Over 99 percent of the businesses that seek financing get rejected. Asking every entrepreneur to swing for the fences is dumb advice, in my opinion.
According to Peter, a small idea = bad idea.
I couldn't disagree more.
I just published Bootstrapping With A Paycheck, where we have case study after case study of businesses that have been successful by starting small, taking small amounts of risk, and developing very nice businesses.
This, by the way, is a tremendous trend right now. Entrepreneurs are taking measured risks, holding on to their full-time jobs, and starting to tinker with new ideas. They quit only when they feel that the idea has legs, and sometimes, even wait to get the business to a revenue-generating or profitable state. As long as you're not working on a competitive product, and doing what you are doing on your own time, employers largely do not object. You don't need to disclose.
As a matter of fact, we're working with major technology companies who are encouraging their employees to learn how to be entrepreneurs, and some are even offering seed funding to incubate new ideas within the company. Talk about doing it with your employer's blessing!
A great case study from the book, by the way, is DataStax, a company that was incubated inside RackSpace and has gone on to raise over $100 million in venture financing, and is valued at over $750 million.
Also, last year, I wrote The Other 99% (Entrepreneurs), highlighting the fact that there is a vibrant entrepreneurial eco-system that is alive and well, and needs to be alive and well, focusing on smaller opportunities. Fortune In The Middle Of The Pyramid, if you will.
In addition, many of today's grand successes started as tinkering on little projects. Ever heard of a dude called Mark Zuckerberg who was tinkering with some little sh*t at Harvard? World domination could not have been farther from his mind ...
And, as a matter of fact, in our coverage of Unicorn companies, we often see entrepreneurs who started with a small idea, built up either a small cash cow business (example: Zoho, now over $300 million in revenue), or had a small exit, and then went for a second idea that was larger (example: Tableau).
Sorry Peter, I don't get why every entrepreneur needs to swing for the fences.
Let me kick the discussion off with a comment from one of my readers, John Cheong, who weighed in on this topic rather poetically:
I think the society needs both, i.e., the "hunter" and the "gatherer," to prosper and push forward. A tribe with only hunters (per Thiel's advice) will starve if they can't track down a mammoth, and maybe go extinct pretty quickly. A tribe with only gatherers (per Sramana's advice) will live on roots for sure, but will never taste meat or grow big brains. That's why I think we need both types of entrepreneurs. You have the ratio about right: 99% gatherers and 1% hunters. The ratio in reverse will certainly be disastrous. We saw that in the last DotCom boom/bust cycle when the rallying cry was "Go Big or Go Home."
So let's celebrate the "little ball" this time, with our own "Li'l ones" playing at the "Little League," every Sunday, and cheering them on. We can always catch the World Series on TV, afterwards; but we wouldn't want to miss the games when our kids are playing. The SF Giants may be the inspiration, but it's not for every kid. There are other ways that baseball can be enjoyed by all."
Photo: David Reber/Flickr.