3 Important Things That Will Help You Become A Successful Entrepreneur

Successful entrepreneurship is a combination of three things: genetics, circumstance, and perseverance. Let’s go through all three.


Genetics: The Founder Institute has completed social science testing on over ten thousand prospective entrepreneurs, measuring Big 5 personality, Fluid Intelligence, IQ, etc. The Institute then watched who became successful and correlated back the measured traits that best predicted success in a scientific process. The traits that predict success best are genetic (The Founder Institute), such as Fluid Intelligence and Openness. BUT, just because you have traits that MAY make you successful as an entrepreneur does not mean that you WILL be successful. Similarly, just because you are tall does not mean that you are a good basketball player. You need other things.

Circumstance: Being in the proverbial right place at the right time matters a lot toward your ultimate success as an entrepreneur. Michael Diamant started iClips, a site exactly like YouTube, a few years before YouTube launched. iClips was a truly well-executed business, but the bandwidth, camera penetration and streaming technology did not exist for it to gain massive traction. I would not recommend building a fax machine company in 2014, but it made a lot of sense in 1989. Timing is everything. You can have the best business idea while a poor student in high school, and then a veteran entrepreneur does the same business with millions in venture capital and captures the whole market. Or, you can create a market, like MySpace, which then shows a competitor, Facebook, on how to execute better on the same vision. Some circumstances are in your control, and some circumstances are outside of your control.

Perseverance: You only fail in your business when you actually give up, so, in fact, no business would ever fail if people persevered. I know the Founders of many of the most successful technology companies in the world, and there were (and still are times) where the Founders refused to give up despite unbelievable problems, stress and negative signaling. Elon Musk called entrepreneurship “like eating glass and walking on hot coals at the same time.” An entrepreneur faces all of the debilitating problems of their own life coupled with all of the personal problems of their team, as well as hostile operating environments, limited capital, stretched resources, no time, regulatory burdens, etc. The loneliness and darkness of entrepreneurship are not discussed very often, but they are very real. Those that persevere succeed. Those that don’t don’t.

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You will notice that I have not mentioned your idea as important to success as an entrepreneur. There are definitely better ideas and worse ideas. I have seen great ideas fail and bad ideas become worth billions. The easiest two examples of successful bad ideas are Google and eBay. Doing another search engine around 1999 was a definitely stupid idea. Sending used merchandise through the mail to people that you met online and then mailing a $0.23 commission check to eBay, when stamps cost $0.25, was a stupid idea as well. Stupid or not, their combined market cap is $440 billion today.

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