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Successful entrepreneurs

Research shows that successful entrepreneurs follow the same 5 principles.

Professor in entrepreneurship Saras Sarasvathy set out to find the DNA of the successful entrepreneur. In her comprehensive research she did not find any common DNA strings among the many interviewed entrepreneurs; they all had very different personalities.

What she found though, was a set of principles they all followed. Successful entrepreneurs use the means available to guide them to success.

The means can be described in 5 principles:

1) Bird-in-hand principle

When the best entrepreneurs set out to build a new business, they start with their available means. What cards do you have to play with? It does not matter if they are good or bad. You have what you have and you take it from there.

The means you set out with are:

  • Who you are - your personality. Are you introvert or extrovert, a nice guy or a pain in the ass? A perfectionist like Steve Jobs or a relaxed guy like Mogens Thomsen?
  • What you know - your education, work experience, spare time activities and knowledge from books and YouTube
  • Whom you know - family, schoolmates, former colleagues and the ones you have not met yet

2) Affordable loss principle

It is often said that real entrepreneurs take big economic risks in order to win big - or lose big, but the most successful entrepreneurs limit risks by understanding what they can afford to lose at each step, instead of seeking large all-or- nothing opportunities.

Instead of borrowing money to produce 10 products at a time they produce one product, start selling, earn money and then produce product number two.

3) Crazy Quilt principle

When a prosperous entrepreneur does not have the resources he needs, he seeks partners. He takes in partners early on in the venture as a way to fill gaps and reduce uncertainty. Partners can be family and friends and people he meets on the way or seek out for strategic purposes.

The website - - was originally written in English, but then a guy from Paraguay asked in an e-mail why it was not found in Spanish and together we made it in Spanish. The same thing happened with the French and Portuguese edition.

The Chinese edition was made in cooperation with a former colleague who has a consultancy in China.

4) Lemonade principle

A successful entrepreneur knows that the future is uncertain and in a split second everything can change. Instead of making plans for the worst case scenario, embrace change and make the best of it.

Often, an unexpected incidence can be absorbed in your company and used as a stepping stone to innovate and make better products.

The Americans use the term "Make Lemonade", when faced with a bad situation. By this they mean, that you will have to find a good solution if you are suddenly faced with a sour lemon, which cannot be eaten. The solution may be to sprinkle the lemon with sugar, pour water and you get nice lemonade.

5) Pilot-in-the-plane principle

Most people want to control their own lives; it also applies to successful entrepreneurs. The 4 other principles are used to increase control over one´s life as an entrepreneur.

When you work based on your own resources, you will corporate with people you have chosen to work with, not invest more than you can afford to lose and see obstacles as opportunities. Working like this you have a better chance of controlling your own life.

At least you´d have a much better chance than if you had to manage resources controlled by external sources.

This principle can be described as if you were the pilot of your own plane (your business). You decide the course and you steer clear of the immediate threats, around thunderstorms and ash clouds. You never fly higher than you should, and you always keep an eye out, should you need to, for a possible landing space. 

You can do it

As you can read above most people can become an entrepreneur even though they do not have a clear goal and resources to back it up. Start your journey in the world of entrepreneurs with the birds you have in your hand. Make them fly somehow and see where they take you.

You will meet 1000 challenges but solve them one at a time. Find partners with resources, implement new ways of approaching the problem and break down expenses to affordable bites.

Source: Professor Saras Sarasvathy,

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