10 Tips to Beat the Odds as an Entrepreneur

Creating a product or service that has the right market fit is like finding the right combination to a lock where the right combination changes on a regular basis.

It is NBA playoff season. For a senior in high school, the odds of even getting into the NBA, let alone making it to a playoff game, are .03%.

Let's face it. Whether you are a physician technopreneur, an educational entrepreneur, an intrapreneur, or a social entrepreneur, the odds are stacked against you. Ninety percent of startups fail. One thousand new companies get venture capital funding every quarter. Hundreds of startups from business plan competitions and accelerators never see the light of day. Managers are waiting in the woods to kill your ideas that threaten the cash cow and the status quo, banning you to committee hell where your ideas will die a slow, agonizing, strategized, analyzed, marginalized death. The warning light should go off when you are told to write a business plan or there is silence on the other end of the phone when you ask how much is in the budget to support your ideas.

So what to do? Use the end-around. Figure out how to open the back door, not the front. But, before you do, be careful about:

1. Telling truth to authority.

2. Asking for forgiveness instead of permission.

3. Thinking you can succeed doing the same thing the same way others did and failed.

4. Competing with big incumbents instead of playing in the white space.

5. Bootstrapping your venture.

6. Being penny wise and pound foolish by skimping on paying for advice and counsel.

7. Not having Plan B when someone who is not in your circle of trust discovers you are trying to innovate.

8. Thinking you can do it by yourself.

9. Prematurely launching or rolling out your idea before you have proof of concept.

10. Suffering from innovation ischemia, where you have scaled too quickly and have outgrown your blood supply. Seed stage or grants are one thing. Without a VAST business model, the toes on your idea will start to turn black.

Creating a product or service that has the right market fit is like finding the right combination to a lock where the right combination changes on a regular basis. However, finding that right combination to the lock on the back door instead of the front opens many doors to the same opportunities and, many times, you will have succeeded before anyone knows you are even in the house.