This week I picked up a book, called Lucky or Smart, written by Bo Peabody. Bo was the founder of Tripod, a "user generated platform company" in today's parlance, which he sold to Lycos for $58M. At the time, Lycos fortuitively put into a lockup, against his desire, so by the time he was able to sell the stock, it had gone up 10X. I have to tell you I was skeptical as I often am with books about entrepreneurship... a skepticism which Bo shares ironically enough as he mentions in his book. But I took a whirl, as I had met Bo a couple times and I admire and respect entrepreneurs (especially ones that join the dark side and become a VC like myself!) and you know, the book was pretty damn good for 58 pages.
In a nutshell, I think he touches on some key success factors for an entrepreneur, that I mostly agree with, so I'll paraphrase:
1/ Lucky business things happen to entrepreneurs more often than average who start "fundamentally innovative, morally compelling and philosophically positive companies". This vision attracts great people, customers, partners and supporters; such companies tend to be more lucky.
2/ Entrepreneurs are made, not born.
3/ Lose the ego, be gracious at all times, the world is a very small place
4/ Know what you don't know
5/ Don't believe your own press
6/ Work very very very hard
7/ Recognize that if you are a great entrepreneur, you are likely to be a "B" student, good, but not great, at everything; so hire "A" student managers that are great at a few things to build a stellar team. As Bo puts it, "a few As and a B is a pretty good report card".
8/ Recognizing when something lucky happens and distinguishing it from skill or smarts is incredibly important part of entrepreneurship.
9/ Get used to rejection, it's part of the drill.
I can't do him credit here in a post, and don't agree with everything he says particularly the point about entrepreneurs being born vs made; I feel that entrepreneurship teachable just like salesmanship is learnable. But if you have a spare 60 minutes and want to find out for yourself whether Bo was lucky or smart, this book is worth the read. Also,it's available in audio format on audible.com and I think iTunes.com, and it's a good format for the book, a format I've taken up lately for my commutes to work.
If you have read the book or after you do, please do comment, I'd love to hear your perspective.