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The 5 Rules for Silicon Valley Success That Can Work Anywhere


What Silicon Valley can teach us about entrepreneurship

By Hyder Owainati, Staff Writer

In Silicon Valley, you would be hard-pressed to find someone in a power suit. It’s all t-shirts, hoodies, shorts and jeans over here (with maybe the occasional blazer). But don’t let the laxed attire deceive you. For almost a generation now, the “Valley” has represented a hotbed of economic activity, harboring some of the world’s most successful and innovative tech firms from Google to Apple.

The 1,500 square mile area in and around of San Jose, California is also responsible for spawning some of the youngest and wealthiest entrepreneurs of the twenty-first century. In the Valley, aspiring moguls are encouraged to go wild with their dreams and start-ups are backed by an onslaught of nearby venture capitalists.

Understanding why and how Silicon Valley is so conducive to the entrepreneurial spirit can be instrumental in helping you with your own pursuits – whether or not you are in the tech industry.

You don’t have to travel thousands of kilometers to reap the benefits. Here’s what you should take from Silicon Valley.

What makes a good pitch?

In Silicon Valley, if you can’t explain your businesses, product or technology in less than three minutes – it needs to be dramatically reworked. In fact, three minutes may even be pushing it.

When it comes to the core idea or your business idea, simplicity is key.

Many entrepreneurs wrongly assume that in order to change the game and create a successful enterprise, you have to conjure up ever-elaborate ideas and solutions. Yet, it’s quite the opposite. “The great ideas of today are clean are simple,” says Todd Francis (Sashta Ventures) while vehemently snapping his fingers during his interview on Winds of Changea documentary on entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley.

“It’s not about the complexity of an idea or how innovative it is,” reiterates entrepreneur Sarah Karam (GoNabit – online coupon vender) in her interview with the BBC. “It’s about doing it well and providing a great service.”

When selling your pitch, you should be able to explain the essence of your business in a coherent and memorable story. Show the product. Show people using it. Explain the service you wish to provide in a way that it’ll leave a visual imprint on those listening. Make it memorable!

In Silicon Valley, thick business plans and PowerPoint presentations are almost coma inducing. Never rely on them! Especially when first introducing your idea with potential investors or trying to sell your pitch. “If it’s a business plan that I’ve got to look at page 15 to figure what you’re doing. It’s not going to happen,” says Francis.

“Demonstrating and showing your vision is more powerful than writing it.” Take Francis’s advice to heart. It can do wonders in your journey from struggling entrepreneur to successful business tycoon.

“Everything falls into place in the entrepreneurial world; when you solve a real problem for a real customer. So stay focused on that,” says Jeff Hoffman, cofounder of priceline.com.

Money is a goal. But not The Goal:

“You know, you can be wealthy and unhappy. And that’s not successful!” While this statement, made by Daniel Kottke – one of Silicon Valley’s most famous engineers/inventors and old friend of Steve Jobs – seems almost recycled, few people take it to heart.

Wall Street is teeming with those obsessed with profit margins and crunching numbers, to the point (at least under public opinion) that illicit activities have now become acceptable as long as they can help generate the big bucks.

Now don’t get me wrong, money is crucial to your entrepreneurial ventures.

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