I had an interesting discussion this morning with an early stage VC. He cares deeply about entrepreneurs and their success (not only the ones in his portfolio but in general) — he’s truly one of us. We talked about how founders often search for a playbook; something which gives them insight into the “how” of running their ventures; ideally in a play-by-play manner. And they have plenty to choose from: Books, blogs, self-proclaimed experts, conferences.
Yet — for me startups are far from being a hard science. What worked for someone else is so contextual to the person, the circumstances and the particular industry that it most likely isn’t directly applicable to you. Add the strong survivorship bias we encounter in our media to the mix and you come to a point where most advice is outright wrong (again: for your personal circumstances).
Understand that there are no maps; the maps that exist are not yours; develop a fine-tuned sense for your particular startup, the surrounding circumstances and players; seek out people who failed and learn from them (to overcome the survivorship bias) and then create your own unique flavor of all of this.
You can’t get the map, you need to create it first.
And just for the record: Whatever I write is never your map! :)