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April 06, 2015

Seasoned entrepreneur says 'get a job first'

A word of caution before you launch that startup

It might be tempting for aspiring business men and women to jump right into the fray of trying to build their own startup. But as one seasoned vet advises, young entrepreneurs might want to hold their horses.

In an editorial piece for Venture Beat, Mark Weiner explains that becoming a successful entrepreneur takes time and experience:

Your first step should be to join a growing company in Silicon Valley. This is where you can build your network, gain leadership experience, and really learn how the startup model works. Yes, entrepreneurship is your ultimate goal. But beforehand, take some time to map out how you’re going to get there. 

It's safe to assume that Weiner's logic applies to Philly's booming tech scene as well. He goes on to give tips on gathering the right team and researching your customers before you launch a business.

Before you dismiss his advice, know that Weiner has been around the block. He's got more than 20 years of marketing experience and has helped lead seven successful startups. Currently, he serves as chief marketing officer for the security vendor Centrify

Plus, the research backs him up. A 2014 study from Gallup says while there are a number of reasons that explain why half of U.S. companies fail within their first five years, the heart of any successful startup begins and ends with the entrepreneur. Much of a new business' success hinges on the person starting it. 

As Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal, Ph.D., Gallup's lead researcher in entrepreneurship, explains, the individual's abilities are key, and those abilities are unique:

Many experts do believe that you can take anyone and make that person into a super-successful entrepreneur. Unfortunately, that's really not the case. Providing someone with training and support can ignite whatever entrepreneurial capacity the individual has, but it cannot make the person creative or turn him or her into a risk-taker or into an achievement-oriented person.

So, before you start that Kickstarter page, you might want to get a job first and grind your teeth in the business.