What Is Entrepreneurship? The Continuous Quest To Real-World Problem-Solving

Entrepreneurship is a continuous quest for real-world problem-solving. The success of a business is measured by how well you helped people solve those problems. While entrepreneurs can rely on methodologies, systems, and processes, they also need to know when to revert to instinct and leverage on their experience.

Entrepreneurship as a continuous quest

The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.

Karl R. Popper

There is a lot of discussion around how entrepreneurship can leverage on the scientific method to uncover important problems in the real world.

There is one issue though, not many understand the difference between science and scientism, and what part of science is actually useful to entrepreneurs; and what’s the part that is harmful instead.

Thus, I want to make a bit of clarity around the topic.

One thing to understand about science is that it is a quest that never ends.

With that in mind, as an entrepreneur, you help to define the key problems that customers face, better and better and as a result, the business gains traction.

But rather than do that theoretically, or make too many assumptions, the key advantage of an entrepreneur is that the real world becomes a lab to test those assumptions and define and fine-tune the problem around your key customers.

It’s like a never-ending loop, where who gets smarter at fine-tuning the core problem during a time period will also build the most valuable company.

Entrepreneurship as the courage to test untested hypotheses

The man who is striving to solve a problem defined by existing knowledge and technique is not, however, just looking around. He knows what he wants to achieve, and he designs his instruments and directs his thoughts accordingly. Unanticipated novelty, the new discovery, can emerge only to the extent that his anticipations about nature and his instruments prove wrong. . . . There is no other effective way in which discoveries might be generated.

Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Markets values untested hypotheses. Of course, there is a sweet spot between hypotheses that are too wildly untested and those who are outside the status quo who can get you far.

As an entrepreneur, you get to choose the kind of bets you want to take but as you grow bets that seemed impossible become bearable; and the more you can take the chance to test untested hypotheses the more you might gain a competitive advantage.

Entrepreneurship as problem-solving in the real-world

Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.

Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery
Where scientists use labs to test their hypotheses through experimentation. Entrepreneurs build business model experiments to test their business ideas in the real world.

Karl Popper is one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. In his works, he formalized the scientific methodology not as a method of positive discovery, but rather as a method of falsification.

That means the theory is scientific only if it can be refuted.

In short, a theory to be scientific in the first place needs to be falsifiable or to be proven wrong. If it isn’t it can’t be called scientific. Therefore, knowledge doesn’t proceed positively, but rather via negativa (by proving what’s wrong not what’s right).

Thus, knowledge might just produce theories that displace the previous, where the new theory is slightly better than the prior but never true in absolute terms. Indeed, a new theory that will falsify the previous will be the new accepted model.

In this article, the assumption is that you’re starting from scratch, therefore there is no business yet. You will need to lay the foundation of the first three building blocks that will help you build a solid company:

  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Monetization

Once those three building blocks will generate a positive feedback loop, that is when you’re ready to move forward and build the remaining blocks:

In short, instead of moving with a theoretical approach where we clearly define our value proposition. We let the value proposition be defined by the people that use our product or service: our customers.

And as our customers come in we’ll master the places where they hang out, be them physical places or digital platforms. And as we do we’ll build a solid distribution strategy.

But for now, let’s focus on the first three building blocks: problem > solution > monetization and back to the problem.

Don’t stress too much on understanding right now the problem, because the real world will help you tune it. And tests and experiments can help you – with time – to master it.

One way for us to uncover real problems is through revealed preferences.

For instance, sustainable monetization in business matters not because we need to make money at all cost, but because it informs us about the real preferences people have around our business.

That is because a cash payment from your customers is the best trust signal you can get for a bootstrapped organization which reveals the preferences of your most important investors: customers.

Why business model design matters

1957 Walt Disney Productions Archive

Business model design, business engineering, and design thinking have become key ingredients of digital companies’ long-term success. But how do you build a business model that is prone to work?

It is tempting to imagine that you scatch down on a piece of paper a business model, you execute it and explosive organic growth is guaranteed. However, that almost never happens.

Beyond a few rare successful companies that managed to get to product-market fit quickly (those who win the lottery). The process of business model design, execution, testing, and iteration is a long journey which, in some cases can last years.

If you look at companies like Tesla, Uber, Slack and many others. While those companies achieved exponential growth, thanks also to their business models. Those same models are still in a process of evolution and tweaking to prove to work in the very long-term.

Thus, it is important to understand that to build a successful business model you will need a lot of testing, experimentation, and continuous iteration.

