Take Risks, and Don’t Waste Your Time Avoiding Failure

Salomon Brothers gave Bloomberg a pat on the back and a severance check of $10 million and sent him on his way. “But I never let myself look back,” Bloomberg said of his firing, “the very next day I took a big risk and began my own company based on an unproven idea that nearly everyone thought would fail: making financial information available to people, right on their desktops.”2 Keep in mind, this was before people had desktops.

Bloomberg took a chunk of his $10 million, and wasting no time at all, created a business that merged the two skills he had developed at Salomon Brothers—knowledge of the securities and investment world, and of the technologies that made those deals happen. He thought that if he could build a system that took information about a mass of different investment types—stocks, bonds, and currencies—and organized it, traders could use it to see investment opportunities previously hidden by too much data.

In his book A Dozen Lessons for Entrepreneurs, a collection of twelve pieces of advice collected from various conversations with entrepreneurs and VCs, Tren Griffin makes an important point—that “entrepreneurs don’t ‘noodle’; they do.” Most entrepreneurs will tell you that the hardest part is starting. Griffin writes that “lots of people talk a good game about wanting to leave a big company for a startup, but when the time comes, most don’t do it.”

So Bloomberg was fired, and without a moment’s rest, hired four people from his old company and began creating then selling what would eventually become the well-known Bloomberg Terminal. He identified a major problem: the inaccessibility of investment data was preventing traders from making smart investments and thought of a solution, but most importantly, he took a risk and went all-in.

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