As the founder of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and also Gazelles, a fast-growth business consultancy, my life’s work has been devoted to helping aggressive entrepreneurial companies scale. This has given me the opportunity to work with legendary entrepreneurs from the moment they had their big idea to the time they booked their first $100 million in revenue (and moved far beyond).
Typically, people start businesses in fields they know. They are working for a firm; spot an opportunity their company can’t/won’t take advantage of and go off to do it themselves.
But today, there is a different phenomena that is much more fascinating. A significant number of companies—everything from Amazon to Zip cars—are being started by “beginners”; people with no relevant industry background. (Jeff Bezos, creator of Amazon was a “rocket scientist” on Wall Street. Zip Car founder Robin Chase’s background was in international health.)
Why is this significant? Bezos, Chase, and thousands like them are bringing multiple advantages to the table. First, they are not hamstrung by industry best-practices. (They don’t know what they are.) They don’t follow “the rules” about distribution/sales channels. (Again, because they simply are unaware of them.) And they don’t know that what they are trying to do can’t be done, because they never asked an “expert.”
From my experience, established firms tend to dismiss the success of these types as having beginner’s luck. But it is clearly more than that: ...