In short, unless you might have stumbled randomly on the most successful business model that will make you a billionaire. For all us human beings, there is no shortcut around a process and loop of experimentation in business modeling and it all starts by formulating a few basic tentative hypotheses.

Business model tentative hypotheses

When starting out with business model design it’s easy to draw into too many details, look at too many building blocks and assume that you need to know all beforehand.

In reality, the least assumptions you make, and the more those assumptions are specific and can be tested, the more you would be setting the ground for building a successful business model.

So where do we start? We need to take into account five key elements to validate the idea and move toward the first sustainable business model:

  • Tentative Problem hypothesis: what might be the core problem my potential customers are experiencing?
  • Solution hypothesis (and demo design): what’s the core solution I can provide to them? Can I draft a demo of that potential solution to see if there is enough interest in the product/service offered?
  • Experiment design: how can a test quickly and cheaply whether the core problem fits the core solution?
  • Expectation and duration: how long will I run it? And what makes it successful?
  • Measure: stop or iterate. Did it work? If not was there a clear sign it didn’t work? Or is there some ambiguity?

Case study: Subscription-Based Magazine Business Model With Curated Newsletter

For the sake of helping our potential customers formulate the problem not in words but in actions (payments or specific actions), we’ll start by formulating a key tentative hypothesis:

  • Problem Hypothesis: there is a potential audience that needs curated content in the vertical of historic fiction.
  • Solution Hypothesis (and demo design): I will provide a curated newsletter in the format of the magazine which talks about historic fiction (be very specific). It will be delivered weekly at a price of $9.99.
  • Experiment design: I will build a landing page announcing the magazine coming up soon by driving traffic from guest posts and some paid ads to have people submit their email. I will also A/B test two potential CTAs, one with the email subscription and the other for the pre-order of the magazine.
  • Expectation and duration: I expect to run this campaign for a month to drive about 10,000 people on the landing page. The campaign will be successful if 5% of people landed will subscribe or 1% of people landed will pre-order the service.
  • Measure: On the landing page I had a 3% conversion rate of subscribers (ambiguous). On the landing page, I had 5% of subscribers (successful). On the landing page I had 0.2% of pre-orders (failed).

If the experiment failed badly you have a clear outcome. If it was successful, you also had a good signal of it working.

If it was ambiguous it is your shot to keep testing if you believe in the project. Thus, do not leave it all up to the process, but keep some intuition, and instinct to it.

Randomness and errors

Truth emerges more readily from error than from confusion.

Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Having a single process, or method to deal with the real world makes you a weak entrepreneur.

Instead, if your success is measured to solve real-world problems, it is important to have an adaptive toolbox, a set of methodologies and heuristics that can help you deal with different scenarios and circumstances.

At the same time, you want to keep a small part of that whole process random. That’s because a bit of confusion and messiness can actually help stumble upon serendipitous opportunities that a clear, defined process would have not uncovered.

Instinct and guts

As an entrepreneur while methodologies and processes might help automate systems when they start working out.

When those systems stop working, when real-life scenarios become extremely ambiguous, you need to figure things out again. That calls up for instinct, intuition, and guts.

As an entrepreneur, you want to cherish your ability to turn to those weapons when those times come. And go back to methodologies, processes, and systems when things do work out until they don’t.

Key Highlights:

  • Entrepreneurship as Continuous Problem-Solving:
    • Entrepreneurship involves constantly identifying and solving real-world problems.
    • Business success is measured by the effectiveness of problem-solving for customers.
    • Entrepreneurs use methodologies, systems, and processes, but also rely on instincts and experience when necessary.
  • Entrepreneurship as Testing Hypotheses:
    • Like the scientific method, entrepreneurship involves testing untested hypotheses to achieve breakthroughs.
    • Markets value untested hypotheses, and as businesses grow, they can take more calculated risks to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Entrepreneurship as Real-World Problem-Solving:
    • Entrepreneurs use the real world as a laboratory to validate business ideas and test assumptions.
    • Business model experiments are conducted in the real world to refine solutions and understand customer preferences.
  • Karl Popper’s Influence:
    • Karl Popper’s philosophy of science emphasizes falsifiability and the need for theories to be refutable.
    • Entrepreneurs use real-world experiments to falsify or refine their hypotheses, leading to the evolution of their business models.
  • Building a Solid Business Foundation:
    • The first three building blocks of a business model are Problem, Solution, and Monetization.
    • These building blocks create a positive feedback loop, allowing entrepreneurs to refine their business models.
  • Importance of Business Model Design:
    • Business model design, engineering, and design thinking are crucial for long-term success.
    • Developing a successful business model involves a process of testing, experimentation, and continuous iteration.
  • Business Model Tentative Hypotheses:
    • Starting with basic assumptions that are specific and testable is key to building a successful business model.
    • Focus on key elements: Problem Hypothesis, Solution Hypothesis (including a demo design), Experiment Design, Expectations and Duration, and Measuring success.
  • Case Study: Subscription-Based Magazine Business Model:
    • The case study demonstrates how to formulate and test hypotheses for a business model.
    • Steps include formulating the problem and solution hypotheses, designing experiments, setting expectations, and measuring outcomes.
  • Randomness and Errors:
    • Entrepreneurship requires adaptability, using a toolbox of methodologies and heuristics for different scenarios.
    • Embracing some randomness and confusion can lead to serendipitous opportunities that structured processes might miss.
  • Instinct and Guts:
    • Entrepreneurs should balance methodologies and processes with instinct and intuition.
    • When faced with ambiguous or uncertain situations, relying on instinct and guts can guide decision-making.

