My dad had a tough time. Worked the corporate world his entire life. Always wanted to start and own his own business. Saved the money, left corporate, bought a franchise, worked 16 hour days. All right before 2007 when the economy crashed.
We’ve learned a lot about random effects in business. Taleb’s groundbreaking work on revealing the randomness on Wall Street is directly applicable to starting businesses and entrepreneurship.
The concept is that if an idea is obviously a good one, than it will have been tried already. And if it’s not perfectly obvious that it’s a good idea, than it carries a certain degree of risk such that even the smartest people cannot know whether or not it will work. Even the smartest people on Wall Street are never perfect on whether a business will work out (stock will go up or down, in fact, they’re right only slightly more than half the time versus the index).
The degree of the idea’s risk is proportionate to the it’s likelihood of working. Even when gauged by, again, the smartest people. Remember the head of the computer company who said the world demand for computers could really only be a few?
The point is that in business. Even the smartest people can’t know. If they did, they’d be doing the idea already. And if you’re a behavioral economics buff, than you know there’s a million biases in our reptilian brains that make us think we knew what was going on, after an outcome occurs.
So what does that mean for entrepreneurs? The generation before us was so focused on the one big idea. They thought that if you were smart, you were going to find the one idea, and make millions. And if you weren’t smart, than tsk tsk, no good ideas for you. But the above knowledge makes us realize that if you’re going to go for something big, you have to be ready to fail. A lot. So an entrepreneur’s life needs to be a set-up of getting ‘at bats’. And getting as many ‘at bats’ as possible. This means minimal viable product, having your hands in many things, testing ideas and concepts as much as possible. Oh and yes you do have to be smart. Sergey Brin was incredibly intelligent. But that’s not why he’s a billionaire. He’s a billionaire because he is smart AND he was also born in the right era, schooled in the right place, at the right time, met the right people at the right time and was incredibly lucky.
Stop waiting for the perfect pitch. Get to the plate.