As you ease gently into your plush black leather executive chair, you spot the latest copy of Fortune magazine resting on your mahogany desk. You swivel around for a better view ... and there you are on the cover! Just a few inches below your pearly whites run the words "30-Something CEO Makes It Big in Biotech." So, you've really made it--how satisfying!
But suddenly a familiar voice calls out, "Hey, you're gonna run those samples right off that gel!"
Alas, it was all a dream. You thank your fellow postdoc for alerting you to the impending danger and proceed to dismantle the gel apparatus. But wouldn't it be great to run your own company and be your own boss?
In the real world, it may indeed be great to be your own boss, but it's not so easy. Before you start spending your life savings, you'll need to do some investigating. And where can you turn for information on what it takes to run your own business? Why, Science's Next Wave, of course! Next Wave's library of articles on entrepreneurship and business development for scientists can help, whether you are curious about setting up your own company or contemplating a move into the business department of someone else's company.
The Voice of Personal Experience
Peter Kolchinsky has seen other scientists try to start biotech companies--and he even attempted to form a company himself while still a graduate student at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Although his biotech venture failed, Kolchinsky learned a lot about the process--so much that he decided to put his thoughts down in a virtual paper, The Entrepreneur's Guide to a Biotech Start-Up, which is available for free on the Web.
As Kolchinsky drives home in The Guide, it takes a lot more than a good idea to be successful. A budding entrepreneur must look at all the angles, from the marketing of the technology to the people she will need to employ. In fact, in an e-mail interview with Science's Next Wave, Kolchinsky says, "Readers might be surprised to learn that ... a good attorney is the most important member of your team."
You might, for example, want to peruse last year's Business Plan Competitions feature, which includes articles on competitions around the world. The exercise of forming a business plan and presenting it in a competition can be an eye-opening experience--and one that can help you make important contacts. This feature marked the debut of an ongoing Entrepreneurship series organized by Next Wave's German portal. Written by members of Berlin's Entrepreneurship Institute, each article includes valuable information for aspiring business-types in any country.
Becoming an Entrepreneur includes resources and essays from a venture capitalist, a lawyer, and an entrepreneur on how to start your own company.
And learn from those who've made it big in the Entrepreneurial Role Models for Success feature, a collection of six first-person essays by scientists who've successfully made the leap from the bench to start their own businesses.
For those of you who crave practical tips, or who are pondering getting another degree (!), bookmark the indices to two series of articles written by Next Wave's former Canadian editor, Charles Boulakia. It all began with A Scientist's Switch to the MBA Track, which chronicles Boulakia's journey from the bench and back to the classroom for a combined law/MBA program. And more recently, Charles's Learnin's From My MBA series explains the nitty-gritty of what you will learn in an MBA program, from finance to marketing to drafting a business plan.
Next Wave's Tooling Up columnists have also tackled this topic. Dave Jensen's two-part series on Learning to Think Like an Entrepreneur gives real-world examples of scientists who gained entrepreneurial skills while still in the laboratory. Jensen also lifts the lid on the interesting question of how the mind of an entrepreneur really works.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Not sure you want to go back for your MBA, but also not sure you have the practical knowledge to make it out there? Click over to Peter Fiske's farewell Tooling Up column, entitled Putting Your Science to Work: Applying Your Ph.D. Skills in the Practical World. Fiske's article points out that in the process of earning your Ph.D., you have acquired the very talents and skills that many employers value in the business world.
Finally, look below for more articles on entrepreneurship from Next Wave's library, and good luck with your venture!