Stacking the Deck

Increasing your odds of Success

9/10 Startups fail

What makes you so confident that your idea is the best thing since sliced bread? Why will you survive while the rest of your competition dies off?

While there is no prescriptive way to build a successful company ; I have defined the measures you must take broadly in this formula:

Success = a bunch of little things + luck + time

The little things are a product of hard work and hustle — things you can completely control (given capital).

The next component — perhaps the most mysterious — is luck.

Luck is a big factor in dictating the success of a company. While its largely variable, there are things you can do to increase your odds of getting lucky.

Think of it like a game of poker, i.e. a game of luck. But play with any professional poker player and you will find out (sooner or later $$$) that their is skill involved. Tons of it. There are certain things that the best players do to up their odds and win more games. The best players get lucky more often than anyone else.

Founders can do the same thing. These “serial entrepreneurs” are able to increase their chances of “luck.”

So how can you stack the deck in your favor without bending the rules?

Aside — bending the rules is illegal and unethical — don’t do it.

#1 Location

As a founder, you should choose the best location for your business. For most companies, that answer is, in 2016, Silicon Valley. But I would limit that answer to most technology, fast-paced companies. And that is simply because of network density — it is easier and quicker to test and iterate in the valley. But if you are a music company, you go to Nashville. And media, you go to LA. And medicine, hey why not come to St. Louis.

Anyways, you can do yourself a favor early on by going to the right location for your business. It will help you immensely in capturing new talent, speaking to customers, and gaining access of information — scarce resources that can be extremely valuable.

#2 Work With People You Like

An alarming percentage of startups fail due to founder break-ups. Though everyone believes in their marriage from the get go, not all relationships can or will last. Be extremely cognizant of who you sign to be your co-founders or early hires — because their fate, not yours, may dictate the livelihood of the company.

Work with people that know a lot of about you. You are about to start spending a lot of time with them. So make sure you can handle each other.

#3 Talk to customers

At least for me, it is really hard to predict what people are thinking. That not only takes luck, but also mind-reading capabilities — something most people do not have.

So do the next best thing and increase your odds of success 10X — talk to your customers. It is much harder to get dressed in the dark than in the light. Think of that the same way for building a product. If you do not really know what people want, then how do you expect to build a product that they will love.

#4 Have Fun

Another reason that a ton of startups fail is that their founders are unable to stay passionate and driven.

The reality of most startup experience is pretty sad, marked by uphill struggles and near death depressions. And before you sign your life away to this marriage, know exactly what you are getting yourself into. And if you did, then you would agree with me that there needs to be some fun inter-mixed with every 16 hour work day.

Do not burn out. If you love what you are doing today, expect that you will not in two years. EXPECT THAT.

Now do something about it — and build some fun into your routine!

Get lucky more than anyone else — people will think you are cheating, or a leprechaun.

let’s continue this chat on twitter ! @itsjordangonen

Author: jordangonen


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