Heidi Roizen recently wrote an awesome article on unicorns (you know — those $1BN valuation startups) and how liquidation preferences can screw you over. Go read it.
But that’s not what I want to talk about here. What struck me in Heidi’s post is the following line:
You are betting usually 10 years of your life and all your available assets on your startup.
It typically takes between seven and ten years to build and exit a startup. Which means that you better a) be willing to invest that amount of time and energy into your startup, b) create something you actually believe in and c) do something you enjoy doing for the long run.
Remarkably I meet a ton of entrepreneurs who fail this test: They have a neat, little idea and are somewhat in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur. But when asked if this is what they want to do for the next ten years they shudder.
The interesting thing about the ten year question is that it works as a litmus test: Your idea needs to be big enough to pass that test. And big ideas are the ones worth doing. The ones which will attract financing. And the ones which are most fun to do.