Date: Thursday , September 18, 2014
While I have been pondering over the concept of randomness and it's applicability to my own entrepreneurial journey, more often than not, I find myself reflecting and coming to conclusion that perhaps, many events were just an act of randomness that kept happening. When you see successful people with extra-ordinary degrees of success, it is easy to attribute their success to a master grand plan. If you talk to them, most of them may say that it was pure luck, whether it may mean perfect timing or some chance occurrence. What more often occurs is that you stumble upon the person or idea that leads to the opportunity without any specific intentions. The key ingredient, then, could be is to raise your likelihood by opening yourself to new opportunities that may randomly show up at your door. The way to make it happen is by becoming alert, opening yourself to noticing new events and even participating in networking events you would not otherwise do. By doing things you normally do not even think of doing could have you stumble upon something valuable by following your instincts. This may lead you to the possibility that seemingly such random ideas, things, even people and places may converge to create new opportunities for you. As you become more and more aware, more and more of these opportunities potentially show up and more easily and intuitively you tend to recognize them. While you begin to think about this concept around randomness and applying it to your entrepreneurial journey, here are four key take away (4KTA) points based upon my experiences around it.
1. Meaning or Noise
If you notice closely on what happens on a daily basis in your startup is nothing but a series of random events. The question is if the randomness that you observe, could it be a meaningful signal or just a noise? On a small time horizon, you may not notice significant variation. You may think it is a signal whereas it could be sheer noise. As we become so wrapped up in our startups, it affects our emotional well-being taking us through daily highs and lows. It is utterly important to be in tune with what\'s happening in your startup so you can detect if it is just a signal or noise. Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks in his book, Fooled by Randomness, \"The wise man listens to meaning; the fool only gets the noise.\" Every startup deals with a massive amount of uncertainty and randomness every day. There\'s a lot of noise to wade through, and not much signal. Even getting your first customer today probably does not mean much for your long-term prospects as it could be a purely random coincidence. This may not be indicative of exact product-market fit or the size of the opportunity that you may have in front of you. How do you create meaning out of it like that \"Aha\" Moment? These Aha! Moments can possibly be created by taking a break from your complete focus on one thing. Become aware of your environment around by seeing it closely and connect with the possibilities around it. When we focus on one thing only, we tend to discard everything around it. Take time to explore and use insights gained from other fields, environments, subjects, cultures and places. Become ferociously curious so you pay attention to your intuition more and more allowing serendipity to happen. Reject the most obvious path so you can seek random and unpredictable choices.
2. Risk vs. Rewards
Unless you develop a mindset of exploring and taking calculated risks, you may not discover what you may be missing or more precisely what you may not be learning. On the other hand, if you open yourself to seeing around, you could stumble upon something that leads to a huge opportunity turning into a huge reward. One way to do this is to think of all kinds of risks that are acceptable to you that others tend to avoid. Remember the Nike ad, \"Just do it\". Here is an excellent and inspiring quote from Michael Bloomberg to remember, \"Being an entrepreneur is not really about starting a business. It\'s a way of looking at the world: seeing opportunity where others see obstacles, taking risks when others take refuge.\"
3. External Factors
There would be times when some external factors unexpectedly may show up beyond that can allow for events and actions to change, build and propagate in myriad ways. Any unexpected surprises in your way that pop up can be an opportunity to move your strategy in a direction more fruitful than you had ever imagined. Perhaps, you even had no idea about it. It is important for you to begin to notice the momentum and intensity of certain forces and the factors occurring around your startup or your product and services. Find a way to leverage it and enhance on them if they are working in your favor.
An effective approach is to experiment right away, discard it if it fails and continue to refine it rather than spending several hours in conference room meetings with theoretical and intellectual brainstorming sessions or intellectual highs as I call it. By this approach of continuous experimentation, you can keep discarding the approaches not working and continue to experiment until you find the one that works. Having the humility to accept that approach is not working and willingness to rapidly iterate and change course is more fruitful than a long drawn decision making process. It is important to get everyone\'s opinions about what should be tried and tested. However, you need to make up your mind quickly and test the idea. This eventually would lead to one of those random breakthroughs. Consider the example of the Wright brothers who did not just wake up one day and built a flying plane. They tested and tested dozens of wing designs and different types of engine. I am sure it was a grueling multi-year process of incremental refinements that lead to a flying plane.
In summary, the four key take away points for using the randomness to create success for your startup are to understand whether it is meaningful or just a noise signal, what are risks vs. rewards, paying attention to external factors and finally, continuous experimentation of your approaches.
The author is Co-Founder of AURISS TECHNOLOGIES INC., a serial entrepreneur and Board Member, Chair - Programs, The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) organization, based in Silicon Valley, CA. Learn more at www.4KTA.com and follow Naveen on twitter @Naveen_4KTA