by Brad Bollenbach

The first Ruby on Rails web development contract I ever got, with zero Rails experience whatsoever, was for $85/hour. To get it, I sent out 80 CVs in 2 weeks.

The consulting gig I’m doing right now? I applied for dozens of contracts over a period of months, including even getting flown out to Zappos in Las Vegas recently, going through eight hours of interviews with various engineering teams — and ultimately got rejected.

I’ve written 80,000 to 100,000 words and over 70 articles on this blog. Not a millionaire yet, apparently. Still going.

Not counting consulting, I’m on my third business idea. If 80% of businesses fail, I’m getting closer and closer to shifting the odds in my favour.

I liked 199 girls on Plenty of Tweeps, before finally meeting the girl I now live with, the girl I will almost certainly marry. And that’s not even counting the hundreds and hundreds of people I’ve met from social skydiving.

The Numbers Game

No matter how hard you try, you are only going to get a fraction of the results you expect. That may sound discouraging. After all, a five percent return on watching TV with your partner at night, complaining about everything that’s wrong with your job — about how your whole department is just fucked — will not grow into an asset you can retire on.

But a five percent return on hitting up literally every single opportunity you can think of — five percent of 1 Yes, in spite of 200 Noes — five percent of using every second you are not working for someone else to build something that just might allow you to work for yourself — that, in my experience at least, is a gamble worthy of your entire force.

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Comments
  1. [...] But a five percent return on hitting up literally every single opportunity you can think of — five percent of 1 Yes, in spite of 200 Noes — five percent of using every second you are not working for someone else to build something that just might allow you to work for yourself — that, in my experience at least, is a gamble worthy of your entire force. — Playing The Numbers Game [...]

  2. Anna says:

    It’s not only a numbers game – strategy and intuition will help, too. But it’s definitely a matter of persistence – and that makes it a numebers game again: The longer you persist, the more likely you will succeed with something.

  3. [...] A five percent return on hitting up literally every single opportunity you can think of — five percent of 1 Yes, in spite of 200 Noes — five percent of using every second you are not working for someone else to build something that just might allow you to work for yourself — that, in my experience at least, is a gamble worthy of your entire force. — 30Sleeps [...]

  4. [...] A five percent return on hitting up literally every single opportunity you can think of — five percent of 1 Yes, in spite of 200 Noes — five percent of using every second you are not working for someone else to build something that just might allow you to work for yourself — that, in my experience at least, is a gamble worthy of your entire force. — 30 Sleeps [...]

  5. Andrey says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog, but I have trouble with your statement:

    “If 80% of businesses fail, I’m getting closer and closer to shifting the odds in my favour.”

    Since you are a technical person, I hope you know this is not correct. At best for you, separate business creation events are independent, and in this case the odds are not shifting at all. However, they are not, and if you’ve been failing, then the odds are in fact shifting away from your favor.

    Cheers,
    Andrey

  6. Tom C says:

    80% of Businesses fail, but that takes into account all level of experience, abilities and aptitudes and aggregates the whole lot (20% is a high success rate then!).
    I believe Brad’s on the money here because everytime you start a Business you learn something new which takes you a little step closer to that success you crave. It’s all a numbers game mixed in with a bit of strategy and wisdom.

  7. deborah says:

    I think it’s about numbers, wisdom, patience and persistence. Everytime you fail, you learn something new. If talking about business and starting a company, many factors are involved. It takes time. That’s it. Just don’t worry too much, results comes with time. :)

    Have a nice day :)

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