The great South African golfer Gary Player once mused, “The harder I practice, the luckier I get.” While no amount of practice seems to improve my golf game much, I’ve found that his observation also applies to business and entrepreneurship.
In descriptions of startups that have survived and thrived, luck is one of the most misunderstood factors. Many people seem to think that whether or not a startup succeeds is something over which an entrepreneur has little control; like being struck by lightning. But anyone who wants to make the effort can and will improve their luck.
This may sound impossible, but it is about the same principle as improving the odds of lightning striking. During a thunderstorm, you can stand in a field holding a metal rod in the air, a golf club would work well. If someone tells you that he was lucky because he was in the right place at the right time, it’s likely that he decided where the right place was and made sure to be there.
Those businesses that are generally considered luckier than others are usually led by teams that are willing to take the greatest risks: They accept the consequences of failure, and carry on with their plans anyway. In contrast, entrepreneurs and business leaders who play it safe rarely seem to bring a new product to market at the exact moment that customers want it, nor do they ever seem to make that lucky connection with the right investor.
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