Success, they say, is relative. What I deem as success may not be your definition of one. To some, success may mean securing funding, to others, it may be about a revenue milestone and to many, it may mean a great exit.
Individual entrepreneurs have their own meaning of success. But when you put together a number of them, there are many common traits that we see in successful entrepreneurs.
And who better than Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors to comment on this for they are the ones who work with a whole host of entrepreneurs.
Here are four top investors who define, in their own words, what it means to be a successful entrepreneur and to run a successful venture.
From the VCs point of view:
A successful venture is one that has generated good returns (>3x) for the VC and their limited partners.
A successful entrepreneur is one who has done the same for VCs, perhaps more than once.
From the Angel’s point of view:
A successful venture is one where the angel made some money, but had a huge amount of fun seeing the company grow and make an impact.
A successful entrepreneur is one who has made an angel money, or is the type likely to make money for an angel.
From the entrepreneur’s point of view:
A successful venture is one that has changed the world in some way. And even better, if somewhere along the way, the entrepreneur made money.
Successful Entrepreneur: Someone who learns from each of his ventures, successful or not, every stumble and every win teaches him something that he builds on. Someone who is ethical, aggressive, decisive and responsible – and considers his success as a measure of his delivery on the promise and faith deposed in him. Obsesses on the problem and iterates the solution – finally aiming to return the investment in him, preferably manifold.
Successful Venture: A venture that provides a return better than the industry average, in less than industry norm time and for everyone involved.
While VCs first interest may be commercial returns, Angels find more happiness in the journey!
Personally, I never go into a business, either as entrepreneur or investor, if I can’t see the Exit sign.
I also run a venture accelerator in Melbourne, Australia and participating entrepreneurs have a great time creating their businesses, learning the lean startup process, and pitching to investors all over the world. Our investors and support team have an equally great time mentoring and supporting them.
But, they are not successful (yet) …
The hard reality is that these are merely the ‘perks’ of being involved in the current tech startup movement. And, all of this fun and activity is all for naught if they don’t exit.
There are exceptions, as in everything:
- They may end up triggering a change in the way the world works (but, fail to profit commercially from it);
- They may become profitable and never sell (although, this often has a way of dis-favoring their early investors);
- There may be a ‘talent acquisition’ (which means everybody got their money back and the founders got a job).
All good and noble outcomes for the entrepreneur, but hardly a successful outcome for the investors, particularly if you are a startup that has taken VC and/or angel funding.
Adrian Stone, Co-founder, AngelCube.
A successful entrepreneur:
1. is obsessed with solving one specific problem that is important to at least some people who have the capacity and willingness to pay for it.
2. gets very close to customers to figure out what they want, based on qualitative and quantitative dats, especially actual behavior.
3. tests the market with discrete hacks before building a product or service out.
4. out-hustles, out-thinks and out-performs the competition.
5. builds a beautiful product or service that just works and can scale (meaning good codebase and software architecture).
Now, whatever success may mean to you, remember that entrepreneurship is a journey and not a destination. Find happiness in the pursuit and you will be a much happier person and a successful entrepreneur.
What does success mean to you? Do write in with your comments below.