Startups will help our nation and the world get back on its feet

Business Insights

That's according to serial entrepreneur, investor and now author Vikas Shah who has spent 13 years talking to the world’s most influential people - including Will.i.Am, Sir James Dyson, Matthew McConaughey, Gary Veynerchuk, Stephen Schwarzman, Buzz Aldrin and Usain Bolt - as his hobby

Here Shah shares his 6 top tips for startups, and those considering launching an enterprise, as we emerge from the pandemic

1 Figure it out. Then… Take. A. Chance. On. Yourself.

Figure out what you want in life because if you don't know you're never going to be able to actually focus your energy and time properly. You've got to take a chance on yourself, you've got to try. When I started Thought Economics as a blog 13 years ago I didn’t think in a million years that I’d spend plenty of time talking to people like Matthew McConaughey, Usain Bolt and Will.i.Am and it’d eventually be refined into a book. But it happens. And it happens because you kind of take a chance on yourself and try. 

2 (Why not) Dream like an American

You've got to be prepared to have a dream. At the risk of sounding cheesy, if you want to achieve something big, something which might not fit the status quo, or something that doesn’t feel realistic, you have to be prepared to dream big. You're never going to be able to actually get sold on the vision of what life could be if you don’t. 

3 “If you are trying to avoid failure, your life is pointing in the wrong direction”

Anyone who has succeeded at anything in life has a long and illustrious string of failures behind them so don't be scared. We see successful people and focus on their successes as a bright shining beacon. We don't tend to look at the rest, the failures, the struggles. Failure is just a normal part of life and we cannot be frightened of it. When I asked Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar, the most important bit of life advice he could give me, he said “if you are trying to avoid failure, your life is pointing in the wrong direction”.

4 Think long term (like, real ‘far ahead’)

Every one of the entrepreneurs I spoke to was thinking five, 10, 15, 20 years ahead. That’s interesting because typically, people plan a few months ahead or a year. I discovered that this much longer-term thinking was at the heart of what has kept their businesses going because it means that you realise that the pandemic is temporary and that the world after the pandemic will have new opportunities as well. 

5 Embrace rapid change as a ‘new norm’

The pace of change across all aspects of our life is now running at such a pace that we have to make sure that we are at least emotionally and psychologically prepared for the unexpected. To build and then lead resilient organisations that at least have the ability to adapt faster and be leaner, we need to be resilient, personally, mentally and physically. We are living through a global scale natural disaster which will continue to cause a lot of otherwise very viable businesses to fail. But the pandemic also shows us how quickly the world can change, as what is now normal would have seemed anathema around a year ago. 

6 Hobbies (can) boost opportunities (and your business)

You have to look after your physical and mental health. I don't understand where this mentality of ‘always hustling’ came from. All the influential people I have spoken to are just not like that. It’s not how they are. I don't get where we've fallen into this trap. Through my own experiences and from hearing from others I don’t think you can ever underestimate where opportunities might come from. I often get asked how I manage to balance all the things that I do and never have a good answer for it other than, ‘I just kind of do it’ and that it sort of works itself out. My Thought Economics book was born from pursuing my hobby of wanting to speak to people I never thought I’d get the chance to speak to and I’ve spent 13 years doing it. It’s also led to many opportunities I’d never thought I’d get, like teaching in international universities and speaking at top global conferences. And my business has benefited from this too.