Friday, May 25, 2012

More Like One Out of a Million


How does entrepreneurship relate to Dumb and Dumber?  Tyler Prochnow, managing partner of Think Big Partners will tell you.  

Lloyd: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me... ending up together? 
Mary: Well, Lloyd, that's difficult to say. I mean, we don't really... 
Lloyd: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances? 
Mary: Not good. 
Lloyd: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred? 
Mary: I'd say more like one out of a million. 
Lloyd: So you're telling me there's a chance... *YEAH!* 

I’m 45 years old and the father of two teenagers, one who just got his driver’s license, and feeling a little old these days.  Needless to say, as I start to take stock of my life, I’m beginning to wonder when I’m ever going to grow up.  I still love cartoons, the Three Stooges (the originals), and fart jokes.  So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I sometimes find inspiration in the strangest of places.  Like the sage wisdom from Jim Carey in the movie Dumb & Dumber quoted above.

As a repeat entrepreneur (I hate the terms serial entrepreneur), I’m often asked what it takes to create a successful startup.  After running through the stock answers of great ideas, tireless efforts, sufficient capital and flawless execution, I sometimes shock my audience noting that I also believe a key ingredient is a delusional attitude.  I think Lloyd Christmas might have made an excellent entrepreneur (although his idea for starting a store selling worm farms needs a little work).  Not because he was smart, or willing to outwork his peers.  No.  Lloyd ignored the odds.

The most successful entrepreneurs I know are all like Lloyd in one key way.  When faced with the odds stacked against them, they simply push forward assuming they are the one.  If someone tells a founder that the odds of success are one in a million, the best startups assume that there are 999,999 other startups out there that are destined to fail.  These are the same delusional people (I’m one of them) that are honestly surprised when they don’t win the Powerball.

Don’t get me wrong.  Not having a clear grasp on reality is a major red flag.  You need to have a very fundamental understanding of your company, your product or service, your market and the fundamental business principals that are necessary for growth.  But when it comes to assessing your chances of success, as long as there is a one in a million shot, why shouldn’t you be the one?

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