Success Requires Luck

I've concluded that successful "makers" have one thing in common: luck.

It's not that strategy and vision don't play a role in success, but nobody — literally nobody — can guarantee that a product or service will be successful. Think about some of the major corporations that launched new products, throwing tens of millions of dollars into research, development, and marketing, only to see their best efforts flop.*

Even if you have the right idea and the right strategy, the timing is hard to get right. Too soon and nobody appreciates your genius. Too late and somebody's already eaten your lunch. There are simply too many variables to account for.

Is there skill involved in being successful? Of course. Will connections and capital encourage success? Undoubtedly. But we shouldn't underestimate the one thing that can make or break our every attempt at success, and we shouldn't feel disenchanted when our attempt to get a piece of the pie fails.

At the end of the day, success requires luck.

So every time you see a post from somebody riding the wave of their success, take it with a grain of salt. There may be tidbits of good advice baked in, but it usually lacks context and their advice can just as easily misdirect you from what might make your attempt successful.

Then how do you guarantee success? Generally speaking, you can't.** However, you can increase your odds by following one simple rule. You may have heard your parents tell you this when you were little:

If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.

The one piece of advice I will leave you with — which is useful both in and out of the business world — is to simply learn from your mistakes.

Oh, and good luck!

*What I like about this post is that it spans many decades and shows how large companies even outside of the tech industry are prone to failure.

**Bear in mind that success is relative. Large MRRs and big exits sound appealing, but would you consider $10M in the bank a success? Most of you will say "yes," but what if it comes at the expense of your happiness? Will having a lot of money make you feel successful if, for example, your family falls apart because you devote your life to making it? The definition of success is different for all of us.