Two days with the Don of Doing Entrepreneurship – the Disciplined way

by Stephanie Terreni Brown, Clean Water Wave

Bill Aulet workshop_4 Oct 2018

Last week, our Unlocking Ambition cohort spent two days with Bill Aulet, the Managing Director of MIT’s Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship and an all-round Don of business. Bill came over from Massachusetts to run his ‘Disciplined Entrepreneurship’ workshop with us in Inverness. It’s a methodology that he’s distilled after many years starting, running, and selling businesses as well as teaching his students how be entrepreneurs.

So what is ‘Disciplined Entrepreneurship’?

Disciplined Entrepreneurship is Bill’s roadmap to business success: it’s a set of 24 connected components that can guide anyone to develop not only a solid business plan but an ambitious, high growth company that is built on solid foundations.

Bill is a true believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur, that entrepreneurial ambition can be taught, and that incredibly successful businesses aren’t just built on great ideas or technologies – it’s the application, research, execution, and team that contribute to making a business fly.

Bill – in his inimitable, effervescent style – took us through the 24 steps over his two days with us... and it was a whirlwind of information, awesome ideas, and pitfalls to avoid. He had great examples that got us all talking (brand new Lamborghini dealership hasn’t yet sold it’s first car and a Volvo-owning friend needs a service and will pay you good money.... do you take it?! Answer: NO! Taking the Volvo cash might give you some straight up Dollar but undermines your entire business and brand proposition!)

Why is it Disciplined?

The ‘Disciplined’ bit is really what it means, bringing methodical thinking and analysis to your business. The 24 steps help to make the process of building an innovative, successful business easier to distil and to follow, and he’s a keen proponent of bringing mathematical analysis to the fore.

For example, working out how much a customer’s business could be worth to you over a lifetime (Lifetime Value) and benchmarking that against how much it costs to find or acquire that customer’s business in the first place (Cost Of Customer Acquisition).

What does it mean for us, the Unlocking Ambition cohort?

For me, there were three key learning points:

  • Practical analysis: As ambitious start-ups, the workshop was invaluable in helping to bring practical analysis to our everyday business. Running your own start-up usually means you are reeealllllyyyy busy, all the time, doing everything, so there’s a chance research and evaluation of, for example, exactly who your customer is and what they want might be missed. Bill’s brings rigour front-and-foremost of entrepreneurship and he has demonstrative ways of achieving it.
  • Data is critical: if you can do your research, understand your full costings, and how and why your customers respond to your products and brand, you can use that data to be far more effective and drive sales through the roof. Amassing the data is useful, but having someone or tools to apply it is imperative.
  • Ambition: Bill works in MIT, one of the world’s best universities and renowned for its culture of entrepreneurial success. He wants to bring that mentality – and thoroughness – to all the businesses he works with, whether in Massachusetts or Moray. He stated that Scotland has a history of ideas but not of Innovation Driven Enterprises (IDEs), and as a result many good businesses don’t scale beyond the local.

We’ve now all got a lot of homework to do, and for the first time ever I’m actually excited to do something cool with some spreadsheets. I know this will help me build solid foundations for Clean Water Wave and will enable me to realise our ambitions for global presence.

Bill wants all of the Unlocking Ambition to build IDEs...these change economies. And it’s our task to do that for Scotland!

Dr Stephanie Terreni Brown

Managing Director, Clean Water Wave

12 October 2018