Big, hairy and audacious : Which company should I start?

From the three identified factors/criteria that an entrepreneur could use to select a venture, we discussed applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to identify and size up the market. I’ve always been fascinated by the bigness of an idea and its impact. I’ve come to learn/realize that bigness is actually important (almost indispensable).

  1. What are you most passionate about (and where can you add value)?
  2. Ask Maslow: Which need in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is your idea addressing?
  3. How BIG, HAIRY and AUDACIOUS is your idea?

If we at some of the visions of super-successful entrepreneurs, they’ve always strived to tackle big, hairy and audacious pursuits. Bill Gates wanted to put a computer on every desk, while Henry Ford strived to make cars affordable for everyone. That word "every" makes all the difference.The grandness of the vision is not only stimulating for you as an entrepreneur, it ends up serving as a magnet for talent. As an entrepreneur you want super smart people to join you and smart folks are not easily excited by mediocre visions or mediocre entrepreneurs striving to solve a small problem. Smart people always want to work on big hard problems. So by selecting a big, hairy and audacious venture will significantly increase your chances of attracting smart people to join you.

Second advantage of selecting a hard problem is that it gives you more time-advantage over larger competitors. One of my favorite entrepreneurs/thinkers – Paul Graham explains it the best in his essay on wealth and encourages entrepreneurs to deliberately seek harder problems.

"Use difficulty as a guide not just in selecting the overall aim of your company, but also at decision points along the way. At Viaweb one of our rules of thumb was run upstairs. Suppose you are a little, nimble guy being chased by a big, fat, bully. You open a door and find yourself in a staircase. Do you go up or down? I say up. The bully can probably run downstairs as fast as you can. Going upstairs his bulk will be more of a disadvantage. Running upstairs is hard for you but even harder for him."

It has always worked. When you have two ideas to start a company, choose the Big, hairy and audacious idea.

let’s think in terms of miles and not inches.


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