LIL 2013: The Start Up Playbook

This afternoon at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local, David Kidder, serial entrepreneur, angel investor and author of the “Start-up Playbook” offered some tips that separate the truly great entrepreneurs from the also-rans. Some of his advice includes:

* Don’t do things you aren’t good at.

*Focus. Do a few things well, not everything poorly.

* Build pain killers, not vitamins. People will cling to pain killers. Vitamins are elective.

* To unseat an incumbent you must be 10X better. Incrementally better is a path to nowhere.

Kidder cited tips from some of the entrepreneurial rock stars he profiles in his book.

Elon Musk (Tesla). One of Musk’s key lessons is never engage in wishful thinking. Have a trust but verify approach to everything. The founder needs to be fully engaged.

Steve Blanks is a Stanford professor and expert on how to scale a mass market company. He believes entrepreneurship can be taught. Build only from core expertise. First convince yourself, then your team, then the market.

Jay Walker (Priceline founder) advocates “Think — aim, aim, ready, fire.” Recognize the complexity of all things. Talk to people close and far from your problem.

Kidder said it typically takes three years to figure out what business you are in. Rarely do you jump to the billion dollar curve. Billion dollar outcomes are mostly luck. Hard work produces singles and doubles which are very successful businesses. The billion dollar home runs are largely about luck.

Part of the entrepreneur’s job is to be agile enough to capitalize on luck when it comes their way.

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