Make New Mistakes

Dr. Hermann Hauser, in a lecture at the Cambridge Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, spoke of the four big mistakes faced by the entrepreneur of today.

Time

“Everybody underestimates the time that a project takes. I was first introduced to the Einsteinian problem of time dilation early on in my physics career. The people in the workshop gave me a good rule of thumb, they said; ‘If you think something takes x amount of time, say half a year or so, multiply it by Pi.’ It usually takes just over three times as long as you think.”

Money

“Closely correlated with the time aspect is that of money. It always takes more money than expected.”

Market Size

“Over estimation of the market size is an enormous problem. Especially when it comes to over-enthusiastic young people who can see how wonderfully attractive this new product is… but nobody else does. This market size issue is a key problem…”

People Issues

“It is surprising how easily people fall out with each other, so watch out for that as well. It is a common mistake.”

“My conclusion is this, mistakes are going to happen all the time. Learn from the old ones and try not to repeat them. Try to make new mistakes. If you are not making new ones you are not trying too hard. Also, mistakes come in all guises. There is a very large number of different mistakes, although some are more common than others. Experience does actually help, so listening to some of us does pay off. You should at least listen. You don’t necessarily need to implement what we suggest, but listen, because we’ve come across most mistakes in our careers. Last but not least, learn the basics. People often ask me, ‘Aren’t entrepreneurs born, you can’t train them so you shouldn’t even try.’ Well, I always say, perhaps you cannot make a tone deaf person a concert pianist, but giving them a piano sure helps.”