We spoke to Daniel Soriano, mentor accompanying youth in the creation of new businesses and startups. With him we found the keys to starting a business.
Starting a business, like any other profession, means being prepared and informed. In this interview we give the reigns to an entrepreneurship education specialist and startups mentor.
Daniel Soriano Hernández is the current director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and professor of Entrepreneurial Management at the IE Business School. IE Business School Corporate Learning Alliance. He takes part as a mentor and professor in corporate innovation projects in multinational companies at Finantial Times. He is also a member of an investment committee of a Venture Capital company that invest in startups at early stage.
Soriano started out as a programmer specialised in the launch of new project development management platforms for growing businesses. Currently, he is involved with Área 31, a business incubator founded by the IE Business School, where he contributes his extensive knowledge about the world of entrepreneurship and business creation in order to help young Europeans launch their startup.
Starting a business
When asked about the challenges that new ICT entrepreneurs face, including traditionally daunting fears such as financing, Daniel Soriano states that he believes there are numerous tools available in today’s world that can help anyone starting a business at any stage of the game, keeping in mind the fact that ICT projects don’t require a lot of investment up front. Starting up a business takes an entrepreneurial mentallity”
It’s essential to be mentally prepared when building a start up or starting a company, explains Soriano. Education is important and different people have varying degrees of education. In his opinion, the most entrepreneurial persons are those who have an idea and the initiative to build a team and who wholeheartedly want to start a project and convince clients.
One of his recommendations for young ICT entrepreneurs is to validate their idea or proposal by speaking to a lot of people, talking about their idea, going out in the real world and using already existing platforms to see if there is a business model already. In all honesty, it’s about knowing the opinion of potential users or clients since “without leaving the classroom you will never learn or become an entrepreneur.”
With regards to his work as a mentor, incubators are usually quite helpful on the road to entrepreneurship. Área 31 accepts already mature projects, which is to say entrepreneurs who are already dedication 100% of their time to the project. The incubator offers them mentoring services in specific areas, contacts and even agreements with partners.
Given the risks associated with starting up, the fear of failure and the social stigma behind it, Daniel Soriano advises that any entrepreneur truly understand their reasons for starting up and continuously believe in themselves. According to Daniel, in the present day economic situation the same risks apply when starting up as when deciding to work for someone else’s company. "Working in a startup requires persistence and dedication”.
Even though the world failure has a negative connotation in Europe, in English the word 'fail' can mean to make a mistake or mishap and is not as negatively viewed. It’s necessary to make mistakes to hit the mark. Everyone has failed, the best entrepreneurs in the world have failed, and even the wealthiest of people have failed at something. Daniel Soriano notes that the language used in Spain is rather negative: “Here the term failure makes it seem like you’ve lost your house, your wife and that you’re living in the streets.”
As for the fear of not having enough self confidence, first you must see the dynamic that exists among entrepreneurs, realize that there are others like you, understand that you are not a failure, balance entrepreneurial work and buckle down on your idea. Soriano recommends participating in entrepreneurship events, speaking with colleagues, attending project presentations, etc.
To sum up, Daniel Soriano reminds us that starting a business, working in a starting or building a company demands dedication and persisents. It also involves being cautious of your dreams and not setting the expectations too high. Most of all, though, it means enjoying the process and being sure of why you are doing it.