Mom and Pop Startups

The ambitions may have changed but reality hasn’t.

More first-time entrepreneurs have grander plans than those of the past. Gone is the desire to simply create a job for themselves or a small business that employs a few people. Today’s first-timers believe they can build the next Facebook, Starbucks, or Subway, and that’s good. Entrepreneurs need vision, ambition, and BHAGs. There’s nothing we can do – or should do – to temper their energy and enthusiasm. Continue reading

The Co of Co-Working

I often work from a co-working space, know several people who have started, run and invested in them, and know even more who work at them.

From what I’ve seen, heard, read, and experienced, co-working is here to stay. It’s become the new way of officing for mobile and traveling professionals, sole practitioners, and startup founders. Even big companies are retrofitting their facilities to mimic co-working spaces, or even creating them for their own employees. Continue reading

The Unsung Heroes of Entrepreneurship

There’s a group of people who rarely get noticed.

They don’t get recognition from customers and employees, investors don’t include them in due diligence, and the community doesn’t ask about them. They put up with long hours, crazy ideas, and mood swings.  They tolerate our visions of doing big things and our obsession with seemingly ridiculous details.  Continue reading

Lean Startups and Passion

It used to be that an entrepreneur came up with an idea that he was passionate about, turned it into a product or service, then went out and tried to sell it. Over time, he would learn whether or not customers would buy it, but the passion kept him going through the ups and downs, twists and turns. To make the business take off required a great deal of creativity, ingenuity, and luck, which helped explain why so many of us used to call entrepreneurship a work of art. Continue reading

Working On the Business, Working On the Mind

To participate in The Junto Institute’s curriculum, our founders “go” to class, “go” to the leadership forums, and “go” to office hours. All are held at our host partner’s sites, Catapult Chicago and Foley & Lardner.

For the rest of the curriculum – the mentoring program – meetings are scheduled mostly at the startups’ offices. So while they don’t “go” anywhere literally, they spend time thinking and talking about the business with their mentors every few weeks. Continue reading

The Flipped Entrepreneurship Teacher

Let’s “teach” entrepreneurship the way it’s actually done in the real world.

Let’s use self-directed learning, where students have to figure out what to do next rather than giving them a syllabus, assigning them homework, and telling them what to read.

Let’s use trade books and blogs written by entrepreneurs who share personal startup experiences rather than textbooks that propose academic concepts and theories backed up by third-person examples. Continue reading

(Re)Inventing Adult Education

When it comes to education and its reform, adult learning has been – and remains – overlooked. Unlike primary and secondary education, adult ed lacks a designed process, defined structure, and dedicated institutions.

As adults, the only thing we know is why we should learn. We have to figure out on our own what to learn, how to learn, when to learn, and from whom.  As admirable as that may sound, it’s not the most efficient use of our precious time. Adult ed is a highly fragmented and self-directed pursuit and that needs to change.  It can and should have a designed process. Continue reading