A Follow-up with Kuemmerle

By: Editor
May 2004 Corporate

After composing the review of Executive Behaviors for Entrepreneur Success, we reached out to speak directly with Walter Kuemmerle, author of “A Test for the Fainthearted” and professor at Harvard Business School. He graciously shared his thoughts on the subject of entrepreneurship and the points made in the article.

We asked him what has developed since writing “A Test for the Fainthearted”. His answers follow.

“There was a resounding positive response from practicing entrepreneurs to A Test for the Fainthearted. For both opportunity and need based entrepreneurs, much of it rang very true.

Business people with formal training sometimes develop an expectation that a business strategy is something that is durable overtime. This might be true for established firms. Startups, however, typically wrestle with their business model for some time. Their strategy often evolves and changes quickly.

The question of “Can you Close?” turned out to be highly challenging. Every entrepreneur needs to sell. Sales is typically not part of formal training in business schools and cannot simply be learned from reading a text. It has to be learned from doing it and through being coached by an experienced salesperson in the process. Hopeful entrepreneurs should jump at any reasonable opportunity to practice selling.

In the context of today, A Test for the Fainthearted remains highly relevant and valid. Two years ago, it was tougher to get a new venture off the ground. Today, the market for venture capital has changed, macro-economic conditions are better and for anybody with a good idea it is a good time to get started.”

We greatly appreciate his in-depth response.