How To Think Like An Entrepreneur

What it takes to be a thriving involves M&Ms

School Of Life storefront melbourne
Photo via The School Of Life

As a former management consultant, co-founder and CEO of OurSay and now the teacher of a course entitled How to Think Like an Entrepreneur, Eyal Halamish knows a thing (or three) about good business. We picked his brains on what it takes to be a thriving start-up – and it involves M&Ms.

Spread risk by having more than one idea

As humans, we are fairly terrible at assessing odds of success and failure. Entrepreneurs don’t know which of their ideas, products or services will work, no matter how much research they do. They know that some won’t make it, but wait to see which one achieves take-off.

This avoids the problem of falling in love with an idea. You can still care passionately about the project but if you bet everything on the success of one project, you are more likely to ignore flaws and problems. When we do this we are likely to bet bigger and be more devastated by failure.

Stop over-complicating prototypes

You don’t need factories or producers to create a prototype. Prototypes should be minimum viable products or less – they’re simple models of what you’re trying to create. One of my mentors, Tom Chi, the former head of Google X, was involved in prototyping the first model of Google Glass. He normally asks the question, “How long do you think it took me to build the first proto-type?” Most would think it took months to build this complex piece of hardware, a computer that sits on your head. Tom built the first proto-type in 45 minutes using a projector and a coat hanger.

Rapid prototyping is the best way to calculate risk. It allows you to iron out the problems, or even mothball the idea for the time being, before you have invested too much. Little effort or learning is wasted as chances are it’ll come in useful for another project.

Set tripwires

When I was at university, we invited Talib Kweli, a hip hop artist to come perform at our university and he asked for only white M&Ms as snacks backstage. Pulling off a good performance involves many moving parts and this helps managers assess how well the details have been looked after.

Some entrepreneurs set tripwires to help them avoid spending too much time on something or force themselves to pay closer attention to something which may not be working. They might say, “I’ll only spend this much and then review” or “If I haven’t got to this point by Jan 1, I’ll take stock.”

Eyal Halamish is a faculty member at The School of Life Melbourne where he teaches How to Think Like an Entrepreneur (next classes are July 6 and August 19). For more information visit

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