What luck has to do with it? It seems many startup founders feel like some are luckiers than others. The solo entrepreneur that got that big VC deal. That team of nobodies that was bought by Google. Or even those guys that you met at the coffee shop and didn’t seem to know what to do and now are going for an IPO. Luck?
What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger
A really good article published by the New York Times written by Jimm Collins and Morten T. Hansen explores the events that can shape a company. It talks about how Bill Gates made it big, and at first you may think he was extremely lucky. But if you dig further, you can see that the series of events that led him to be successful with Microsoft could as well have taken many more people in the same direction. Why didn’t others, equally positioned to reap the rewards, succeeded?
“When the time came to execute on their good fortune, they stumbled. They didn’t fail for lack of good luck. They failed for lack of superb execution.”
Execution is the key word used by the authors and one you have certainly seen elsewhere. VCs, Angels, and experienced entrepreneurs all talk about execution. You have this great idea for a Facebook killer? A revolutionary iPhone app? A ground-breaking enterprise software? Great. So do hundreds of others. What will ultimately decide who is successful is how each person (or team) executes.
It is also interesting that the article talks about the bad moments that every company faces. And you know of many, for sure, that have stumbled again and again only to finally find their mojo and come back with a vengeance. Startups that fail abound, those that succeed are rarely remembered for their darker times because they were able to learn, overcome them, and become better.
The Question You Face
The question you and all of us startup founders face is not whether we’ll be lucky. Is whether we’ll be able to identify lucky events and how we respond to them. As the authors put it:
“There are smart decisions and wise decisions. And one form of wisdom is the ability to judge when to let luck disrupt our plans. Not all time in life is equal. The question is, when the unequal moment comes, do we recognize it, or just let it slip? But, just as important, do we have the fanatic, obsessive discipline to keep marching, to push the opportunity to the extreme, to make the most of the chances we’re given?”
Check out the full article, it’s worth it.