This was the question posed to me recently on Quora (Answer here). Of course the first instinct is to list the obvious: team, vision, product, network, etc. None of which happen to be “magical”. So it would seem there is no magic, well with a possible exception of one very special ingredient – You
To which you might say “duh”. But this “you” is not just any kind of “you”, it would not be magical then. What this “you” needs is an additional trait, something most do not have, unfortunately.
This attribute is a strong, unstoppable, uncontrollable desire to succeed. This desire needs to be so strong that it would engulf you and drive your whole life toward this single goal. This is true not only for start-ups but for anything really.
Take sports for instance, are the best athletes the most talented? Sure, some are, but the vast majority also have the biggest desire to win that you can imagine. Most, probably all, have also met the mystical rule of “10,000 hours” as mentioned in the book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. The rule basically states that to be successful in anything, you need to spend at least 10,000 hours doing it.
For instance, as a hobby, I am also a professional pool/billiards instructor and I see time and time again that talent, or any other factor, has very little to do with success. Sure it gives a little edge, but in the end it all comes down to desire.
Some people play the game in a wheelchair and are far better than 99.9% of all players out there. Why? They spent thousands of hours practicing, honing their skill, finding strengths in their weaknesses, modifying tools to help them succeed, etc. They filled their minimum 10 000 hours several times over.
With start-ups it is exactly the same. You might not even have an idea, know any code or be particularly good at entrepreneurship. If you have the desire you will have your mind searching for ideas, you will spend every little bit of free time learning how to code/how to do business and be entrepreneurial. Most likely the path will also force you to take steps towards meeting new people and finding where investors, developers and entrepreneurs hang out. Whatever needs to be done, will be done. That is of course if your desire is truly unstoppable.
It is not about kinda-wanting to be successful and kinda-liking your start-up. It is about being the magic ingredient of your own success. So in short, the formula to success (Or rather, maximum probability of success) is:
Startup Success = You + Unstoppable Desire.
Once you have that, you will do what it takes to find and gather the other essential (not magic) ingredients around you.
As a cliff note, check out the video below. Normally I do not like motivational speakers much, but this video seems to be a good fit:
Strategy is Dead: Get S**T Done Instead
This post originally appeared on ArcticStartup.com during our “strategy days” at the company.
So we decided to
Why are there so many useless start-ups?
The other day we were talking with Tina Aspiala, creator of eat.fi, about the state of the world start-up