I was talking to my older brother the other day, about startups, siblings, raising children, and he shocked me, right in the middle of an otherwise smooth conversation, with this:
Now you’re guilty of one-size-life-thinking. You do that way too much. You want everybody to do things the way you did.
That took me aback. It sounded insulting. But (damn) it’s also true.
What’s more important is how much writing on startups and entrepreneurship and business stories flows from that same basic premise:
You should do what I did. It worked for me. It should work for you too.
There are so many problems with that. They are too obvious to list, all about different times, different worlds, resources, goals, and so forth.
Conclusion: beware of best practices, recipes, checklists, and anything a successful entrepreneur is too sure of. Trust uncertainty. Make your own way.
photo credit: jenny downing via photopin cc
How often do you see successful entrepreneurs, experts, teachers, and various other experts telling would-be or wanna-be startups that starting a business is all about persistence? Too often. It’s a dangerous myth.
Why: persistence is only relevant if the rest of it is right. There’s no virtue to persistence when it means running your head into walls forever. Before you worry about persistence, that startup has to have some real value to offer, something that people want to buy, something they want or need. And it has to get the offer to enough people. It has to survive competition. It has to know when to stick to consistency, and when to pivot.
So persistence is simply what’s left over when all the other reasons for failure have been ruled out. Those successful entrepreneurs who talk about their experience? They’re not lying. They look back on it, and it was persistence that saw them through. Because every startup is a lot of work, a lot of mistakes, a lot of failures. So a lot of startups that might have made it otherwise fail because it’s just too damn hard to stay with it.
And then, if everything else is right, persistence matters.