Visual Marketing Glossary

Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy where the marketing and sales departments come together to create personalized buying experiences for high-value accounts. Account-based marketing is a business-to-business (B2B) approach in which marketing and sales teams work together to target high-value accounts and turn them into customers.


Ad Ops – also known as Digital Ad Operations – refers to systems and processes that support digital advertisements’ delivery and management. The concept describes any process that helps a marketing team manage, run, or optimize ad campaigns, making them an integrating part of the business operations.

AARRR Funnel

Venture capitalist, Dave McClure, coined the acronym AARRR which is a simplified model that enables to understand what metrics and channels to look at, at each stage for the users’ path toward becoming customers and referrers of a brand.

Affinity Marketing

Affinity marketing involves a partnership between two or more businesses to sell more products. Note that this is a mutually beneficial arrangement where one brand can extend its reach and enhance its credibility in association with the other.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Bullseye Framework

The bullseye framework is a simple method that enables you to prioritize the marketing channels that will make your company gain traction. The main logic of the bullseye framework is to find the marketing channels that work and prioritize them.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Dilution

According to inbound marketing platform HubSpot, brand dilution occurs “when a company’s brand equity diminishes due to an unsuccessful brand extension, which is a new product the company develops in an industry that they don’t have any market share in.” Brand dilution, therefore, occurs when a brand decreases in value after the company releases a product that does not align with its vision, mission, or skillset. 

Brand Essence Wheel

The brand essence wheel is a templated approach businesses can use to better understand their brand. The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality, brand essence.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Customer Lifetime Value

One of the first mentions of customer lifetime value was in the 1988 book Database Marketing: Strategy and Implementation written by Robert Shaw and Merlin Stone. Customer lifetime value (CLV) represents the value of a customer to a company over a period of time. It represents a critical business metric, especially for SaaS or recurring revenue-based businesses.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation is a marketing method that divides the customers in sub-groups, that share similar characteristics. Thus, product, marketing and engineering teams can center the strategy from go-to-market to product development and communication around each sub-group. Customer segments can be broken down is several ways, such as demographics, geography, psychographics and more.

Developer Marketing

Developer marketing encompasses tactics designed to grow awareness and adopt software tools, solutions, and SaaS platforms. Developer marketing has become the standard among software companies with a platform component, where developers can build applications on top of the core software or open software. Therefore, engaging developer communities has become a key element of marketing for many digital businesses.

Digital Marketing Channels

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Field Marketing

Field marketing is a general term that encompasses face-to-face marketing activities carried out in the field. These activities may include street promotions, conferences, sales, and various forms of experiential marketing. Field marketing, therefore, refers to any marketing activity that is performed in the field.

Funnel Marketing

interaction with a brand until they become a paid customer and beyond. Funnel marketing is modeled after the marketing funnel, a concept that tells the company how it should market to consumers based on their position in the funnel itself. The notion of a customer embarking on a journey when interacting with a brand was first proposed by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1898. Funnel marketing typically considers three stages of a non-linear marketing funnel. These are top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Particular marketing strategies at each stage are adapted to the level of familiarity the consumer has with a brand.

Go-To-Market Strategy

A go-to-market strategy represents how companies market their new products to reach target customers in a scalable and repeatable way. It starts with how new products/services get developed to how these organizations target potential customers (via sales and marketing models) to enable their value proposition to be delivered to create a competitive advantage.


