A LinkedIn article by Bill Gates, “50 Years for Warren Buffett’s Wisdom,” makes an important point about being an entrepreneur. To tackle worthy problems requires entrepreneurs to have the courage to make mistakes.
For a category-creating product like the smartphone, there were only tantalizing hints and the confluence of several technologies – chip technology, digital cameras and durable glass, to name three – to guide developers. Until the first successful smartphone, operating systems had only worked on much larger desktop computing machines. How could an operating system run efficiently and pleasantly on small devices?
As it turned out, consumers couldn’t buy the first iPhone fast enough. It wasn’t, to use one breakthrough, because “pinch to zoom” was a clever software hack. Consumers couldn’t buy the phone fast enough because “pinch to zoom” was a revolution in family and vacation photos.
Not all entrepreneurs have Apple’s research and development budget, of course. But each entrepreneur does have a “risk” budget. The important thing is to right-size the risk – and then make that bet.
Gates and Buffett understand that the payoff for risk taking is more than just success in the marketplace. They also understand that courage is needed for any success worth having.