ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION ONLINE COURSE

What Google Gets Wrong about Entrepreneurship

by Francisco Santolo
April 2018

Let me start off by saying that I truly admire Google as a company, and certainly their initiatives in the entrepreneurial environment: Google Ventures, Google Launchpad, Google for Entrepreneurs, their Sprint methodology (inspired by the contributions of Steve Blank and other authors, although I believe they did not get the recognition they deserve for their valuable contributions to the business literature), their 10X view of innovation and disruption, and many others!

There are many available definitions of Entrepreneurship out there, and it even feels like there are different definitions for every self-named entrepreneurship "Guru". Among these definitions, we have the definition chosen by Google, a source of (supposed) uttermost credibility, and yet, their definition of Entrepreneurship is flawed.

Google's definition, which is taken from Oxford Languages, is as follows: [Entrepreneurship is] "the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit."

Once again, we fall into the same trap.  The same one that financial intermediaries (who really profit without risk) have promoted for everyone so that everyone plays in the traditional ecosystem that they benefit from, one that's all about "raising money, manipulating the scalability KPI with money, growing expenses quickly, raising more money, and getting more fees". 

Entrepreneurship is not about taking financial risks. Modern entrepreneurship is about reducing risk, even finding ways to eliminate financial and economical risk completely (there are ways to do this in every industry):  Elaborating hypothesis, testing, focusing on learning over rushing to revenue, discovering customers' real pains and gains in jobs to be done, reducing fixed costs, outsourcing, getting paid before you produce, working with the sales funnel to generate a predictable, and profitable sales roadmap. Entrepreneurship is all about searching for a repeatable and scalable business model!

Let me share two definitions of experts which I admire, and have really influenced the story of entrepreneurship:

Howard Stevenson (HBS): "Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond resources controlled". Recommended article: "Entrepreneurship: A Working Definition".

And my favorite definition from Steve Blank, the father of modern entrepreneurship (Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia): "A Startup is a temporary organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model." You can delve deeper into his explanation by reading his article "What's A Startup? First Principles".

Mr. Google, I really admire your work on innovation and advancing entrepreneurship. I hope you don't take it the wrong way, think of this article as an indicator of another possible contribution you can make towards startup knowledge.

Welcome to this wonderful world of entrepreneurship, which is now (unfortunately) under the control of financial intermediaries, but will soon be a universal activity for everyone to explore and follow their purpose and passion, independent of the resources they control, and most importantly, independent of the resources others control!
 
 

What to read next from Francisco Santolo