Startup Entrepreneurs Must Be Tough


30 Jan Startup Entrepreneurs Must Be Tough

It always boggles my mind that one of the most intelligent and meaningful quotes I’ve ever heard came from the mouth of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. When a reporter asked Iron Mike if he was worried about his opponents plan going into a fight he said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Every startup entrepreneur should take this quote to heart, regardless of its source.

entrepreneur-punchedFar more often than not I see entrepreneurs over planning to the point of execution paralysis. I have seen more entrepreneurs waste time running three year financial models for a product that doesn’t exist and a team that may not be working full-time than I care to count. Inevitably, when the time comes to execute those same entrepreneurs are always months behind. It is those who they will get “punched in the face” regularly who seem to succeed. In fact, some of them have only one plan, to go to market and get punched in the face.

I write about not to demean the value of planning, but to stress the value of action and feedback. Focusing on creating flexible short-term plans are a must. But a major part of those plans should be going to the market to hear “no” from as many people as possible. The “no” is the entrepreneurial equivalent of being punched in the face. Hearing the word “no” is the most valuable thing any entrepreneur can hear. It is a blessing. But only if you get to the understanding of why.

I try and improve my own performance by just a half a percentage point day in and day out, which is ambitious and logical. This is my short term plan and I stick to it. During the course of each day I will get punched in the face 10-15 times.

As entrepreneurs we must be creating relationships, making new contacts, developing new distribution lines, building more product, recruiting new people, etc. This requires a tremendous amount of precision given that there is only 24 hours in each calendar day. Which is why you must create a simple plan with daily goals.

You want to be able to go out and fail as much as you can so you can, it is the best way to learn what to do next. To put it more simply if you are not hearing “no” more than your hearing the word “yes” in the beginning of your business you are doing something wrong. It is what you do after the punch that determines your fate.


– Eric Rice

Eric Rice