The term “greenwashing” was first coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986 at a time when most consumers received their news from television, radio, and print media. Some companies took advantage of limited public access to information by portraying themselves as environmental stewards – even when their actions proved otherwise. Greenwashing is a deceptive marketing practice where a company makes unsubstantiated claims about an environmentally-friendly product or service.

Grassroots Marketing

Grassroots marketing involves a brand creating highly targeted content for a particular niche or audience. When an organization engages in grassroots marketing, it focuses on a small group of people with the hope that its marketing message is shared with a progressively larger audience.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Hunger Marketing

Hunger marketing is a marketing strategy focused on manipulating consumer emotions. By bringing products to market with an attractive price point and restricted supply, consumers have a stronger desire to make a purchase.

Integrated Communication

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Myopia

Marketing myopia is the nearsighted focus on selling goods and services at the expense of consumer needs. Marketing myopia was coined by Harvard Business School professor Theodore Levitt in 1960. Originally, Levitt described the concept in the context of organizations in high-growth industries that become complacent in their belief that such industries never fail.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Meme Marketing

Meme marketing is any marketing strategy that uses memes to promote a brand. The term “meme” itself was popularized by author Richard Dawkins over 50 years later in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. In the book, Dawkins described how ideas evolved and were shared across different cultures. The internet has enabled this exchange to occur at an exponential rate, with the first modern memes emerging in the late 1990s and early 2000s.


Microtargeting is a marketing strategy that utilizes consumer demographic data to identify the interests of a very specific group of individuals. Like most marketing strategies, the goal of microtargeting is to positively influence consumer behavior.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Net Promoter Score

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of the ability of a product or service to attract word-of-mouth advertising. NPS is a crucial part of any marketing strategy since attracting and then retaining customers means they are more likely to recommend a business to others.


Neuromarketing information is collected by measuring brain activity related to specific brain functions using sophisticated and expensive technology such as MRI machines. Some businesses also choose to make inferences of neurological responses by analyzing biometric and heart-rate data. Neuromarketing is the domain of large companies with similarly large budgets or subsidies. These include Frito-Lay, Google, and The Weather Channel.


Newsjacking as a marketing strategy was popularised by David Meerman Scott in his book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage. Newsjacking describes the practice of aligning a brand with a current event to generate media attention and increase brand exposure.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Push vs. Pull Marketing

We can define pull and push marketing from the perspective of the target audience or customers. In push marketing, as the name suggests, you’re promoting a product so that consumers can see it. In a pull strategy, consumers might look for your product or service drawn by its brand.

Real-Time Marketing

Real-time marketing is as exactly as it sounds. It involves in-the-moment marketing to customers across any channel based on how that customer is interacting with the brand.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Reverse Marketing

Reverse marketing describes any marketing strategy that encourages consumers to seek out a product or company on their own. This approach differs from a traditional marketing strategy where marketers seek out the consumer.


Remarketing involves the creation of personalized and targeted ads for consumers who have already visited a company’s website. The process works in this way: as users visit a brand’s website, they are tagged with cookies that follow the users, and as they land on advertising platforms where retargeting is an option (like social media platforms) they get served ads based on their navigation.

Sensory Marketing

Sensory marketing describes any marketing campaign designed to appeal to the five human senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are enabling marketers to design fun, interactive, and immersive sensory marketing brand experiences. Long term, businesses must develop sensory marketing campaigns that are relevant and effective in eCommerce.

Services Marketing

Services marketing originated as a separate field of study during the 1980s. Researchers realized that the unique characteristics of services required different marketing strategies to those used in the promotion of physical goods. Services marketing is a specialized branch of marketing that promotes the intangible benefits delivered by a company to create customer value.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Word-of-mouth marketing is a marketing strategy skewed toward offering a great experience to existing customers and incentivizing them to share it with other potential customers. That is one of the most effective forms of marketing as it enables a company to gain traction based on existing customers’ referrals. When repeat customers become a key enabler for the brand this is one of the best organic and sustainable growth marketing strategies.

360 Marketing

360 marketing is a marketing campaign that utilizes all available mediums, channels, and consumer touchpoints. 360 marketing requires the business to maintain a consistent presence across multiple online and offline channels. This ensures it does not miss potentially lucrative customer segments. By its very nature, 360 marketing describes any number of different marketing strategies. However, a broad and holistic marketing strategy should incorporate a website, SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media, public relations, in-store relations, and traditional forms of advertising such as television.

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