Top Ten Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make | Summary and Q&A

July 28, 2009
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Top Ten Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

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In this video, a panel of successful entrepreneurs discuss the top 10 mistakes of entrepreneurship. They emphasize the importance of learning from success rather than failure. The panelists share their experiences and answer various questions about starting a company, hiring the right people, building a great culture, and more.

Questions & Answers

Q: What should entrepreneurs pay the most attention to when starting a company?

The panelists unanimously agree that hiring the right people is the most important aspect of starting a company. They emphasize the value of assembling a team of highly talented individuals who excel at what they do. While having brilliant people is crucial, market fit is also essential for success.

Q: How should entrepreneurs allocate their time when starting a business?

The panelists have differing approaches when it comes to time management. Mike believes that time management is a critical skill for success and there is no formula for allocating time to different tasks. Pradeep believes in focusing more on hiring the right people, while Danny prefers to prioritize tasks at night before going to bed.

Q: What characteristics are important to look for in early recruits?

The panelists emphasize the importance of hiring smart individuals with unquestionable integrity. They believe that having smart and trustworthy employees is crucial for building a successful company. Additionally, they advise against hiring clones of oneself and instead recommend looking for complementary skills.

Q: How similar are successful ideas to the original idea when they come to market?

The panelists' experiences differ in this regard. Pradeep and Mike mention that their successful companies, Juniper Networks and Rambus, respectively, remained close to the original idea. However, Danny mentions that his company,, had a significant transformation from an escrow company to a person-to-person payment company. Overall, the similarity between successful ideas and the original idea can vary.

Q: How similar is the entrepreneurial environment today compared to 10-15 years ago?

The panelists believe that starting a company today is easier due to factors like the internet and access to capital. They mention that ideas can happen faster, but competition is also more intense. Despite these changes, the essence of entrepreneurship remains the same: developing the right idea, forming the right team, and executing it successfully.

Q: What motivates entrepreneurs: changing the world, building a great company, or getting rich?

The panelists agree that all three motivations can be important to entrepreneurs. They mention that building a great company is crucial for achieving both changing the world and getting rich. However, they also highlight the personal satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from working with talented individuals on interesting projects.

Q: Which HP executive do you admire the most?

The panelists mention different individuals they admire. Pradeep mentions John Cocke, an IBM Fellow, who had vast knowledge and inventiveness in various areas. Danny mentions Andy Bechtolsheim, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and a mentor to him. Mike admires Steve Jobs for his ability to turn around Apple, make Pixar successful, and his overall greatness.

Q: How do you know when you are ready to become an entrepreneur?

The panelists agree that there is no specific moment or test to determine if someone is ready to become an entrepreneur. It is something that individuals feel internally and have a strong desire to pursue. They believe that timing and personal inclination play a significant role in deciding to start a company.

Q: Is it advisable to start a company with a friend?

The panelists provide mixed responses to this question. Pradeep shares that he started a company with his best friend and it strengthened their friendship. However, they also acknowledge that running a company can be challenging, as only bad news tends to come in the beginning, which can strain a friendship.

Q: Can you build a great culture without having a big, audacious goal?

The panelists believe that having a big, audacious goal contributes to building a great company culture. They mention that having a clear purpose and a common objective for the company aligns the team and drives them towards success. Without a compelling goal, it becomes challenging to build a strong and vibrant culture.


The panelists' insights highlight the importance of hiring the right people, allocating time effectively, and having a strong company culture. They emphasize the value of learning from success, setting big goals, and having a passion for making a difference. Ultimately, building a great company requires a combination of talented individuals, a compelling vision, and relentless determination.

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