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Disciplined Entrepreneurship: Who’s Got It?

Bill Aulet, MIT Entrepreneurship Director, sat down with Silicon Luxembourg to discuss his Masterclass in Luxembourg and what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur.
(Featured Image: Bill Aulet, MIT Entrepreneurship Director / Image Credit © Silicon Luxembourg / Anna Katina)
How do you like Luxembourg?

I’ve only been here a couple of days, but the greatest thing about Luxembourg is that it’s a place where people come together, much like global capitals such as London, San Fran, Berlin, Paris and Rio De Janeiro. An atmosphere where people from different backgrounds come together is a perfect ingredient for entrepreneurship. Luxembourg’s got it.

You did a Masterclass here in Luxembourg. Can you tell us more about that?

Of course. It was a masterclass on entrepreneurship based on my book Disciplined Entrepreneurship. Man was it an international crowd. In fact, I’ve done a lot of these, but Luxembourg was special. The people in the class were all very serious; but at the same time, they didn’t take themselves too seriously. Heterogeneity is a huge asset when we talk about entrepreneurship. The multicultural group we had brought us a very good vibe. The people in the room sincerely wanted to help each other.

“At the end of the day, there’s no algorithm for victory in entrepreneurship, but there are principles that increase your odds of success.”

What have you learned from speaking in so many different countries?

I’ve been to Vietnam, China, Spain, Russia, and lots of other places. And you know what? It’s counterintuitive, but there’s always the same entrepreneurial community. Granted, I’m a bit biased because when I come in, participants have read my book so we’re ready to get going on the same page.

But there’s a commonality—a global entrepreneurship community. This community reads the same stuff, asks the same great questions, and is looking to face the same entrepreneurial challenges.

Thomas Friedman wrote, “the world is flat.” For me, the world is getting flatter and flatter every day. And that’s a good thing.

Your book is about Disciplined Entrepreneurship, and it speaks to entrepreneurship in all industries, not just tech. What are the fundamentals, if you can summarize?

The tagline is “You have to have the spirit of a pirate and the execution skills of a Navy Seal to be a successful entrepreneur.” You can understand the tone of the book with this sentence. I only realized what true discipline is when I started my own company. Discipline is focusing on the mission. It’s spending time only on tasks that support the ultimate mission you have. The entrepreneur’s general mission goes something like, “I will build a product that the customer will buy—a product they’ll pay me for and then buy more.” Discipline Entrepreneurship emphasizes this form of discipline and provides solutions for all the mistakes I have made over 25 years. It’s an entrepreneurial toolbox—a guideline to help you do the right things at the right time.

For example, some of the questions that you can make some significant mistakes trying to answer are:

  1. Who is your customer?
  2. What can you do for your customer?
  3. How do reduce market risk?
  4. How do you come up with lifetime value?
  5. How do you determine cost of customer acquisition?

It’s tough to answer these questions! Disciplined Entrepreneurship shows you how.

All of the information on how to hone the craft of entrepreneurship is already out there. But we break it down and give it to you in a consumable way. At the end of the day, there’s no algorithm for victory in entrepreneurship, but there are principles that increase your odds of success. This book gives you those principles.

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