“World class entrepreneurs are never lucky. Néver!”

Here’s some good advice for entrepreneurs from Steve Blank, the godfather of the Customer Development process, which in turn inspired the ‘Lean Startup’ movement.

Customer Development is about getting close to your customers to understand how they work or live and what they need in order to address those needs. From a deep understanding of the needs of customers, you can develop products and services. It’s a “pull” philosophy to product development, and in that sense it’s closely related to what Eric Ries calls ‘validation’ in Lean Startup. 

Blank is also a startup mentor and an entrepreneur, and in this video, he gives some excellent advice for founders:


“World class entrepreneurs are never lucky. NEVER. It’s a big idea. You make your own luck. At a single point in time you’ll say – gee, I was just there when that happened, and when somebody just said X or Y. Over a career, you will look back and see you were never lucky.

You showed up more than other people.

You took advantage of other people more.

You raised your hand more often.

You were there more often.

You got on a plane when other people thought: naah, it’s too much of a hassle.

World class entrepreneurs do that over time, consistently. And you can tell the difference whether you’re going to make it or not. It’s when everybody says: “no, too much work” or “I gotta drive over there?” Or you have to talk to these guys?

That adds up over time in a career. You will start making your own luck, and you will find that stuff begins to come your way. Yes, this conference happened to happen – but you guys decided to go to it.

My point is: don’t ever think luck happens to other people. I want you guys to understand the distinction between just standing there and making your own  direction by making it happen.

You think people will understand the problem – will take it out of your hands. But then you realise the portion of evangelism.  You’re right: a new market turns into an existing market fairly rapidly. But at least on day one, when you’re ahead of the game with the things you need to do about evangelism, scale – it’s really different.

[spotted by Lasse Klausen][photo: JD Hancock, Flickr]

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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