Starting a company is no big feat. To be honest, almost anyone with access to a few common resources can launch a new business in a matter of hours (minutes, for some). However, creating a massively successful startup that becomes a megacorporation (generating hundreds of millions to billions of dollars with healthy profit margins and competing head-to-head with industry giants) is something else entirely. .
Bluntly speaking, most self-proclaimed entrepreneurs will not do what it takes to create such an entity.
It has very little to do with intelligence, mediocre credentials, or limited connections; There are simply some sacrifices and investments that most entrepreneurs are not willing to make. In case you’re wondering what separates the good entrepreneurs from the ultra victorious, these are the steps that will probably prevent you from reaching that elite level of 0.01% success.
And yes, I corroborated this roadmap with my $500M+ friend who “singlehandedly” built one of the fastest-growing public companies in his industry, so this isn’t just an opinion informed by observation, but rather a proven playbook (with multi-billion dollar results).
I’m not saying it’s impossible to create mega startups at age 20… but most of those who try are at a disadvantage. It has nothing to do with immaturity, limited financial resources, or a lack of contacts acquired over decades. Rather it has to do with two factors: time and patience.
I’m not talking about the time or patience a founder is willing to devote to his or her burgeoning company. We can all fall in love with our “next big thing” and spend 25 hours a day working on it, determined to do “whatever it takes” to make it successful.
Here’s the problem: sometimes “whatever it takes” is beyond the scope of our capabilities due to the lack of time we’ve had to learn, experiment, and master our industry—that is, unless you’ve been working hard since the preadolescence.
Compare my friend (“George”), who made $500 million and founded his largest company (now publicly traded) after two decades of dominating his industry, engaging with stakeholders in every key function, and knowing enough aspects to see the real holes.
Creating a multimillion-dollar company wasn’t an accident on George’s part, but it also didn’t come from a desperate desire to be a founder.
George was – and remains – an incredibly curious person, and has spent his entire career questioning the status quo and seeking opportunities to improve it. That, by the way, is the definition of the entrepreneurial spirit: It is not someone who wants to “be his own boss” or “work from anywhere”; is someone who meticulously and continually looks for inefficiencies (or poor products, services, or systems) and ways to improve them.
A twenty-something invariably has much less time to master, study or research a sector, discipline, product or service from within. Therefore, for a twenty-something to take on someone like my friend George, he will have to compensate for his lack of experience with a holistic study of the industry that few will have the patience to master.
The thing is, it’s incredibly difficult to make up 20 years of experience in a one-month crash course, but a founder hoping to make a billion-dollar splash should expect that someone on his core team – if not himself – will have to chip in. that supreme experience in the sector.
I mentioned that my friend George spent decades studying his industry firsthand, looking for holes, and looking for innovations to improve those deficiencies. Along those lines, the second way most of today’s young founders go wrong is by not actually improving the current household names running their respective industries.
A $2, $10, or even $20 million company can be built with a good brand image, a large social media following, and a good marketing budget around a useful product or service. However, you’re unlikely to build the next Home Depot if you don’t make significant, marked improvement along with innovation in the home improvement industry.
In other words, too many founders are building companies for the sake of freedom and the lure of quick money, but fail (or neglect) to innovate or improve anything material in their industries.
The third flaw that holds back startup success (and keeps them in the millions, not billions) is the propensity to rely on shortcuts.
The explosion of artificial intelligence, automation and cheap outsourced labor has only exacerbated this business trap. In the name of technology, forward thinking, efficiency, and hyperscalability, many founders (I’ve been guilty of this myself) have chosen speed over quality, and many of their startups have suffered the consequences.
While building cost-effective, automated systems is a great strategy for scaling, it should not replace the human input, expertise, and meticulous detail that often goes into building the first iteration of a world-changing company.
The world doesn’t need another circle of AI-powered digital clone companies that contribute very little to the conversation. Shortcuts can help you scale, but they shouldn’t replace the most crucial stages of a startup’s infancy.
The fourth misstep that plagues the journeys of many young startup founders is a combination of ego and impatience: What my friend George had, and that so few new founders possess, is a confluence of humility and boldness.
He had the humility and patience to readily accept that it could be decades before his new company revolutionized the industry.
For context, George’s startup took almost five years to gain significant traction and another five before achieving exponential growth. At the same time, George had the audacity (or the relentless drive and unwavering faith) to climb that mountain anyway, even though industry headlines with megaphones were shouting that his innovation would never work.
In case you were one of the few aspiring founders who beat the odds and mastered steps 1-4 of the $500M formula, chances are you’re still not enough to reach that 9- or 10-figure mark. and become a great industry disruptor like George. Here’s why:
As a proud solopreneur (who has also worked with startups led by co-founders and backed by traditional investors and advisory boards), I hate to admit this limitation, but it’s the truth: when it comes to disrupting an industry and building the “Home Depot” of your space, can rarely be achieved alone.
If you simply want financial freedom and the title of “entrepreneur,” there are better paths than aiming to shake up an industry and create a new household name. If you have 9+ figure aspirations, achieving them will likely require you to attract big industry players and influencers to join your team to gain significant credibility, accelerate growth, and gain significant market share. .
Simply put, no, you’re probably not enough, and reaching George’s $500 million-plus net worth requires recognizing and leaning into it from the beginning. George created his board of directors before creating the monetization system of his company, and it was not by mistake.
Achieving financial independence through successful startups versus George’s $500+ million level of achievement are two very different things. You don’t have to want to be an industry disruptor, recruit a board of directors, or make a significant, historic mark in your industry.
If you simply want to be self-sufficient enough to maintain 100% control, savvy enough to leverage your own resources, and agile enough to progress quickly under your own power, then creating a public company like George probably isn’t your best bet. option.
George’s business career didn’t really start until he was 40 and peaked in his late 50s… so if you’re still kicking, there’s still time to make up your mind.
For now, build the company that best suits you and keep in mind that not all of us have to be – nor want to be – CEOs who respond to shareholders. Corporate anonymity has advantages that people like George can’t recover, so choose your path wisely, but keep in mind that there is always room to pivot.