I thought Jack Britain, Dean of the David Eccles College of Business at the University of Utah, made some good points about entrepreneurship in his presentation that was covered in Utah Business magazine. His main point? Don’t do it.
Most people who hear that the average business owner spends 80 hours per week at work and only has a 15% chance of making their business succeed lose all desire for being an entrepreneur right there. But just as Jack says, the typical entrepreneur isn’t deterred, because they believe they’re going to be the exception. This was certainly true in my case, and I think the only thing that has prevented my firm from going out of business has been a reluctance on my part to give up. No matter what has happened during the past 6-7 years I’ve always felt that if we could just make it past a certain point then we would be ok. That has turned out to be true, although there certainly have been more of those points than I ever expected.
I found some humor in the comment “Get feedback from disinterested parties who have a mean streak and are slightly sarcastic” that Jack made. For me, that person was Joe Ollivier. When I was a student at BYU and wanted to start a business someone recommended I talk to Joe, which I’ve done many times over the years. I know people have all sorts of opinions about Joe, but I like the guy. Why? Because he’s mean to me, in a good way. That is, he tells me what he thinks of my ideas, and what he thinks generally isn’t positive. But it’s that type of feedback that helps me make my ideas better, or quit them altogether, and so why shouldn’t I be grateful? If someone tells me I have a great idea and then I go and spend two years of my life and hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars and end up losing it all because the idea was junk, what good does that do me? Who’s really the nice person? The guy who tells me something to make me feel good even though it may not be true, or the guy who points out my mistakes and prevents me from making more?