3M has a really cool program to promote innovation within the company. They pay their employees to dedicate 15% of their work time to innovation. It was actually through this program that post-its were invented.
We have discussed various qualities that are required to become a successful entrepreneur such as innovation, dedication, and sometimes creativity. Richard Branson says, “[The idea] should be a company that you can believe in, heart, soul and wallet. Are you enthusiastic about how this business will make a difference in people’s lives? This is crucial, because if you love your work, you are far more likely to persevere despite the long hours and struggles that are an inevitable part of an entrepreneur’s life – and your successes and celebrations will be all the sweeter.” It is no surprise then that lawyers are thought of as “wet blankets” to the budding, ambitious, passionate entrepreneur, and less a surprise that they would rather avoid contact with lawyers until they are needed to untangle some mess in which they find themselves. For those lawyers who see themselves working for entrepreneurs or start-ups, it seems necessary to adopt a similar passion or at least remember that this is their lives, or their dreams, and that may drive the lawyer to be more creative in the way they advise their clients. To quote Tim Gunn of Project Runway: “Make it work!”
The ABA journal posted an interesting article about how some law schools are creating incubators for recent graduates. The programs provide new attorneys with cheap rent, mentors and networking opportunities to help get their solo practices off the ground.
Another example of technology revolutionizing the practice of law. Page Vault allows lawyers to securely capture, document and preserve content online in a way that makes it admissible in court.
I thought this article tied in with our discussion on effectual or entrepreneurial thinking. When we think of companies that have disrupted industries (i.e., Netflix, Uber, Airbnb), it would seem that those entrepreneurs looked at what they knew about the industry, who they are, and who they know, and exploited inefficiencies and dissatisfaction from consumer feedback. The article lays out a framework of thinking for those looking to disrupt an industry which parallels well with our effectual thinking discussion.
- Identify the problem or problems in your industry.
- Work together with others in your industry to solve the problem(s).
- Uncover new ways to approach your already-existing customers.
- Add new customers into your mix of existing ones.
- Discover what else your product can be used for.
This article highlights the benefits of getting a lawyer involved in your startup as early as possible. Securing a lawyer up front to structure your business entity and to handle other preliminary matters, which usually costs between $1,500 and $2,500, is highly advisable. Overall, the article is a nice summary of some of the value a lawyer can bring to a startup. As the article notes, many entrepreneurs make the mistake of relying on lawyers only when things go wrong (after the fact). This leads to high legal costs, feeding into the negative view many entrepreneurs have of lawyers more generally. If more entrepreneurs were to take the advice of this article, they may be more inclined to see lawyers as helpers, essential to their business.
While not exactly inline with this week’s reading, I thought this article was interesting read based on our earlier discussion of commercial v. private flying. Specifically, this article addresses the way the private jet industry is adapting to a different market, taking advantage of smartphone technology to reach a broader base of clientele at more “affordable” prices.
I’ve met Arthur Brooks, and really admire his work. But I think our friend David Pozen would have a field day with this one!
I brought up the project Skolkvo in the presentation on Tuesday as an example of how Russia is attempting to foster entrepreneurship by creating their own Silicon Valley . Here’s a few articles on the project for those who might be interested.
This is a much longer piece by USAID that examines land ownership issues in Ethiopia. I am posting it in case anyone is interested.