Startups – Think Like Serial Entrepreneurs
Serial entrepreneurs are the types that start multiple businesses. They become accustomed to the topography of the markets they deal in, and launch businesses and ventures based on data, experience, timing and trends. They tend to have more defined goals and a better network community, which as we know can be everything.
As the entrepreneurial rush continues, we’ll continue to see more and more of these types of entrepreneurs in addition to portfolio entrepreneurs, and more soon to emerge originals. Trained capitalists of sorts – like historic merchant privateers who staked out profitable trade routes.
In 2008, Harvard Business Review published a working paper – I have reposted this paper at my zine/ weblog. In abstract: “This paper presents evidence of performance persistence in entrepreneurship. We show that entrepreneurs with a track record of success are much more likely to succeed than first-time entrepreneurs and those who have previously failed. In particular, they exhibit persistence in selecting the right industry and time to start new ventures. Entrepreneurs with demonstrated market timing skill are also more likely to outperform industry peers in their subsequent ventures. This is consistent with the view that if suppliers and customers perceive the entrepreneur to have market timing skill, and is therefore more likely to succeed, they will be more willing to commit resources to the firm. In this way, success breeds success and strengthens performance persistence.”
Entrepreneurs often jump into ventures head first. And while you should be enthusiastic, you also need to be discerning. It depends on what you’re going after, but all business requires planning. You have to be strategic. Unfortunately, it’s a rather common situation to hear a story about an entrepreneur’s experience going south – they lost everything and went back to whatever previous job they had. Things go south, situations implode because of management practices and preset ideas. There are also acts of nature and economic lulls. Nothing is ever certain. And there is always another channel that needs development or another aspect that needs to be refined.
I find that ideas and ventures are a good tool for brain exercises and troubleshooting. Startups come from ideas, but ideas mean nothing unless they are managed, executed and deployed. By storing your mind maps and ideas and using them as a basis of research by (as an example) using Evernote to organize your thoughts and ventures – you should strive to create a survival of the fittest venture plan ecosystem in your own world. You should strive to thrive in the whole “no venture ever truly fails” mantra…
“Although working as a serial entrepreneur is rewarding, you must be willing to engross yourself in different industries with different people and different cultures. How business gets conducted varies. For example, my approach to my trucking companies is not the same as my approach to my real estate companies. You need to understand the culture of various industries and adapt as needed.” — Patrick Hull, Forbes.
The rewards are great, too. You never really get bored, you just have to manage yourself. You don’t have it all hanging on one idea that may not work. I was fortunate enough to watch my father build multiple middle-market companies throughout my formative years, and because of that I became a serial entrepreneur. Today I lead a portfolio of ventures and gravitate towards projects and businesses that I have a higher interest and knowledge in, or those that I wish to develop. I have tedious days, but the stakes are so much higher, you often – or at least I do – tend to overachieve and over-organize so as to limit surprises. They always happen anyway, so there is no reason to leave open space. I had to become a better organized person, and now with using tools like Evernote,Asana and my calendar I only excel with benchmarking and task management.
That is the whole point and part of the allure, to a degree. Serial entrepreneurs are accustomed to trends and have seen the ups and downs of business, thereby being able to apply a working dictionary of incidents, methods and mostly whittle down negative traits and habits to better adapt.
According to Harvard’s paper, serial entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed than first time entrepreneurs or those who have previously failed in part because serial entrepreneurs “exhibit persistence in selecting the right industry and time to start new ventures.” That would require having discipline. Lots of it. Everyone has been too early and too late.
This is a classic examples of how success breeds more success. Direction is key. So is adaptation. The study had some interesting findings about serial entrepreneurs, or as the authors called it “performance persistence in entrepreneurship.” Successful serial entrepreneurs are visionaries – really? They recognize opportunities and then they educate themselves about an industry and/or they surround themselves with a skilled team to implement their vision.
“Entrepreneurs who exhibit market timing skill in their first ventures also appear to outperform their industry peers in their subsequent ventures.” – HBS