Many entrepreneurs attribute the success of their businesses to hard work… and a little bit of luck. This month, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we ask: is luck the determining factor for a business’s success? 

The consensus is no. Entrepreneurs who credit good luck for their success usually indicate that it is only a portion of what goes into business success – and far smaller than the majority. Most of them give luck credit amounting to 20% or less. When pressed, the common thread for what people consider “luck” is actually just good timing. Elon Musk revealed that Tesla was “three days away from bankruptcy” in 2008 when they secured a $40M loan to continue operations, and eventually thrive. Later, Musk revealed that around 2017, the company was once again a month away from bankruptcy, saying, “during the darkest days of the Model 3 program, I reached out to Tim Cook to discuss the possibility of Apple acquiring Tesla (for 1/10 of our current value). He refused to take the meeting.” Now, Tesla is worth over $1 Trillion.  

There are many examples of large companies that have benefitted from good timing. Here are a few: 

  • Uber came to being when GPS became ubiquitous in personal vehicles. 
  • Nutella is here today partially because of a cocoa shortage.  
  • Peloton hit it big when a global pandemic forced people to work out primarily at home.  

If luck is timing, one characteristic of lucky companies is that they do not strive for perfection. In fact, the pursuit of perfection might be just what prevents your business from succeeding. Fixating on perfection can prevent a startup from launching or progressing in many ways. Instead of getting to market early (or on time!), a startup could get stuck trying to add features. A perfection-obsessed entrepreneur might wait until they can demonstrate progress before they look for sustaining investment – a mistake of timing, but also in building open lines of communication with existing investors. 

“Lucky” companies also seem to be good about manufacturing their luck. Google was made famous for its unique workplace designs, meant to foster “serendipitous interaction.” By enhancing the ability of employees to interact at the maximum, Google increases the chances for innovation. A Forbes article advises that companies should “make happy accidents more likely to happen by ‘building diverse cultures, encouraging different disciplines to work together and even borrowing ideas from very different sectors.’”  

Many believe you make your own luck through hard work and know-how. If you are consistently hustling and seeking opportunities, chances are higher that the stars will align and a one-in-a-million opportunity presents itself. Katy Zinke, who founded a women’s activewear company, denies that luck has anything to do with success: “it may be as fractal as showing up to a Denver StartUp event, being partnered up with a woman for an exercise and then three years later having that same woman reappear in my life at the exact time I needed her to ultimately introduce me to a private equity firm that wouldn’t have considered me otherwise. This is the magic!” Call it what you will: this type of “luck” is precisely what we are in the business of creating at 3 Steps to Startup. We connect people to the networks and resources they need. We add that extra ingredient, a little bit of magic, to launching a business!  

Whether you believe luck plays a part in the success of your business or not, 3 Steps to Startup is here to help you ensure that your business doesn’t need luck to succeed! 3 Steps was formed to allow small businesses in our state to connect with experienced advisors and seed funding. If you are an entrepreneur, create your own luck by teaming up with 3 Steps to Startup. Learn more at and explore the resources already at your disposal. Subscribe to our newsletter for news and upcoming events.

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