"The Lean Startup" Author Eric Ries On Entrepreneur Being A Job Title

1) What's the biggest lesson you learned in 2012?

"That entrepreneurship is a new corporate function. I have been saying for a few years now that entrepreneurship is a management discipline. But I had not really understood until this year that this means companies need to have a functional department dedicated to it. If companies are looking to have teams build new disruptive innovations, each team should have a leader whose business card says 'entrepreneur.' And when you start to think that through, you realize that person is going to need to report to someone who understands how to hold entrepreneurs accountable, which is a very different problem from holding general managers accountable. Entrepreneurs can't forecast accurately, because they are trying something fundamentally new. So they will often be laughably behind plan—and on the brink of success."

2) How do you think you'll apply it in the year ahead?

"I used to think that only big companies and students had to study entrepreneurship. 'Real entrepreneurs just do it.' A lot of entrepreneurs hate big companies. But if you hate them so much, why are you trying to build a new one? The truth is, as soon as a startup has any kind of success whatsoever, it will face big company problems. How do we balance serving new customers with the needs of existing customers? How do we build new teams to go explore new opportunities and build new products? So one of my goals for the year ahead is to help entrepreneurs meet these challenges head-on by learning to systematize things that they do naturally. It's one thing to have the personal agility to make a bold pivot. But how do you teach that skill to your employees? How do you help them become the entrepreneurs your company will need to succeed for the long term?"

More Lessons for 2013 from some of today's most innovative business thought leaders here.

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