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June 16, 2008

Are you an entrepreneur or a "wannabepreneur"? Dharmesh Shah, cofounder of the Cambridge software company HubSpot, says "wannabepreneurs" muse about doing something entrepreneurial but have never "quite gotten around to it," in part because they like the security of being ensconced in a big company.

Here's my advice: Stop Waiting!

If you've got a passion for start-ups, you need to be in a start-up. Either run with the best idea you have and start your own thing (even if the idea sort of sucks), or join the best people you know that are already doing something. Just get out of the daily slog that is most big businesses. Scratch that itch.

Be an entrepreneur, not a wannabepreneur.

Here are a few quick points to help convince you:

  • You're probably overestimating the risk of leaving that BigCo job. Chances are, that sort of job (or something awfully similar) will be there a year from now if things go miserably.

  • Though nothing compares to doing your own thing, joining a start-up team is not bad either. It's a great way to dip your toes in the water.

  • Regardless of what your risk tolerance is, you can likely still find opportunities that are more entrepreneurial than what you're doing now. There are start-ups with really high risk, with nothing but a dream and a developer (or two) all the way to start-ups that have raised several rounds of funding and are on the IPO path.

    Link: http://onstartups.com

    The repercussions of not taking prescription drugs are under-appreciated, writes Paul Levy (left) in his blog, "Running a Hospital." Levy, chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, quotes some surprising stats about "medication adherence" - the likelihood that patients are taking their medicine - from a recent presentation by George Paz of Express Scripts, which processes more than a million prescriptions every day.

    Of all patients who get a prescription, 24 percent either do not pick it up or don't begin using it.

    Among those who begin taking their medication:

  • For those with diabetes, the average adherence is 78.9 percent.

  • For those with high blood pressure, the average adherence is 83.7 percent.

  • For those with high cholesterol, the average adherence is 84.7 percent.

    What happens when there is poor adherence? At a subsequent visit, the doctor sees persistent symptoms and assumes that the dosage is not working. The doctor then reissues the same drug at a higher dose and/or adds a second drug!

    George estimates that poor adherence to drug regimens in these categories of chronic disease adds $22 to $34 billion in increased costs because the patients' conditions deteriorate to the extent that hospitalization is needed. He did not quantify the cost of drugs that are purchased by the insurance companies and never used by the patient, but that should be added in, too.

    Link: http://runningahospital.blogspot.com/

    Perhaps more people in business ought to have the courage to admit when they don't know something. Venture capitalist Mike Hirshland of Waltham's Polaris Venture Partners says it's refreshing when people admit they "don't know what they don't know."

    This was music to my ears. This company, like many early-stage ventures, is playing in a few very different sandboxes, and the reality is there are probably no execs on the planet who are actually deep in all of them. While this poses challenges, it is also what makes a lot of stuff in today's Web start-up world fun and exciting.

    To be successful, though, entrepreneurs and start-up CEOs need to have the maturity and confidence to know when they are treading in foreign waters and ask for help. This maturity and confidence actually is often hard to come by, but it sure is welcome.

    PS: For the record, VCs are probably more guilty than any in not recognizing what we don't know . . .

    Link: http://vcmike.wordpress.com/

    Read a blog post worth sharing? E-mail kirsner@pobox.com.

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