Salient Lessons on Entrepreneurship

I was just listening to David Heineimeier Hansson, the creator of Ruby on Rails and partner at 37signals, on the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Podcast, as he shared some interesting thoughts about entrepreneurship. David brought up some interesting entrepreneurial advice which is worth highlighting:

1) Work Smart – get plenty of rest and sleep and focus your energies on producing output that scales. You are not going to outspend or outbuild a Microsoft so focus your energies on turning an industry or a sector on its head and focus your own work around something that gives you a multiplier effect in time you put in vs. time-to-market traction.

2) Sleep – dumb entrepreneurs work day and night and then brag about it; smart ones work day jobs, do something on the side for 10 hours a week and then take that on full time when it gets traction. In fact, when you are 5X more tired, you level of effectiveness drops by 50X – it’s a multiplier effect.

3) Work within constraints– constrain the time you are willing to put in. Don’t take a college approach to business by doing anything more than is required of a particular task – that’s not working smart.

4) Don’t take venture capital, whatever your do – David was pretty adamant about the fact that venture capital is a time bomb that is strapped to your shoulders. It makes you complacent because it is not your money and at the same time it gets you hooked on the drug dealer (VC’s) so that you are jonesing for than next cash infusion. In short: build businesses that are profitable from the get-go.

5) Don’t ever plan long term (which he defined as longer than 2 months out). David argues that long term planning is flawed because how can you, in a startup environment, purport to know where the market or product will be in 1-5 years? I don’t particularly agree with this one, as I think that some long-term thought can go a long way in helping you design dynamic strategies/approaches that do not hinge on a reactionary mindset- ie) What do we do next week? This type of thinking is unfortunately indicative of the common myopia that can potentially be detrimental to the long-term growth of any business…

You can listen to the full podcast here.

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