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Noam Wasserman talks taking ‘the leap’ in new Kauffman Sketchbook

Aspiring founders should carefully consider career circumstances, market circumstances and personal circumstances before they take the leap into an entrepreneurial venture, Noam Wasserman (left) cautions in the latest installment of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation‘s animated Sketchbook Series. The video, entitled “Take the Leap,” was released late last month. 

Wasserman, a professor at the Harvard Business School and author of the book “The Founder’s Delimmas,” preaches a pragmatic approach to entering entrepreneurship. It’s an approach Wasserman has devised to help founders steer clear of a common pitfall: “At the level of the startup, when founders are first heading in, they often don’t understand or realize when they are making an early momentous decision that is going to lead to things down the road that they are not being able to anticipate right now,” he says.

Wasserman outlines three things entrepreneurs should assess to help avoid the mistake of making major decisions without sufficient information:

  • Career: Potential founders should take an honest assessment of their preparation, skills, industry knowledge, connections and the social capital they’re bringing to the table.
  • Market: Entrepreneurs ought to ask, “Is this an idea that the market really needs? Is there a real pain that I am solving? Is there a willingness to pay to solve that pain?”
  • Personal: There’s a wide gap between a venture that’s wise for someone who’s single with no dependents and an opportunity that makes sense for someone who has multiple mouths to feed, Wasserman says. Would-be entrepreneurs must consider the other people their decisions will affect. 

For more of Wasserman’s thoughts on what would-be founders should consider before they “take the leap,” check the video above. 


Credits: Video from KauffmanFoundation on YouTube. Photo of Wasserman from hbs.edu

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