As An Entrepreneur, Going 80% is Easy, its that Last 20%

In business, china business by Michael Michelini12 Comments

Sunday evening here in Shenzhen, China. The photo attached to today’s blog post is from the top of Nanshan Mountain. I hiked it this afternoon, a few friends may have gone, but they didn’t feel like going. I still went. I tried to go the whole way up without stopping, but had to take a break about 3/4 along the way. Maybe I should have eaten lunch a few hours earlier. It felt good to get to the top of that mountain today. Refreshing, fulfilling.

Its been almost exactly 1 year since I went out and put 100% of my attention to Social Agent Limited (aka Weibo Agent). Starting something, as an excited and creative entrepreneur is easy. Its when there are challenges, obstacles, that is when it defines you as a person, as well as a business person.

I think the best way to reflect on this is to give some various scenarios:

Temptations to Do Something Else

As an entrepreneur, we’re normally meeting many people, talking about tons of business opportunities. Especially as the business co-founder (aka “hustler”), many times our business development meetings and sales calls can easily get swayed into off-topic conversations and new business deals.

I think its a huge challenge for an entrepreneur to stay focused on that 1 venture they have committed to, and “say no” to all the other noise.

Is It a Pivot, Or is it a New Business?

Then there is this famous startup term called “Pivot” where a business takes a new direction based on market / customer feedback. Social Agent has about 3 pivots – from analytics, to big data lead generation, to a platform to connect businesses to Chinese sales agents. When is it not a pivot, and simply its a new business?

I guess that would be defined mainly as the team is the same, and the market / problem you are trying to solve is that same vision.

Friends See Your Pain, Offer Alternatives

As an entrepreneur, we will all have down days. Days where we may question why we’re doing what we’re doing. And those friends and loved ones around us don’t like to see their friends in such pain.

I have had a few offers for jobs, business opportunities, and creative alternatives to what venture I may be working on at the time, and again, this is a real challenge and test of a startup’s dedication and endurance.

Its not easy.

Entrepreneurs Usually Get Bored With Those Last Details

I think another, probably main reason, that startups stop at 80% of a startup is because that last 20% is the most difficult and defining part. As many say, an idea is easy – its all about execution. And I think as startups, a lot of the hard stuff is left to the end. Or its just pure endurance to get through all those hula hoops.

And entrepreneurs have ADD (attention deficit disorder), probably when we’re kids teachers would give us pills to calm us down. We want to do so many things, we want to change the world. Make something huge. Go big or go home.

There is just so much to do, and how can someone pick just 1 thing! But we have to do our best to “sit on our hands” and stick to that 1 venture and make it work, or move on. Don’t want to be a jack of all trades, master of none.

Never Sure When to say Has A Venture “Failed”

What is bankruptcy? What is failure? Many say there is, and many say there isn’t. I think that last 20% of a startup venture may even look like failure to some. As maybe to hit 100% market ready, it can seem like a hail mary. To really know if you’re building what the market will like.

Yes, lean startup. But still, there has to be that time when the product is being build, the production ready version, and the time beforehand. Right now, for Social Agent, we have until about early to mid August before we have fully all our web and mobile versions finished. Its been about 2 months to re-pivot to this 2 sided platform.

But what is failure? Some say when you run out of money. Others when your whole team has left the venture. Maybe, but there is always a way to continue on if you want to.

Anyway, I am going to see Social Agent through that last 20%. Lets rock, I put August 10th as the launch of our new version.

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  1. Michael, Well Said! I feel the same way about many of the things you say. Oh, yes! entrepreneurs has ADD! 🙂 Get those 100% on Social Agent!!!

    1. Thanks Shlomo!
      I look forward to meeting you in Beijing… once Social Agent product is a bit more stable 🙂

  2. Nice blogging. Good luck to get through the last mile.

    1. Thanks! Some would say to me stop blogging and get back to work. Haha.
      Time to add oil more than ever

      Lets see how it goes

  3. Or maybe the problem is that what looked like the “last 20%” is actually 80% of the total work… We tend to underestimate the amount of work needed to reach success, don’t we?
    Perseverance is an under-rated quality, I guess.

    1. True. I think its human nature. . Or almost life safsguard from driving us all crazy.. to realize how much effort it takes from the beginning may make us all question why exactly we are trying to do it

  4. Keep on trucking man. Checkout hyperbaric oxygen chambers, where you can get a session of 100% oxygen applied to your body and can help with physical and mental energy and tissue healing.

    Big Gaber here in Tokyo and we tried it yesterday 🙂

    1. I read an article saying that we should sleep less and less so that we can get more work done…. I think that is so crazy! Im learning sleep is helping me get more work done… focus and dedication is the hard part
      Enjoy Tokyo. .. When are you back to shenzhen?

      1. Yeah, I don’t overwork myself much anymore, but if I get something interesting to work on, I can stay glued to screen for 24hrs. Eating less / fasting can yield good energy, too – gives body time to heal itself rather than digest…

        Maybe back in Shenzen next month sometime. Contemplating Tokyo vs Cairns as a new base…

  5. Keep going man. The thing we entrepreneurs have for that last 20% is kind of like what writers have when they get writers block. The power behind the sub conscious mind is so strong that sometimes our fears of finishing and it failing make the remaining 20% even more difficult. The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.

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