Notes business

The Best Articles on Entrepreneurship

Table of Contents

This is a list of the best articles on entrepreneurship, that I have come across over the years.

Do Things That Don’t Scale – Paul Graham

One of the most common types of advice we give at Y Combinator is to do things that don’t scale. A lot of would-be founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. You build something, make it available, and if you’ve made a better mousetrap, people beat a path to your door as promised. Or they don’t, in which case the market must not exist.

Better than Free – Keven Kelly

“There are a number of qualities that can’t be copied. Consider “trust.” Trust cannot be copied. You can’t purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you’ll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.”

Things I’ve Learned From Ben Horowitz About Management Investing and Business – Tren Griffin and Ben Horowitz 

“The trouble with innovation is that truly innovative ideas often look like bad ideas at the time.”

How to End the Tech Culture Wars – Ben Horowitz

“[Intel CEO] Andy Grove had this great line where they asked him: Is the microprocessor good or bad? and he says, “Well, I don’t think that is the right question. It’s like asking if steel is good or bad. It just is.” Once it is invented it’s there. I think the Internet is a lot like that. It’s here.”

Why To Not Start a Startup – Paul Graham

“You may need to be moderately smart to succeed as a start-up founder. But if you’re worried about this, you’re probably mistaken. If you’re smart enough to worry that you might not be smart enough to start a start-up, you probably are.”

The Struggle – Ben Horowitz

“The Struggle is the land of broken promises and crushed dreams. The Struggle is a cold sweat. The Struggle is where your guts boil so much that you feel like you are going to spit blood.”

Questions for a New Entrepreneur – Seth Godin

“Are you trying to build profit or equity? A business that builds a brand, a footprint, a standard and an audience might end up being worth millions (witness Tumblr, which has many millions of value but zero profitability).”

So What’s Wrong? – Seth Godin

“The more I see both, the happier it appears that small business people are. They often make more money, take fewer risks, sleep better and build something for the ages, something they believe in and can polish and be proud of.”

On Managing Oneself – Peter Drucker

“We will have to learn to develop ourselves. We will have to place ourselves where we can make the greatest contribution. And we will have to stay mentally alert and engaged during a 50-year working life, which means knowing how and when to change the work we do.”

Relentlessly Resourceful – Paul Graham

“Being relentlessly resourceful is definitely not the recipe for success in big companies, or in most schools. I don’t even want to think what the recipe is in big companies, but it is certainly longer and messier, involving some combination of resourcefulness, obedience, and building alliances.”

The New Society of Organizations – Peter Drucker

“There are only three kinds of teams. One is the sort of team that plays together in tennis doubles. In that team—and it has to be small—each member adapts himself or herself to the personality, the skills, the strengths, and the weaknesses of the other member or members. Then there is the team that plays European football or soccer. Each player has a fixed position; but the whole team moves together (except for the goalie) while individual members retain their relative positions. Finally, there is the American baseball team—or the orchestra—in which all the members have fixed positions.”

Maker’s Schedule – Paul Graham

“Speculative meetings are terribly costly if you’re on the maker’s schedule.”

The Singularity is Always Near – Kevin Kelly 

“In order to reach a singularity of ever-increasing AI we have to be smart enough not only to create a greater intelligence, but to also make one that is able to create the next level one. A chimp is hundreds of times smarter than an ant, but the greater intelligence of a chimp is not smart enough to make a mind smarter than itself.”

The Four Lies Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves – Steve blank 

“At this point in my career I had hit a couple of successful startups as a low level exec, making enough to remodel our kitchen, but not the big “hit” that made us so much money I could slow down or retire.  And even if it did, startups are like a gambling addiction – if I had been honest, I would have had to admit I would probably be doing many of them.”

The Top Ten Lies of Entrepreneurs – Guy Kawasaki 

““Our projections are conservative.” An entrepreneur’s projections are never conservative. If they were, they would be $0.”

The risk of discovery – Paul Graham 

“Because biographies of famous scientists tend to edit out their mistakes, we underestimate the degree of risk they were willing to take. And because anything a famous scientist did that wasn’t a mistake has probably now become the conventional wisdom, those choices don’t seem risky either.”

Why smart people have bad ideas – Paul Graham 

“So the biggest cause of bad ideas is the still life effect: you come up with a random idea, plunge into it, and then at each point (a day, a week, a month) feel you’ve put so much time into it that this must be the idea.”

Cities & Ambition – Paul Graham 

“Maybe the Internet will change things further. Maybe one day the most important community you belong to will be a virtual one, and it won’t matter where you live physically. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The physical world is very high bandwidth, and some of the ways cities send you messages are quite subtle.”

The Difference between Freelancer and Entrepreneur – Seth godin 

“If you’re an entrepreneur, it is impossible to succeed by using your own labor to fill the gaps. That’s because your labor is finite. It doesn’t scale. If it’s a job only you can do, you’re not building a system, you’re just hiring yourself (and probably not paying enough either).”

The new society of organizations – Peter Drucker  

Throughout history, the craftsman who had learned a trade after five or seven years of apprenticeship had learned, by age eighteen or nineteen, everything he would ever need to use during his lifetime. In the society of organizations, however, it is safe to assume that anyone with any knowledge will have to acquire new knowledge every four or five years or become obsolete.

