If you want to be successful in any area of life, it helps to look to those who have achieved success before you and draw lessons from their efforts. This is perhaps nowhere more true than in the area of business, where mistakes can be costly and the ability to avoid them is extremely valuable. To help our readers in this area, we took some time to look at the career of Jonathan Cornelissen, a data scientist and entrepreneur responsible for founding a large data education company. Assessing his words and actions in various aspects of life can be informative for those trying to find a measure of success in their own work.
Learn From Resources
One of the biggest constants when you look at Cornelissen’s comments and writing, is his insistence on the value of gaining knowledge by looking to outside resources. One of the most prevalent ways that he does this is through books. In interviews and blog posts, he contends that great books are some of the most effective means of gaining the knowledge needed to minimize mistakes as a first-time founder or CEO. They can also help you anticipate upcoming areas of difficulty that might present obstacles if you’re not prepared for them.
One of his favorite books on this subject is “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” by Ben Horowitz. He’s singled out the book for its total honesty, which he sees as a departure from other business books. It’s drawn from the author’s experience as a CEO and partner at a large venture capital firm. One thing to note concerning the entrepreneur’s praise of books is that he acknowledges that it can be difficult to find time to read. That’s why he’s a big proponent of audiobooks as a way to accrue knowledge without needing to set aside time for a deep dive into a physical book.
Identify Opportunity From Experience
Business ideas are universally predicated upon the idea of identifying opportunity. This can range from existing areas that are underserved to completely new concepts that have no comparisons in the market. Regardless of the form such an idea takes, it is probably the single most important aspect of starting a business. A strong idea can carry a business for years to a robust place in the economy. On the other hand, a weak idea, even one that is well-implemented, can often lead to failure and a large amount of lost investment capital. Of course, the trick is figuring out which ideas are strong and which are not.
On this front, Cornelissenhas turned to his own experiences for inspiration. The concept for his data education startup came about from his own experiences learning and teaching data fluency while he was working toward his doctorate. During that time, he was looking for a tool that could aid his students in learning the programming language R, but he found that there was no engaging platform to do so. He saw the potential in creating such a platform, not just because he wanted to use it with his students but also because he saw the value that data would increasingly have in the workplace moving into the future. That idea, pulled from his own experience and formed the kernel of his company.
One of the key considerations when creating a new business is determining who to partner with. A good partnership can add incredible value to a fledgling endeavor by bringing in funding, talent, idea generation, and more. Poor partnerships can be actively harmful, as they fill an organization with dysfunctional team members and work to steer the company’s work in ill-defined directions. Since these partnerships are often formed at a critical early stage in a business’ development, they can reverberate through a company’s culture for years to come.
In the case of Jonathan Cornelissen, smart partnerships were an important part of his company’s early efforts. He discussed the concept in a recent interview, when he explained how he worked with existing partners in education. “We were looking for ways to bring customers to our program, so we built interactive complements for courses that were on bigger platforms,” he said. “It showed the value that we could provide to people and also increased our visibility in ways that would have been hard to achieve otherwise.”
Maintain Good Habits
Starting a company can be a hectic and all-encompassing endeavor. Though such an experience can take over your life, it’s important to maintain a focus on the behaviors that helped get you to where you were when you started the business. That means adhering to good habits that help encourage order and rational thinking whenever possible. It’s easy to get swept up in the myriad of distractions that come along with start-up work, but doing so can be a dire mistake, as it robs you of the very abilities that made you successful in other aspects of your life.
This focus on maintaining strong, positive habits is evident in the entrepreneur’s life when he’s looked to the traits that have helped him succeed. One of the key habits on which he relies is something that he calls “first principle thinking.” He characterizes this as the ability to analyze a problem independently from the groupthink that surrounds it, focusing instead on the data objectively. This has allowed him to see problems in their truest light and gives him a solid foundation from which to work to solve them.
While it’s true that mistakes in business can be costly, especially for startups, it’s also the case that mistakes are avoidable through a concerted effort to educate yourself. This education can come from resources such as books or partners, but it can also come from looking to examples of those who have succeeded before you. With the above look at Jonathan Cornelissen and his various insights into what’s contributed to his success, we have a prime example of what such a role model can look like. For those seeking to navigate the trials and tribulations of founding a company, using wisdom pulled from his work can be a headstart in an economy in which even the smallest edge can be priceless.
More about Jonathan Cornelissen at https://ideamensch.com/jonathan-cornelissen/