History remembers only the winners - fools end up on its archives. The best example of this is Ron Wayne. He was the now forgotten partner of two famous Steves - Jobs and Wozniak. The difference between them was small, yet crucial: Jobs and Wozniak believed that their Startup would achieve greatness and because of that they had a great impact on the fate of IT. Wayne didn’t have enough faith.
The Founders of Apple
Ronald Wayne was the owner of 10% of shares in Apple. However, in 1976 (almost at Apple’s peak moment) he doubted his company, so being afraid it would fail he decided to sell his shares for… 800 dollars. If he had waited for 6 more years, today he would be a billionaire - the value of his shares pack today would be 35 billion dollars. Nobody believes in Wayne’s assurance that he doesn’t regret his decision. Thanks to his move he has gained himself a place in the list of worst business decisions ever made worldwide. His approach can truly represent the metaphor of one of the most foolish decisions that startup founders can make. There are at least three more crucial errors entrepreneurs often make.
Flash in the Pan
Often Startup founders jump from one ”genius idea” to a next “even better one”.Their initiative usually ends up with a non-implemented idea and their first approach to carry it out fails when it meets its first market obstacles.
Stubbornness is sadly one of the rare qualities found in modern entrepreneurs. More often they show short lived enthusiasm while the important thing is to be truly loyal to your idea. A great example showing this is the story of Rovio Entertainment, a mobile game developer which achieved success only after its 52nd published game - Angry Birds. Stubbornness pays off even if you meet lots of obstacles and seem to be constantly failing on your way to the top.
Kurt Theobald is one person who tested this theory on his own skin. In the last 5 years he has founded as much as 10 Startups. Although all of them failed he didn’t give up and by using all his strength he founded another e-commerce business - “Classy Llama”. The idea turned out to be a great success and throughout a couple of months it ended up on Inc’s magazine list of 500 of the fastest growing Startups in USA, while his income is estimated to be over 3 billion dollars. One can’t help but ask what if Theobald had given up and listened his critics who adviced him to look for luck out of the startup industry, or if he hadn’t even given a chance to his idea?
Baron Münchaussen’s complex
What about the fact that Theobald has achieved success all by himself? This bring us to the next issue which is the fact that young entrepreneurs often think that they can achieve greatness all by themselves which can be a representation of Baron Münchausen’s complex.
According to one of his stories Baron Münchausen during one of his trips fell in a swamp with his horse and managed to take himself out of it by pulling his own collar. Sounds implausible? Well, achieving success all by yourself, without building a team and seeking the advice of more experienced entrepreneurs is equally dubious.
Seeking the „ideal product”
The next mistake is always pursuing the “ideal product”. It usually happens to startups that have been on the IT market for a while.
Too much perfectionism can be as dangerous as launching an unfinished product. Those who have some experience with startups, advise to always find something in between. What you need is a minimum viable product (MVP) which you can later work on. To be more precise it is an application prototype, with the minimal required functionality designed strictly to examine how the market reacts to your idea. It is the perfect tool to test if your product will make it without taking the risk of losing a big investment.
Being innovative in the IT business also means you’ll have to be able to launch a product knowing that it will still need to be refined. If Zuckenberg, Thiel, Parker or Pincus - the fathers of four spectacular and innovative solutions in the IT industry were afraid of entering the market and waited with their launch till the moment their product was perfect – they would lose a big chance right at the beginning of their journey.
Don’t be like Ron Wayne
Ron Wayne gained his success indirectly. He has been investing in gold for quite some time now. In interviews he claims it is a good business due to its stability. However it seems he will always be perceived as the guy who let his one lifetime chance slip away. I think it’s safe to say Ron Wayne portrays the anti-entrepreneurial spirit.
If we divided businessmen into those who prefer a rather calm stable environment and those who aren’t afraid to take a big risk in order to achieve greatness, Ron Wayne would have to be classified into the first group. In the second one we would find modern Startup founders and entrepreneurs since they are the ones who live by 3 simple rules somewhat unfamiliar to traditional business – “have faith, be brave and keep workin'”.