Your every utterance is now “wisdom from on high.” When you need straight talk and an unbiased perspective, you don’t want to be surrounded by people content to bask in some messed up sense of your reflected “glory.” If those people become your new team, you’re in trouble.

Active Learning Mode

Your job, at this pre-venture stage, is to work diligently to secure new perspectives, new sources of input. You are actively looking for insight. You are looking in new places. You are exploring uncharted territory. And while you play close attention to discoveries and trends, you are deeply suspicious of fashion and fads.

You are reading. Constantly. Books, articles, manuals, posts — twitter feeds of the people who know what they are talking about. You are meeting and having numerous conversations with people of different backgrounds and perspectives. In short, you are doing some very serious homework.

And all of this learning has a point. You are searching for something worthy of your time, your talent, and your experience. Something that deserves to be called your “life’s work.”

You’ll notice I’ve said nothing about money. If you are mainly motivated by money, what I’ve written here is still important and probably still useful for you. But I haven’t written any of this for you.

A Trusted Team

If you’ve done this once or twice before, you probably already have longstanding relationships. People you trust. You will connect with them. You will share what you’ve learned and what you’re thinking. If you’re far enough along, you’ll even begin to share what you’re planning to do. Don’t be surprised if at first they don’t “get it.” The chances are good that even you don’t “get it,” yet. You’re still figuring out the pieces. And you’re still learning how to tell the story.

And as you begin to have these conversations with those you trust, you’ll also begin to look for the team you will need to make this new thing, this thing that was in your head and has now found its way to your heart, as real as dinner plate.

Trial Balloons

You’ve come this far. You’re excited about what you’ve been thinking about and working on. Those you’ve been speaking with are excited about it too. You have the start of a founding team and a strong understanding about the product or service you want to create.

It’s time to put your ideas to the test. What do you still need to learn? What can you build, make, show or deliver that will help you learn efficiently and at speed.

Delivering on the Promise

What can you do to demonstrate to yourself, your team, your partners and prospective investors that the opportunity you’ve been describing is even more real than they imagined? What can you do to deliver that opportunity? What is the “machine” that you are building to create real value for your customers? And what is the “moat” that could protect your “machine” from those who would seize this opportunity for themselves?

These are just a few thoughts about a process and model serial entrepreneurs can use for the successful generation of new ventures. I’m interested in your perspectives. Please add your comments.

From October 16–26, 2017, 10.10.10 will host its Cities program in Denver. This 10.10.10 Cities program will focus on “wicked problems” 2 key areas: water and infrastructure. If you’d like to be involved in some way, this is the place to sign up. We are particularly interested in participation by those in other cities who may wish to bring a 10.10.10 Cities program to their city in 2018 or 2019.

You should know that we invite just 10 prospective CEOs to participate in each program. (You’ll find our most recent cohort of prospective CEOs here.) If you are a successful serial entrepreneur and plan to start a new venture, you may request an invitation here by filling out the form. We also partner with Validators (organizations and institutions with deep domain knowledge) and Ninjas (individuals with the specific skills — finance, marketing, design, product management, data analysis, etc.) to support our prospective CEOs during the program.