By Paul Bassat
I was at Seek for 14 years - although we faced plenty of challenges and problems along the way - overall we had a fairly charmed run. At the time I was hungry and passionate and nothing seemed hard, but now as an investor I see just how hard the entrepreneur’s journey can be.
One of the great things about being an investor is that you get to work with many different companies. I see a significant volume of startups and the range of challenges that they face along the way. In some cases they're able to overcome them and in others they're not.
The odds of a company going from a startup to a very successful large company are quite low. The list of what can go wrong is much bigger than the list of what can go right.
A lot has to go right to be successful
To build a really successful business a lot of things need to go right. To achieve this an entrepreneur has to be laser-focused on executing their idea and taking it to the world. To bring everything together and see it through founders need substantial resilience.
Relatively few people can run businesses at both an early stage and at an enterprise level. Not everyone wants to make the sacrifices that come with growing a business. This is why a lot of people choose to exit, go at a slightly slower rate or reduce the level of risk in the business and take a more conservative approach.
When you have multiple founders, you need to have a fantastic relationship and work collaboratively together through lots of different stresses and situations. The motivations of the founders may change and getting the whole team dynamic right throughout the journey can be challenging.
Obviously, you also have to have product market fit - a product or service that people want. There has to be something special or unique about what you're offering otherwise lots of people will do it and your ability to have a really significant profitable business will be chipped away by competitors.