Learn from the mistakes of others—you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.
As described in Chapter 4, breathing life into an idea requires a visionary with the energy and resources to make the vision a demonstrable reality. The entrepreneur's motivations for innovation in corporate America and academia may include personal gratification, the thrill of competition, the prospect of fame and fortune, or the simple joy of problem solving. In the arena of human interactions and corporate politics, R&D gives the entrepreneur an outlet for creativity, rivalry, and ambition, constrained only by the economy and the potential consumer base. Regardless of setting, what differentiates entrepreneurs from dreamers is that they act on their visions. After instantiating his vision on a paper napkin or formal presentation to potential backers, the first action an entrepreneur takes who is intent on transforming his vision into a commercial product is to engage in meaningful, focused R&D.
The stereotypical view of R&D activity as the work of some driven inventor toiling tirelessly, closed up in a small work area for weeks and months on end is the stuff of movies. In reality, R&D is the work of many men and women, closed up in a work area for weeks and months on end. The lone inventor working away in his garage after her day job simply cannot compete with the resources of the R&D machines backed by the government and industry. Whether ...