Marketing Hall-of-Famer Michael Loeb: Learn to Strike When the Iron is Hot

Everyone and their mother wants to be an entrepreneur. Be your own boss, earn your own profits, run the show. Still, most of us will wake up day-in, day-out and go to work for someone else. And among those brave few who do try to strike out on their own, failure is a serious risk. Roughly half of all startups eventually go bust.

Not only has serial entrepreneur Michael Loeb found success, he’s found it fifty times over. Loeb has helped found and support over 50 successful startups and now runs a startup lab out of New York City. And yet Loeb has one major professional regret, not getting started sooner. As he noted last year:

“I wish I had started my entrepreneurial journey sooner. We are living in a time of major disruption and I encourage everyone here to not hesitate. Seize your passion, energy, and conviction and funnel it into making your startup a company that can truly create positive change for a specific industry or community.”

Don’t Let Excuses Get in the Way

It’s easy to come up with excuses. Stick with your job, keep your health insurance, build up the 401K, play it safe. Yeah, you might never get rich but you probably won’t go broke. Just keep collecting those paychecks. It’s the easy way out. And it’s the choice must of us make.

Still, as Loeb notes, we live in an age of disruption. New technologies are constantly entering the market. Consumer tastes and trends are always evolving. The next Apple or Google could very well be getting started in someone’s garage as you read this.

But if you don’t take the chance to seize the moment, you’ve got no chance to be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Sure, if you try you could still fail, but your chances will certainly be greater than zero. If you never take the first step, however, your chances will always be zero.

Success, Rinse, Repeat

Loeb is living proof that entrepreneurs can succeed and that success is repeatable. Loeb’s far from a one-hit wonder. Remember, he’s been a part of 50 different startups. Loeb is probably most famous for his direct marketing methods. In fact, he was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association’s Hall of Fame all the way back in 2002.

Still, Loeb knows that he might be even more successful if he had started earlier.  And that’s a question every entrepreneur has to ask him or herself. Am I going to be more or less successful if I get started today? In most cases, your best chance at success is to get started right away. Strike while the iron is hot.

Opportunity is Fleeting

Markets evolve. Have a great idea today? Act on it. If not, someone else might. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about an app or setting up a small business, like a restaurant. Loeb has learned that disruption is often as much about timing and opportunity as it is about ideas.

Take Priceline, for example. Loeb was one of the key financers behind the popular travel website. Sure, Loeb enjoys his vacations like any of us do. But for him, the opportunity to invest in Priceline made sense because he recognized the potential to disrupt a massive industry. Tourism accounts for over 10 percent of the global GDP, meaning it’s worth trillions upon trillions of dollars.

Priceline disrupted that. A few decades ago, you’d have to rely on travel agents. Such agents have gone to the wayside, replaced by services like Priceline that have both lowered costs and made traveling easier. Everyone can be their own travel agent now. But Loeb wouldn’t have been there for Priceline, wouldn’t have been able to disrupt the market, if he hadn’t struck while the iron was hot.

Timing, opportunity, willpower, resources, success is determined by a lot of factors. But first you have to take the plunge.

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