Recurring among the entrepreneurially-inclined is the Superman story: for this venture to stand up and walk, I need to develop my product, manage my website, maintain my clients, seek funding, keep funding, update my website, blog, Tweet, market, promote, design, redesign, solve, troubleshoot…lather…rinse…repeat…
In “You Can’t Do It All,” Langley Steinert, founder of CarGurus.com, tells Inc.com readers why doing it all isn’t the answer, and presents the 80/20 principle, that “20 percent of the inputs account for 80 percent of the results.”
I’ve heard Langley’s advice again and again while following the NYU Entrepreneurs Challenge, both as wisdom and observation. Bob Dorf, author of The Startup Owner’s Manual, did tell students that launching a startup is so challenging even your dog won’t recognize you after a while, but he also stressed the importance of intense customer research on the front-end of a venture to ensure success down the road–putting in that 20 percent immediately so that you can yield the 80 later on.
Similarly, I talked to a student participant who had tried to learn coding in order to build her web applications herself, but couldn’t learn it fast enough to make it worthwhile. After evaluating her own efficiency and discovering she needed help, she had found a programmer to join her venture.
Langley’s position brings up an interesting point for entrepreneurs: believe in yourself enough to push ahead, but don’t overestimate how much you can accomplish by yourself.