Starting a new business often feels like more of an art than a science. There’s no single formula for success, but that doesn’t mean the scientific method is irrelevant in your entrepreneurial pursuits. After all, as the maxim goes: “If you can measure it, you can manage it.” Here are a few recent examples of some rules of thumb, discovered through years of careful observation.
1. Perseverance pays off – eventually.
Launching a company requires not only immense dedication, but also nerves of steel. Fred Wilson, principal of venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, recently discussed The Startup Curve diagram, showing the squiggly line of dizzying emotional highs and lows that all entrepreneurs must endure to ensure long-term success. In her essay, The Future of Self-Improvement, Part 1: Grit Is More Important Than Talent, Jocelyn K. Glei, Editor-in-Chief of 99%, describes how mere hard work is often the best predictor of outstanding performance, often trumping both IQ and innate ability.
2. You don’t always need a fancy degree.
College instruction will never hinder you from becoming a successful business owner, but it’s not a prerequisite. As Fred Wilson said in another AVC blog post, roughly 20 to 30 percent of the 21 companies in Union Square Ventures’ portfolio were started by people who did not graduate from college. That said, it’s still a good idea to bone up on the often bewildering jargon tossed around in the startup space. As Forbes.com contributor Erica Swallow notes, the tongue-in-cheek infographic, The Founder’s Dictionary, can give you some humorous insight into common buzzwords.
3. Don’t go it alone.
Communications expert Gini Dietrich, at SpinSucks blog, cites a Harvard Business Review study finding that more than half of CEOs surveyed experienced feelings of loneliness, most of whom say it has negatively affected their performance. Besides, it’s always important to have a confidant to get you through the rough patches. Venture capitalist Mark Suster provides a cautionary tale about how he learned to listen to his legal adviser and never negotiate piecemeal with a client. Read this article to make sure you don’t give away your future bargaining power!
4. Chaos can be controlled.
Well, almost. Chaos theory postulates that seemingly random events can be explained by a series of complex computations. The U.K. utility British Gas worked with psychologist David Lewis, economist Keylan Leyser and mathematician Philip Obadya to create a similar deconstruction of Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it will.” The resulting Murphy’s Law Calculator predicts the chances that you are “bound to screw up at least once.” Before your next plan starts falling apart, run your numbers through their formula and find out where you might need help.
5. You’re never too old to have a great idea.
In a world of 24-year-old billionaires, success seems to be only for the young and preternaturally gifted. Those of us not named Zuckerberg or Jobs, however, may find inspiration in another calculator called Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age, devised by the humor site The Museum of Conceptual Art. Move forward to the 40+ age range and be amazed at how much people can still accomplish later in life.
These five tips will get you started toward better entrepreneurship, but the never-ending scientific process always seeks new data.
What other rules of thumb do you rely on for inspiration?
Images by StartupQuote.com