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Thinking About Starting a Company? The Odds Are Against You–But You Should Do It Anyway

Now is the time to stop doubting yourself and take the leap.

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BY Eric Schurenberg - 03 Jan 2018

Thinking About Starting a Company? The Odds Are Against You--But You Should Do It Anyway

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

"Somewhere in this audience is the founder of the next Facebook, the next Google, the next Apple." So said Steve Blank, a Stanford adjunct professor and one of the brains behind the Lean Startup technique, to an auditorium full of young founders at the Web Summit in Lisbon this fall. "Which of you is it?" A few hands poked up. "The rest of you," he said, "instead of trying to be entrepreneurs, should be working for them."

Starting a company is an overt act of overconfidence. It requires willful blindness to the odds against you and a conviction--based on little or no evidence--that you are different from the vast majority of would-be entrepreneurs who've come before you. Among the young entrepreneurs whom Blank was addressing, those who kept their hands in their laps were the ones with the firmer grasp of logic and the laws of probability.

And yet. Researchers in decision science know that emotion, not logic, is the trigger to action. No amount of thinking will tell you whether your company will succeed or fail. Eventually, you just have to take the leap, and then trust that your idea--the one you feel so passionate about, you can't not try it--will be one that thrives.

If you've resolved that 2018 will be the year you stop thinking about your idea and finally take the leap, then the special report in this issue is intended for you. Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan and executive editor Kris Frieswick decided to concentrate on the crucial first 90 days of a startup's life. The actions you take out of the gate--forging your team, testing and retesting hypotheses about what your customers want, setting risk parameters with your spouse, and so on--will lay the groundwork for victory or defeat. For inspiration, you'll hear from the likes of Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, and even Steve Blank himself. You'll find a checklist of must-do tasks that will save you heartache down the road, and even a decision tree to guide you through a handful of existential, early-stage questions.

To echo Blank's challenge, maybe you, reading this issue of Inc. and steeling yourself for a leap into the unknown, will found the next Facebook or Google. The odds against it are pretty strong, to say the least. But if you don't take that leap, you'll never know, will you? There will never be a better time than now to bet on yourself. So go ahead. Change the world. We'll be with you.

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