The Case for the Fat Startup – Ben Horowitz 

“What is start-up purgatory, you ask? Start-up purgatory occurs when you don’t go bankrupt, but you fail to build the No. 1 product in the space. You have enough money with your conservative burn rate to last for many years. You may even be cash-flow positive. However, you have zero chance of becoming a high-growth company. You have zero chance of being anything but a very small technology business (see Navisite). From the entrepreneur’s point of view, this can be worse than start-up hell since you are stuck with the small company.”

1000 True Fans – Kevin Kelly 

“This new ability for the creator to retain the full price is revolutionary, but a second technological innovation amplifies that power further. A fundamental virtue of a peer-to-peer network (like the web) is that the most obscure node is only one click away from the most popular node. In other words the most obscure under-selling book, song, or idea, is only one click away from the best selling book, song or idea.”

How to create a million-dollar business this weekend – Tim Ferris 

“Don’t get me wrong–I’m not opposed to you trying to build a world-changing product that requires months of fine-tuning. All I’m going to suggest is that you start with a much simpler essence of your product over the course of a weekend, rather than wasting time building something for weeks… only to discover no one wants it.”

How to Pick a Career (That Actually Fits You) – Tim Urban 

“Being a chef takes a tremendous amount of time and energy—which makes sense, because you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, you’re trying to invent it for the first time. Puzzling your way to a conclusion feels like navigating a mysterious forest while blindfolded and always involves a whole lot of failure, in the form of trial and error. Being a cook is far easier and more straightforward and less icky. In most situations, being a chef is a terrible waste of time, and comes with a high opportunity cost, since time on Earth is immensely scarce.”

The Shirky Principle – Kevin Kelly 

“The Shirky Principle declares that complex solutions (like a company, or an industry) can become so dedicated to the problem they are the solution to, that often they inadvertently perpetuate the problem.”

1000 True Fans – Kevin Kelly 

“To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.”

The Case for the Fat Startup – Ben Horowitz 

“Here is my central argument. There are only two priorities for a start-up:
Winning the market and not running out of cash. Running lean is not an end. For that matter, neither is running fat. Both are tactics that you use to win the market and not run out of cash before you do so. By making “running lean” an end, you may lose your opportunity to win the market, either because you fail to fund the R&D necessary to find product/market fit or you let a competitor out-execute you in taking the market. Sometimes running fat is the right thing to do.”

Good Product Manager, Bad Product Manager – Marc Andreesen 

“A good product manager takes full responsibility and measures themselves in terms of the success of the product. The are responsible for right product/right time and all that entails. A good product manager knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan (no excuses).”

How to Create Wealth – Paul Graham 

“Economically, you can think of a startup as a way to compress your whole working life into a few years. Instead of working at a low intensity for forty years, you work as hard as you possibly can for four. This pays especially well in technology, where you earn a premium for working fast.”

The Difference Between Freelancer and the Entrepreneur – Seth Godin  

“If you’re an entrepreneur, it is impossible to succeed by using your own labor to fill the gaps. That’s because your labor is finite. It doesn’t scale.”

Why Smart People Have Bad Ideas – Paul Graham 

“If you’re going to spend years working on something, you’d think it might be wise to spend at least a couple days considering different ideas, instead of going with the first that comes into your head. You’d think. But people don’t.”

The Risk of Discovery – Paul Graham 

“No one knew yet what the payoff would be for inventing what we now call physics; if they had, more people would have been working on it,”

The 18 Mistakes that Kill Startups

“I think this shrinking from big problems is mostly unconscious. It’s not that people think of grand ideas but decide to pursue smaller ones because they seem safer. Your unconscious won’t even let you think of grand ideas. So the solution may be to think about ideas without involving yourself. What would be a great idea for someone else to do as a startup?”

The Hardest Lessons for Startups to Learn – Paul Graham 

“By “release early” I don’t mean you should release something full of bugs, but that you should release something minimal. Users hate bugs, but they don’t seem to mind a minimal version 1, if there’s more coming soon.”

Technology Wants to be Free – Kevin Kelly 

“My current conclusion can be summarized simply: Technology wants to be free. Let me state it more precisely: Over time the cost per fixed technological function will decrease. If that function persists long enough its costs begin to approach (but never reach) zero. In the goodness of time any particular technological function will exist as if it were free.”

Hiring is Obsolete – Paul Graham 

“The most interesting subset may be those in their early twenties. I’m not so excited about founders who have everything investors want except intelligence, or everything except energy. The most promising group to be liberated by the new, lower threshold are those who have everything investors want except experience.”

How to Start a Startup – Paul Graham 

“You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.”

How to be Successful – Sam Altman 

You also want to be an exponential curve yourself—you should aim for your life to follow an ever-increasing up-and-to-the-right trajectory. It’s important to move towards a career that has a compounding effect—most careers progress fairly linearly.

What You Don’t Have To Do – Kevin Kelly 

When others are doing something like you are, let that activity go because that means you don’t have to do it! If they are stealing your ideas, ripping off your moves, knocking off your style, and they are doing it well, thank them. You’ve just learned that that assignment is something you don’t need to do because someone else can do it.

Why the Web Won’t be Nirvana – Clifford Stoll 

A classic failure in predicting the future.

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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