The "Three T's" of Starting a Business

Travis Lindsay, Entrepreneur in Residence, Cal State Fullerton Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Startup Incubator
Travis Lindsay, Entrepreneur in Residence, Cal State Fullerton Center for Entrepreneurship and CSUF Startup Incubator

What is it, exactly, that separates successful entrepreneurs form those that are less successful?

It’s a loaded question and any honest answer comes replete with a healthy amount of caveats but it’s still a very valid question as well. And this was the question that Chris McCarthy, the Social Media Specialist for Mihaylo College, asked me. He was kind enough to videotape my answer, and it is below, but if you like reading more then here’s the short answer.

Based off of my experiences of working closely with entrepreneurs and business owners for years now is that three of the most important factors that determine an entrepreneurs success are:

  • Tenacity
  • Team
  • Timing

As Chris and I discussed, the importance of those three factors fluctuates depending on the situation but those factors keep on popping up in all of the examples I can think of.

Tenacity is pretty self explanatory. Either you have the drive or you don’t. And tenacity is different from passion. Passionate people can end up having a lot of tenacity as long as their amount of passion does not wane. But it inevitably does wane; it at least fluctuates. People who have the tenacity to work hard consistently have a higher chance of being successful entrepreneurs than those that do not have that quality.

Team is another one that some people, especially first time entrepreneurs, overlook. I’m not going to go into the psychology of why people overlook the importance a strong team can make but the best explanation I have ever heard about why teams are important goes something like this: If you, as the founder, can create $1,000,000 worth of value a year that is the most you will ever make if you continue on as the sole person in the company. As you add people into your company’s capacity for creating value increases as well; which will hopefully end in higher revenues and, fingers crossed, more profitability as well. Regretfully, I cannot remember who first made this argument to me but it has stuck with me since and it does make a whole lot of sense to me.

Timing is tricky and it’s unforgiving. If your timing is too early your market will never materialize; if you’re too late then somebody else will grab hold of the market and won’t want to give it up without a fight. There are things that you can do to time the market, and you should absolutely do things like researching potential markets, understanding who your competitors are and what substitutes for your product and service already exist, etc. And these are things that the CSUF Consulting program and the CSUF Startup Incubator works with clients to figure out. But you can never be sure that your timing will be perfect. At a certain point you have to trust in your plan and launch.

There’s obviously more to it than that for each of those “T’s” and there are many other factors that go into the success or failure of an entrepreneurial endeavor. In fact, if you have any you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. I’m interested in finding out what you think about this.


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