Startup Success: You Got To Get Lucky

Oh You Lucky Startup Founder, You!

There are plenty of motivational speakers out there who speak about being successful and purport to have the magic formula for success in their back pocket, all you need is to throw them a mere $97 (A $400 savings off of the regular price of $497) and they will show you exactly what you need to do in order to ensure your success.

Success requires luck. There, I said it. If you want to have a successful startup, you must get lucky.

Trouble is, success is not repeatable. You can’t just use the exact same formula that someone else did and be successful. You can’t just execute the same moves that Warren Buffet or Bill Gates did, then suddenly, in the same amount of time, be as rich as them. Most everyone that you probably consider successful today probably realized that success through pure luck – all of the planets had aligned for that one moment, and in that one moment, they were pushed into the limelight.

(Some people will argue – sure it is repeatable. How about “serial entrepreneurs”? If you ask me, they don’t really count as once they’ve hit their first success, no matter when it happens, they are on the “success side” already, and don’t need to try as hard to be noticed in the same way a lucky entrepreneur needs to be)

What are the planets for success?

  • Timing
  • People
  • Work

Let’s start with timing. In the early 2000s, I ran a startup called AdviceTrader, which is a lot like Quora today. We started with async advice (you would post a question and people would answer it, just like Quora) and then moved on to providing instant chat and phone advice in the exact same way. Sounds like a great idea, right? It was, and still is – even today there are Q&A startups trying to duplicate that model. But we were too early, and we failed. If we had enough traction to keep going, we might still be around today. But that’s just market timing. If you look at most success stories, the individuals either where either in the right place at the right time, or were noticed by someone in the press (or the pseudo press, like prominent bloggers) who then talked about them to their followers, one of which was an investor who got interested enough to connect.

On the people front, it should be painfully obvious to all of the introverts out there that success seems to require extroversion – that the ability to enjoy connecting with people and hanging out with people (and maybe even drinking with people) and just connecting people together makes a big difference. As I’ve said in previous posts – unlike the famous saying “It’s all about who you know” it’s actually the opposite “It’s all about who knows you.” And if you are an introvert, not a lot of people know about you. So, and as I said, this might be painful for you introvert founders, you need an extrovert on your team. Someone who can go out there and either use their existing connections, or make new ones for you.

Finally, yes, work, hard work, is still part of the solution. Although, if you ask me, it’s much less important that the other factors. If you can be as successful with an app which took you 6 hours to build as with an app which took a year to build, then you should probably be looking at doing the former.

So yes, startup success requires luck. But there is no reason you can’t increase your odds. You know what to do – now do it.

— image: images money

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