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Are successful businessmen just lucky?

I believe most entrepreneurs have this conversation before, "Are successful people just lucky?".  I have talked to many businessmen who have made it and they attributed a big portion of their success to luck.  I have also talked to some who haven't made it and they were also attributing it to the lack of luck.

Photo credit: mentatdgt

Some of my friends argued that it is plain luck since everything is uncertain in the business world and some of these people are just "lucky".  My counter-argument to them would be, are you saying that if Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or Richard Branson were to start a new business (assuming that they have no access to their established network and wealth), it is as good a chance to succeed as any random person from the street?

After a few conversions on this topic, I decided to write about some of the conclusions that I have come to.  First of all, I believe even for a seasoned entrepreneur like Richard Branson, there will still be a few failures if he was to start 100 new businesses.  On the other hand, someone like the main character in Forrest Gump, may also have a few successes if he was to start 100 new businesses.

Of course, we may never know what the actual number is.  However, let's use 80/20 for discussion purpose.  I believe a very knowledgable, experienced, wise businessman will still have 20% of failure possibility in new ventures that he is starting.  Likewise, a very inexperienced, lack of knowledge person, with all the other flaws that you can think of, will still have a 20% success rate.

Now, the interesting part is that I don't think this number is fixed for any given entrepreneur.  I believe as an entrepreneur gains experiences, skills and knowledges, his success rate will improve from 80% to maybe 90% and eventually, maybe 95%.  However, this success rate will never hit 100%.  And as he looses touch with the business world, technology and has not been practising his skills, the success rate will drop, but again, it will never actually hit 0%.

Having this thought encourages and motivates me to continue to improve myself, may it be my sales closing skill, public speaking skill, new technology, as opposed to "relying" on luck!  What's your take on this?

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