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The role of luck in entrepreneurial ventures*

Updated: May 17, 2021

So, you ask: what role does luck play in the success of my venture?

Ask any successful entrepreneur whether she attained extraordinary success after having stuck it out in the early years, treating life (as an entrepreneur) as "...a series of hands well played..." or whether she searched for that single (elusive) winning hand, the one that would make or break her company?

Chances are that it is the former. Why? Probably because there is a huge compounding effect when you treat life as a series of "lucky breaks".

However, if you believe that life comes down to a single stroke of good fortune, odds are (of course) 50/50 that you lose that single hand dealt to you.

“Bad luck can kill you, but good luck cannot make you great" says Jim Collins in Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0.

What really matters is staying in the game and being consistent over the long haul.

How are you going to play this hand, and the next-and every hand after that one?

Collins refers to the paradox of luck and explains that "those who build great companies believe that luck won't determine their ultimate achievement and contribution.

They accept full responsibility for creating their own fate. But once they’ve attained extraordinary success, they write back luck into their own story, recognizing the role it played.”

And why is important to credit the role that luck played?

“If you err on the side of crediting some of your success to luck, rather than your own brilliance, you continue to work hard to improve.”

Take away:

Keep at it, day in, day out, week in, week out (and yes) year in, year out. See each lucky break as a hand well-played, stay humble and keep on striving to improve yourself and the company you founded. Who knows? Lady Luck may just keep on smiling….

(*Adapted from the book co-authored by Jim Collins, Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0 Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company)

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