The formula to success can be found in the famous "Parable of the Sower" in the Bible. It shows there are 3 ways to fail and only one way to success. The failures are due to missing the opportunity, overcame by obstacles, distracted by seemingly better opportunities. The only way to success is to learn and make progress one step at a time till the end.Reference: Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15
Key verses Mark 4:14-20 The farmer sows the word.
- Some people are like seeds along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
- Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
- Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
- Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.”
While the right interpretation of the seed is the Word of Good News, we can use it to represent an opportunity. The four reactions represent the ways people handle the opportunity. We can see the four reactions as follows:
- Missing the Opportunity - Fail to see the Potential:
Many people hear or see the opportunity. But they fail to listen carefully and see the business opportunity and value in it. Hence they let them pass by. In Wozniak: 'I begged HP to make the Apple I. Five times they turned me down.‘ we see HP failed to see the business potential whereas Steve Jobs did not. There were many startups from staff who left their employers because they did not see the potential. e.g. Tandom from HP etc.
- Overcome by Problems and Obstacles.
Starting any new business is difficult. There are many problems to be solved. Some are technical and some are cash flows. It is important not to be caught in the bleeding edge where you have to refine the technology and/or educate the market such that you run out of cash before it could be a viable product/service. It is better to be at the leading edge where you can focus on using proven technology to build valuable products/services where customers can easily appreciate their value.
- Distracted by Seemingly Better Opportunity.
A startup could be easily distracted by a customer who gave a large order. It could leave its original mission and become just a subcontractor to build the product for this one large customer rather than a common product for the larger market.
- Learn and Make Progress a step at a time:
The only way to succeed is to learn and make progress quickly in small continued steps. Product development and Customer development should occur concurrently according to Steve Blank. Learn in quick steps by coming out with the MVP Minimum Viable Product according to Eric Ries' Lean Startup. See also Seven Easy Steps to Great Success According to Lao Zi. Only by staying focused and in persistent learning to make improvements can we eventually make it --- bearing fruits 30 times, 60 times, and 100 times.
Here is an illustration:
Lim Liat (c) 22 March 2019