Lesson #1

To Successfully Launch a Start-Up, There Must Be a Benevolent Dictator

The term “dictator” conjures up thoughts of the world's most despicable evildoers, from Idi Amin to Saddam Hussein, and many even worse. However, this designation is not always a pejorative when combined with the modifier “benevolent.” In fact, the case could be made that being a benevolent dictator can make the difference when starting a business from scratch and with a scarcity of time and money.

Entrepreneurs fantasize, ponder, and calculate how to come up with that next big idea and translate it into fame and fortune, thereby fulfilling their own version of the American Dream. However, more often than not, people spend too much time dreaming and not enough time doing. The difference between success and failure is often simply a matter of getting started, fleshing out an idea, and then creating the building blocks to get from point A to point B—and from point B all the way to Z.

Doing this is certainly easier said than done. As business history has taught us, success comes from a combination of focus, determination, diligence, pure grit, a good dose of luck, and a touch of chutzpah. The successful entrepreneurs I've known possessed all of these qualities and one other characteristic that is seldom discussed—that of being an autocrat.

The reality of business today is that there are countless minefields along the climb to success. A seemingly innocent misstep in the wrong direction can spell not ...

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