The proof of the pudding is in the eating

What do you do when you have found a problem worth solving? How do you go about planning the solution? To be entrepreneurial, you should not create a solid business plan. Why? Because you set clear goals for the business plan, and therefore you are restricted in your creativity and flexibility. After all, how are you supposed to know the goal if you have not yet defined the exact solution to the problem and also cannot test what your future customers want to buy?

Contrary to the natural reflex of defining a goal and being "guided" by it, successful entrepreneurs use what is currently available to them to find the best solution - the goal - for their customers. This approach, recognized by the well-known entrepreneurship researcher Saras Sarasvathy, is called the "effectuation approach". Although the future remains uncertain, the entrepreneurs can immediately access a secure resource with the available means and start building up the company accordingly.

The Effectuation approach makes the difference between entrepreneurs and managers apparent. The preparation of a menu serves to illustrate the difference. Managers select a recipe and obtain the necessary ingredients. In contrast, the entrepreneur takes a look at the available ingredients and creates different menus from them. He does this to find out which tastes best. The manager's behavior can be deduced from the fact that he moves in a world in which the future can (usually) be predicted well, and the necessary funds can be obtained. In the world of entrepreneurship, uncertainty is part of the daily routine. To reduce this uncertainty, the entrepreneur tries to create and test many potential solutions so that no cluster risk arises.

Essential for you now is to make an inventory of your resources. The means include monetary and non-monetary ones. To simplify this process, ask yourself:

Who am I?

This question is about your preferences. It will give you an orientation about the problems you should address in your business. Experience has shown that only identity-creating entrepreneurial topics receive your full attention and appreciation. This is essential for you to retain the perseverance to find and implement your solution to the entrepreneurial problem. Make your preference list for your predilections, interests, and values.

Whom do I know?

This question is aimed towards your network and should guarantee you access to additional resources available in your network. Your network can support you financially or mentally in the development of solutions and ideas. Your problem and the solutions you are looking for are best "pitched" first at the well-known 3-F's (Family, Friends, and Fools). Once you have convinced them, there is a good chance that you will have your first investors on board. In a second step, it is vital that you do not only focus on your contacts in your immediate environment. Several times you can get essential insights and relevant contacts via your extended network, i.e., friends of friends - so-called "weak ties". Make a short list of contacts you know well and a long list of contacts you know less well.

What can I do?

Your skills, knowledge, and abilities are needed here. Experience is more valuable for business problem solving than pure theoretical knowledge. As is well known, entrepreneurship is about action and not theory. It is about you starting to act and trying things out. This is so because experience has a more substantial effect on the success of an enterprise than pure teaching. Many entrepreneurs start a business after they have gained some years of experience in a company. So look beyond your area of expertise, integrate your skills and know-how, and you will find solutions to existing problems. Create your strength profile with your fields of competence, your (professional) experience, your specialized expertise, and your knowledge.