A student wrote to me: “I like your blog about startup and entrepreneur. I have many good ideas and have taken several startup courses. But I need your advice before starting my company. Please help.”

Answer: Startup is easy to say, but NOT easy to do. Anybody can have ideas, but to turn an idea into a startup is not simple. Every entrepreneur believes their idea is good; their solution is the best, or their product is perfect. Many are full of optimistic and hurry to start a company, and they often failed. Before starting a company, the idea must be validated first.

The first step of validation is to determine whether your idea can solve a problem that others cannot. It means you must understand the problem in detail before developing the solution. Without understanding it well, your solution may not be good enough. The second step is knowing how urgent is the problem; if it is not urgent, and nobody care about it, then there is no reason to work on it. Even if there is a need, you must investigate on how many people want to have the problem solved. In another word, how big is the potential market. If only a few people need your solution, then it may not be worth to start a company.

It takes time, money, and lot of efforts to start a company and the goal of a company is to be profitable. If you cannot make enough money, there is no reason to start a company. You need to have a lot of customers to justify starting a company; nobody wants to start a company to lose money. My advice: Do not hurry to start something that you may regret later. If your solution is good and there are a lot of customers, you need a strategy to prevent other from stealing your idea or developing a similar solution – You need to file a patent to protect you, your solution and your startup.

To be an entrepreneur, you must be willing to accept risks. Developing a startup is risky, and you need a strong passion and perseverance to build a company. Startup requires a lot of hard work that you do not even know exists, and there are obstacles along the way that you must overcome. It is your determination, your passion, and your commitment that will help you to be a good entrepreneur. A good idea is not enough; a good solution is also not enough, sometimes you fail, not one time but several times. But if you continue to learn from your mistakes and do not give up, you may do well.

I do not know how much you have learned from your startup courses, and I do not want to discourage you from pursuing your startup journey. My advice is you need to proceed carefully and validate your ideas until you can have a better understanding of its value in the market.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University
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