Somehow, I keep having this conversation with friends & acquaintances. Maybe it's because I've been through several (failed) startups myself. Maybe it's simply because I live in San Francisco and everyone here dreams about their brilliant idea that's going to make them a million dollars.
I like to throw cold water on those ideas, not because I'm a curmudgeon (although I am), or because I know better (although I do). I do it for one simple reason: you need to identify your impediments if you want to succeed. If your brilliant idea requires an ingredient that you don't have, you need to realize that, and then go get it.
But it turns out I'm not the first person to think about such things. In fact, there's a well-respected trio of essays from famous people in Silicon Valley who have written at length about exactly what it takes to succeed here. I'm sharing these here, for the next time someone tells me about their Big Idea:
- Paul Graham: “How to Start a Startup”
- Steven Blank: “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”
- Eric Ries: “The Lean Startup”
- Bonus: Sam Altman: "Manifest Destiny"
If you're nursing a Big Idea, consider this your first test: Are you willing to invest in the time it takes to read a few articles about how to succeed at what you're trying to do, written by people who know what they're talking about? If the answer is "yes," then you're on the right track.