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Adam Ryan

Timing is Everything

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

More so than the idea, vision, execution, funding and people, timing could well be the most critical element to the success of a start up.

Having had enormous experience across a diverse range of industries and involvement in Start Ups, the most common discussion had is what are the key elements of what makes a successful start up. It is a discussion fuelled by human curiosity.

Of course there is no one single pathway to success. Each company will cut its own swathe and define its own journey. However, the discussion often broadens to the elements in various forms and importance of each, that are present as a guide for successful start ups.

Yes, all businesses start with an idea and so there is a strong argument that the idea is the most important element. However, what about the team? What about their ability to work together and to execute?

Is it the Business Model? Many successful businesses worked out their business model as they went along. Google and YouTube, just to highlight a few well known examples.

We also hear often, if only I had the funding? So, how important is capital.

And what about external forces that impact a business?

To gain a broader perspective it is worth exploring what Bill Gross the Chairman of Idealab had to say on this matter at a Ted Talk in 2015. Bill Gross and the team at Idealab have achieved incredible success over 20 years with over 150 successful business start ups. Many now valued at over $1 Billion and disrupted many industries. However, many have not succeeded too.

So what does Bill think about all this?

Bill, in his extensive experience, identified five key elements, which he believed to be critical to the success of a start up, such as:

  1. Idea;

  2. Team;

  3. Business Model;

  4. Funding; and

  5. Timing.

There has been a long held view that First Mover Advantage is the most important element to succeeding. Be First Move Fast, was the catch cry! However, there are numerous examples of companies that were first to market only to be over run by another. Does Netscape and My Space ring any bells? So how does this happen?

Bill talks about timing as probably the most critical element. His concept of time expands the idea of what time is from a more conventional view of time. Instead of thinking of time as a linear concept whereby a series of events, follows each other and are somewhat unrelated, he explores the importance of the 'elements' or 'events' that are occurring at a particular point in time.

It is the 'goings on' which in his research is most likely to be the determinant of success, although the others are still very important.

Bill Gross' Ted Talk, "The single biggest reason why startups succeed"


About the Author

Adam Ryan is a Professor of Practice (Adjunct Professor) at Monash University and is a principal at Watkins Bay. He has over twenty years of start-up experience in Australia and the USA. An expert in company structuring for innovation, high growth strategy and capital for early to growth stage businesses.


Contact Details

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USA + 1 (858) 252-0954


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Join thousands of people receving regular insights into ideas that help people and businesses grow.

Adam Ryan Head Shot small.png

Written By

Adam Ryan

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