Do you need to be lucky to succeed in Start-up Companies?


Early in my career, I decided to leave my sales management position with a stable multi-national company to join a fast growing, risky start-up in California. Fortunately, the move from Pharmacia (now GE Healthcare) to Applied Biosystems (now Thermo) was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Though Applied Biosystems eventually played a major role in the success of the Human Genome Project, my decision to join was made long before that project had gained any real momentum. Many start-ups have similar revolutionary plans, but not all succeed. Can I chalk up my decision to join ABI to good intuition? Or was it just plain good luck?

N. Taylor Thompson penned an interesting blog this month in the Harvard Business Review that discusses how luck, both good and bad can impact a career, especially in the start-up environment. We all like to take credit for success when some degree of luck is in our favor. But none of us are lucky all the time, so how should you handle bad luck? Thompson talks about how to minimize negative results by avoiding projects where success is highly uncertain. He goes on to describe three ways to minimize negative outcomes in order to maximize success. If you are contemplating your next position in an emerging company, it is worth the read.

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