April 18, 2014

Hardest Decision An Entrepreneur Must Make?

I would argue that the most difficult decision an entrepreneur must make is which idea to turn into a business. If you hang out with entrepreneurs you will quickly realize that ideas are infinite while time is finite. Picking the ‘right’ idea is key to success. If you start with an idea that could easily turn into a ‘single’ but doesn’t have any chance of becoming a homerun I would argue you are wasting your time. Most of your HUGE ideas will fizzle, some will turn into singles and doubles – and once in a bluemoon one will be a homerun.

This morning a friend of mine asked me if I would be an adviser/investor in a startup he was working on. This friend is talented, intelligent and connected – he could do almost anything. The startup he was working on was in a very small market and was very niche – it will NEVER be a huge business. I gave the following advice:

Entrepreneurs only have a limited number of ‘at bats’. We hear about ‘overnight’ success all of the time, but almost all overnight successes take years to happen. How long does it take to figure out how your HUGE idea will turn out? From my experience it takes three to five years – an average of four years. Assuming you need a year between HUGE ideas this means you might have four ‘at bats’ during your career. Don’t waste 25% of your career on ‘known’ singles and doubles – homeruns change the world – change the world.

BTW: Side businesses are VERY distracting. If you aren’t interested enough in your ‘main’ business/job change your main business/job, don’t start a ‘side business’.

(FYI – the picture connected to this post is an inside joke with my friend)