How To Beat The Odds (Honestly)

Five23 - Erik Hayton - How to beat the odds (Honestly)

How To Beat The Odds (Honestly)


A Five23 Guest Post by Erik Hayton.

Erik is the CEO of Wedding Nook and a 4x Founder who occasionally writes, speaks and consults in areas of entrepreneurship and business development.


How to beat the odds; an honest look at entrepreneurship


If you spend as much time online as I do, you’ve undoubtedly experienced those hilariously-titled entrepreneurship articles clogging up your feed at one time or another. Most of them tell you how to ‘identify your passion’ in order to turn it into a revenue stream, or how to ‘become your own boss’ by following an unbelievably simple set of rules…

Inspiring, aren’t they.

What these articles fail to acknowledge is the cold-hard fact that your odds of making it are just plain terrible. Sorry.


Let’s talk numbers!


In the United States, only 4.1% of people own their own business (source).

If you’re one of them, you know that there’s a 90% chance you’ll crash and burn.

So…10% of 4.1 = 0.41% of us that are capable of making it through the first few years.

Now, 95% of U.S. business owners have at least a bachelor’s degree. That’s not to say that you can’t do it without a degree, but─  statistically ─ you’re worse off. (0.02%)

Surprisingly, only 1% receives venture capital funding. Something you won’t hear on a daily basis. 

If that wasn’t reason enough to think long and hard about a career change: The top 3 reasons people ‘become entrepreneurs’ are Money, Flexibility, and Control.

These reasons are not only terrible – they’re hilarious.

The average entrepreneur makes under $50k per year, works 66 hours per week and wears far too many hats to worry about control. You want money? Learn a trade; Want flexibility? Try yoga; but if you want control, you’re in for a nasty surprise. Your investors, co-founders, employees, contractors, suppliers, etc. they all need something, and you’re the gofer. Nobody has more bosses than an entrepreneur.


With these overwhelming odds against you, why would you even want to try?


Well for many of us, the odds don’t sound too bad. That optimistic little voice inside of us assures us that the upside is well worth the risk. Whether you set out to leave a legacy or chart your own destiny, you’re driven by solving problems or you simply enjoy challenging the status quo. There are many reasons that do make sense, but out of all of them, one stands out. Which brings me to my favorite statistic: 99.7% of all U.S. Businesses are small businesses.

Who knew that entrepreneurs not only hoped to change the world, but that it was actually part of the job description?

The world NEEDS entrepreneurs, and far more of them.

Luckily, there has never been an easier time to start a business. With all of the free resources and code online, you hardly have a reason not to try!

Need someone who knows something you don’t? Clarity, Cofounders Lab, Founder2be

Need an Investor? Angel List, F6S, Kickstarter

Want to now how much your startup is worth or need to secure financing? Five23

Not sure how to market? Growthgeeks, Sumome

Don’t even have an IDEA? Here you go: “101 Business Ideas


I could go on, but other people have already made lists:

Growth Supply

Freelance Folder

Justin Mcgill


Changing the World


For those willing to assume the responsibility, ‘changing the world’ can be as simple as observing what’s around you. Maybe you work in finance and see some holes in traditional banking, so you start an online bank that is fairer than the competition (Musk); or maybe you had a bad experience with an airline, so you start your own, right there in the terminal, with a chartered plane (Branson).

By looking at the people who have succeeded more than most, a playbook emerges; “Never stop learning; and use what you know, to improve the things around you.”

Simple, but hardly easy! After all, if it were easy to change the world, we’d be living in far more interesting times. But all of the technology and resources in the world won’t help you if you aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. In our dopamine addicted, blue-light infected, ‘feelings are more important than facts’ dream world; you’re up against a hell of a lot of distractions and discouragement.

A recent poll of 9,348 entrepreneurs (courtesy of Five23) showed that the average entrepreneur starts 2.1 businesses before succeeding, and spends 11 months on each. That’s almost 24 months of grinding before you even sort of make it. That’s a lot of time without a decent income, family time, friends, facebook or free-time in general!

But if you can keep learning, stay focused and figure out how to persevere more than most. Then eventually your experience and tenacity will click, allowing you to beat the overwhelming odds, and finally be able to call yourself an ‘entrepreneur’; not because it’s a cool buzzword, but because you’ve truly beaten the odds and earned it.

Now go do something productive.

 –  Erik Hayton.