startup wisdom

Huge Thoughts for Startup Success

Are you taking a leap into a new business? Great! This is perfect timing because the best ever startup and business book has just been published. Although Peter Thiel’s Zero to One is centered on technology companies with grand scale, the wisdom is for all startups and all entrepreneurs.

Zero to One Peter Thiel Startup

Huge Thoughts for Startup Success:

Step 1. Read Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One and answer these 7 questions on pages 153 and 154:

The Engineering Question – Is what you are creating 10 X better than anything else available? If what you are doing is only an incremental improvement in a competitive market then it will be a struggle to gain and keep customers.

The Timing Question – Why is this the best time to launch?

The Monopoly Question – Can your product or service capture a big piece of a small market? This is a scenario without competition. This is contrary to what a lot of startup consultants believe. The ideology of competition is so deep that some consultants believe that if you can’t name your competitors, or if you have no competitors you don’t have a business. This is breakthrough question. Businesses that seek a small percentage of a gigantic market are highly vulnerable to competition. Peter Thiel describes creative monopolies as businesses providing something that no one else can. They are innovators delivering a high level of new value.

The People Question – Do you have the right team? This is a core question where failure to get it right can have serious consequences.
Outlining personal and professional expectations at the get go and discussing worst case scenarios fearlessly can minimize the inevitable disagreements and misunderstandings.

The Distribution Question – An obvious question that is easy to get wrong. The 3 M’s of distribution are marketing, messaging, and mission. These must be crystal clear to you and your customers. If your business is stumbling at distribution go back to the drawing board and work on refining the

The Durability Question – What is the future? Can your business evolve and continue to prosper and thrive? It requires reviewing the 7 questions over time.

The Secret Question – Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?

startupMy Personal Experience

I launched a business that had 5 of the 7 right. It was a fantastic experience until we missed on the “Durability Question” and the “People Question”.  After 5 years we lost our “monopoly position” as competition flourished and founder relationships floundered due to not setting clear expectations from the beginning. In retrospect, based on the wisdom of Zero to One, franchising early on to maintain the monopoly or exiting when that opportunity was lost would have been better choices. 


Step 2. Create a simple, memorable tagline or motto that serves as a touchstone for all your decisions.

This sounds so simple and yet it is often harder than naming your first-born. It helps to study the best taglines of all time and never read the taglines of others in your industry. Competing for the “best tagline” puts you into the wrong frame of mind for creating yours. These classics capture the essence of evolving iconic brands.

Think Differently – Apple
A Diamond is Forever – DeBeers
we try harder – avis
Melts in you Mouth not in Your Hands – M&M
just Do It – Nike

Step 3. REVENUEs

Colossal tech companies are achieving huge valuations and investments before making money. Tech startups are designing and selling solutions that these colossal companies (FB, Google, Yahoo, Amazon) want.  Have a revenue plan – your money must come consistently from customers. 


how we used to think

The recession set off a startup boom. Most startups were asking these questions:

What problem does your product or service solve?
How big is the market?
What is your distribution plan?
Who is your competition?
Why are you the one?
What is your secret sauce?
How will you monetize?

OK. Zero to One is a 10x improvement in business books and wisdom. 
…now it’s back to my latest startup drawing board. 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s