By Shantanu Mohan
January 16, 2018
Did you know that 9 out of every 10 businesses that start fail within the first year? That is a staggering statistic that indicates the odds are against every entrepreneur. We don’t read about that much on the internet. When’s the last time you opened a blog that said: “guess what, if you’re an entrepreneur, the chances are that you will not succeed”? We don’t like to hear about that.
Instead, we want to hear about the 1 in 10 that make it. We like to listen to podcasts about Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. But denying reality doesn’t exempt us from it. The key is not to hide and pretend that the odds are against us. The key is to find out what makes some entrepreneurs succeed while the majority of all the others fail.
Finding that formula will help to put us in the 10% success rate.
So what’s the secret? How do some entrepreneurs succeed against the odds?
There are in fact 2 key ingredients that determine why some entrepreneurs succeed. Without these 2 factors, one can easily fall into the 90% statistic of unsuccessful startups.
So what are the 2 things successful entrepreneurs have that the unsuccessful ones do not?
Let’s take a close look at each one together.
Conventional wisdom says to always have a plan B. And for successfully established companies, that is good, sound advice. But plan B is risk management. And risk management is counterintuitive to the entire entrepreneurial process. We aren’t advocating to throw common sense to the wind, but the fact is that if plan B is an option, then plan A does not have to work.
For example, the employee who quits and says, “If it doesn’t work I’d like to come back,” and then goes on to start his own business has done two things. The first is that he has made a wise choice in minimizing his risk of the entrepreneurial endeavor not succeeding. The second thing he has done is minimized the chances of the entrepreneurial endeavor succeeding at all.
The reason is that psychologically he knows it does not have to work. If it doesn’t, he can always go back to his former job. Again, that is wise risk management, but it is bad entrepreneurial launching.
As is the case in every financial endeavor, risk and reward have a direct relationship. Diversity in an ETF with stocks and bonds and you will get more consistent, lower returns. Drop all your money into a promising stock and get really rich or lose it all.
The same is true for successful entrepreneurs. If you have a bridge to cross in the event the business tanks, you will not have to succeed. If you burn the bridge, however, your business has to work. And that makes all the difference.
We’re not saying you need to quit your job in an unprofessional manner. But we are saying that you’ve got to burn the fields behind you and not look back.
In 1519, Hernan Cortes landed in Veracruz Mexico and conquered the land. Do you know how he did it? When he landed, he burned the ships that sailed him and his crew to Mexico. At that point, he had to conquer it. There was no other choice.
The same is true for all successful entrepreneurs.
If your business has to work, then the chances of it working greatly increase. If you have fall-back options, then you just might fall back.
“Let’s see if this will work,” is a terrible strategy. It is too flimsy. Successful entrepreneurs don’t say “if” – we make sure. A lot of this is mindset. The hard part is maintaining the decision to win when the evidence says you will lose.
When you launch your idea, you do so with a desire to win – to be successful. But what happens when venture capital investors decline your invitation to invest? What about when traffic doesn’t flock to your blog? How do you handle negative reviews and customer critiques?
What happens to many entrepreneurs is that their mindset (and thus, their game plan) shifts with the facts. When they started, they desired to win, but when the evidence started saying they were going to lose, they believed the facts.
At that point, their desire to win became a decision to lose. And from that point on, the rest is usually history (in a bad way).
What successful entrepreneurs do is launch with a desire to win. Then, when facts to the contrary start rolling in, we decide to win. We make the decision that we are going to win regardless of what the numbers are saying at the moment.
We will win. Period. This is a decision based on a mental state, not on the facts.
And it is this mental state that carries us over the hurdles, around the mountains, and through the tunnels.
We simply decide to win and refuse to accept any other possibility.
All in all, successful entrepreneurs don’t have it easy. It requires risks and a willingness to (not deny but to) overcome the facts.
We burn the bridges behind us and abandon any plan B, other options, or alternative routes. Our idea has to work.
And once we start making it work, we refuse to believe the overwhelming evidence that stacks against us. We decide that we will win no matter what.
And when launch with these two secrets in place, we end up in the category of the 10% of successful entrepreneurs who make their dreams come true.
We invite you to contact us about how we can be a part of your journey as a successful entrepreneur.