Entrepreneurship is only for the strong

“Only the strong survive” has been a popular lyric in song as well as in film script dialogues since Jerry Butler’s original release in 1968. Thephrase first appears in 1859 when Charles Darwin, an English scientist, offered a theory of evolution based on a process he called natural selection. He coined descriptions that included “struggle for existence” and “the survival of the fittest.”

The Impact of Economic Down Cycles

Observing economic down cycles like the last one we experienced in the United States in 2008 and 2009 offers a stimulating analogy. More than 1.2 million jobs disappeared in an eighteen-month period. The broadest measure of the stock market, the Wilshire 5000, plungedmore than $7 trillion, a 40 percent slide. The indicators that increased during the period includedhome foreclosures and a higher demand at food pantries.

The good news for the corporate survivors of the downturn, however, was the disappearance of competitors. Retailer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. didn’t have to contend any longer with Linens ‘N Things. Best Buy Co. won’t be engaging infuture price wars with Circuit City Stores Inc. FedEx Corp. won’t be battling for market share against DHL Express, a German-owned company that ceasedallstateside operations.

Startup Failures

The most comprehensive analysis of startup failures to date is the 2012 Startup Genome Report, a project coauthored by Berkeley & Stanford faculty members with Steve Blank and 10 startup accelerators as contributors. The report examined 3,200 high growth web and mobile startups. Within 3 years, 92% of startups failed. Of those who failed, 74% failed due to premature scaling. Premature scaling is simply spending money on marketing, hiring or other business expenses either before you found a working business model (you acquire users for less than the revenue they bring) or you spend too fast while failing to secure further needed financing.

The Likely Survivors

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, successful impresarios have five common traits:

  1. They are early risers that exhibit drive, ambition, and commitment to tackling issues in a triage format.
  2. They identify disparities or gaps in the market and create ideas to fill them.
  3. They follow through and take things full circle.
  4. They challenge the status quo. They challenge “the way it’s always been done”. Theyaren’t hesitant to try new approaches as they demand faster and better results.
  5. They are money minded and learn from the mistakes of others. Successful entrepreneurs comprehend money and are able optimize their ideas and hard work into a lucrative business.



Entrepreneur Quotes to Live By

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Thomas Edison.

“Your most unhappy clients are your greatest source of learning.” Bill Gates

“If you are afraid to fail, you are probably going to fail.” Kobe Bryant.

“F-E-A-R has two meanings: ‘Forget Everything And Run’ or ‘Face Everything And Rise.’ The choice is yours.” Zig Ziglar


Successful entrepreneurs are not governed by what others think of their ideas or their methods. They exude an impenetrable self-confidence, an overriding belief in self. They believe that if they err on the side of taking into account the perception of others, they will end up with a reality built by committee and will be unlikely to depart from the status quo and discover a way to do it better. At the same time, successful entrepreneursdon’t trample people or ignore their feelings. Instead, they demonstrate patience and empathy in dealing with those who might not share their vision, optimism, focus and drive. They inspire others rather than disparage them, because strong leaders understand the effect they have on the people around them.

Business leaders with high self-esteem have confidence in their decisions and strategies and are able to transfer that confidence to team members. Strong leaders maintain an optimistic and upbeat attitude about their direction, their company, and its employees. They know that a positive point of view attracts other talented contributors, because people like to be around strong leaders with a clear direction. When a leader can maintain focus on a goal or a solution to a setback, employees and managers focus, too. Strong leaders exhibit an ability to pursue a path to success relentlessly.