Being an entrepreneur is so counterintuitive to human nature. What natural tendencies do you think entrepreneurs should avoid?

My list of natural tendencies to avoid:

1. Linear thinking

Nature: linear relationships

Social world: exponential relationships

Why someone achieves 10,000x more than another cannot be because they work 10,000x harder, but because they take advantage of exponents (through leverage).
=> Entrepreneurs, especially in tech, must think exponentially, not linearly

2. Scarcity mindset

The problem in the past: not enough food, resources, info. Led to conflict and competition. Zero-sum.

Today, everything is abundant. Default action should be collaboration. Positive-sum.
=> Entrepreneurs should share their ideas, collaborate, learn in public (and not limit themselves because they think ideas/success are scarce)

3. Short-term focus

In the past:

  • Tough to store stuff
  • Things didn’t compound
  • Survival not guaranteed, better use it / eat it now

Today, fit body, good relationships, riches, success... Everything is possible, but only if you stick with it and think long-term.
=> Think long-term, stay patient, don't look at the results too frequently

4. Seeking social validation

Caring about others’ opinions was beneficial in a tribe of 150, not so much in a tribe of 7 billion.

If an investor doesn't appreciate your business, your life expectancy won't go down.
=> Don't rely on others' opinions. If they agree it's a good idea, it's already too late and the market is saturated. Trust your vision and gain feedback, but don't be overly impacted by negative comments.

5. Fear

Fear in the past: “Was that a lion roaring 2 meters from me? Or just my hunting mate’s hungry stomach?”

Fear today: “If my business fails, my mother-in-law will think I'm no good.”

Most fear today is not life-preserving but self-limiting.
=> It's okay to feel fear, but it's not okay to be limited by it. Do it regardless. You'll still be alive afterwards.

What would you add to the list? Bonus points if you can explain WHY it's a natural tendency to us and WHY it doesn't serve entrepreneurs today.

  1. 2

    Confirmation bias. Two Feynman quotes:

    The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.

    If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.


    It doesn't make a difference how beautiful or smart your app idea is or how much people say "it's a good idea". Only one thing matters. Do they use it?

    1. 1

      Uuu I like this one, thanks for sharing!

  2. 2

    Caring about others’ opinions was beneficial in a tribe of 150, not so much in a tribe of 7 billion.

    I feel like this is one of the hardest ones on the list (and that fear), because they're so primal.

    We're social creatures and everything (and everyone) is so constantly connected now, I think it leads to real burn out (worse of all is comparing ourselves to people that we have bought into our mental tribe, but they haven't joined our actual tribe (e.g. any practically famous internet entrepreneur / person)). Some people are inspired by them, but I think most of us just feel inadequate by comparison.

    1. 2

      Well said. And to add to that, we tend to mimic others' behaviour and want what others want, which I'm sure has led many entrepreneurs to feel inadequate if they don't have Stripe-like success.

      In my original post on this topic I wrote about our tendency to try to solve problems in the external world:

      "Our problems aren't external (food, shelter) but internal (desire, comparison, attention-seeking).

      But we try to solve them as if they were external (buying, posting pics, signaling...)"

      => And I think it's far easier to deal with the internal problem of social comparison and mimicry and status seeking than it is to work 90 hours a week trying to build the next superstar company.

  3. 2

    the first positive feedback I got in my first IT job (32 years ago) was that I was a good lateral thinker. I've always believe in that - find multiple ways to see a problem and solution, not just a linear approach. But as for exponential thinking - yeah that's why we're all burning out faster than we can say "I need a holiday". We won't stop our ways of thinking and doing stuff, but perhaps we should occasionally?

    Great website and I've subscribed. Now just need to find time for it - not just to read, but to properly digest ;-)

    1. 1

      Thanks for this comment, Steve!
      Agree that lateral thinking - or just not accepting the first solution to a problem - should be up on this list.

      And thanks for subscribing! I'm just getting started on writing so your support means a lot :)

  4. 2

    Btw, I wrote a longer post on this topic, with action steps on how to avoid the natural tendencies, if you're interested

    1. 2

      Will be sure to check this out! :)

  5. 1

    Well explained!
    To piggyback off of what you have said, I think there are various factors that influence someone's thought process becoming an entrepreneur that should try and be avoided or at least minimized.

    Attitude and the perception of becoming an entrepreneur and whether this is a good or bad career path in the one's own personal opinion.

    Social norms and how society views entrepreneurship as a career path, their family's views, and their encouraging or discouraging of entrepreneurship. As you mentioned, the fear that is associated with failure and your mother-in-law thinking you're 'no good' in terms of social norms.

    These thoughts are somewhat restricting and are natural tendencies that should be avoided.

    1. 1

      Yep, agree! Everyone should define for themselves what being an entrepreneur means to them. For me, it's more about creating something on my own and not about VCs and funding and that stuff.

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