Giving advice on startups is really hard and I think this difficulty is frequently overlooked. It’s hard to advise on startups because, in the startup environment, you rarely see the same thing much more than once. To give good advice you need accurately recognise patterns, and, to accurately recognise patterns I think you need to have seen things dozens of times. In startups, where you are aiming to do something differently, it takes a very long time to see things twice – the startup environment is one where patterns take a very long time to repeat.
If advice is so hard to give, the obvious question to ask is whether entrepreneurship can be taught, and, if so, how best this could be done? For me, the first step is to focus on studying where things happen much more than once.
In this coming blog series, I’ll try to focus on startup learnings that are backed by large numbers of examples. Preferably I’ll focus on studies where large amounts of information have been carefully analysed (like Neil Rackham’s study of sales processes) and, secondly, I’ll focus on experienced entrepreneurs/investors (e.g. Thiel, Musk, Horowitz) who have a comparative advantage given the vast number of startups that they have overseen.
As you’ll see, I do think there are significant rules of thumb that can be taught to startups, but I also feel that, without further data, there are many other aspects of startups where there really is little that can be said with certainty.