Work vs Luck

There’s a sliding scale between work pays off and luck pays off. Depending on what you’re doing, you may be farther toward one side or the other.

Homework, at least well constructed and well assigned homework, is far on the work side. If you do ten hours of homework on what you expect to be a ten hour assignment, you should be done or close to it. Maybe not, but if not, you should be close. If I get some assignment and think ’10 hrs’, 10 hours later I should be close. Maybe it’s really a 12 hour assignment, or I chase some formula to find out I should be using a different one, but I should be close.

Starting a business is far on the other side, but certainly not pure luck. It’s more like earning coin flips. It takes me about 40 hours to submit a contract proposal, and if I don’t get it, I have nothing. I’m not 90% of the way to a new contract. I can port over about 50% for the next proposal, but that’s included in the 40 hours. They’re really about 80 hour jobbies, but I do a lot of them. The thing is, if I get no contracts, I have nothing. So think of it like earning a coin flip. To achieve some goal, pay rent, I need ten heads, and it takes me 40 hours to flip a coin. One might think that fine, that’s 20 flips for 800 hours or about 20 weeks, but that’s neglecting how big a role luck is. I could get 18 tails out of my first 20 flips, and then I still don’t have rent.

This is what entrepreneurs mean when they talk about business being somehow different. The nature of success in a startup is different from the nature of success as an employee. I don’t get to bill those 40 hours to anyone, because there’s no money there.

If I make the contracts, then I have money, and it seems to flow like water. But if I don’t, the time is wasted, and there’s just nothing there.

And my landlord needs to get paid.

It’s not harder or easier, it’s not better or worse, it’s not good or bad. It’s just different, but that different is worth keeping in mind.

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