Predicting success and failure
"So if you invent a new type of umbrella, for example, and every person who sees it says “that is clearly better than all other umbrellas on the market” then you have nothing. Walk away. But if someone who barely knows you demands to buy six of them for everyone in his family, and doesn’t first ask the price, and is willing to drive to your house to pick them up, then you might have something. Great ideas catch on immediately, and passionately, at least with the early adopters."
I couple this with a post from YCombinator's Paul Graham on startup mistakes (thanks Jeffrey for the lead). Paul lists 18 mistakes he believes bury potential businesses from succeeding. He saves the most impactful fatal mistake for last - "A Half Hearted Effort". At the multiple start-ups my wife or I have been involved in, building a founding team that 1) trusts each other and 2) are fully committed was tantamount. Unfortunately, we found it hard to find both. Because so many elements of a founding team are ridiculously important (i.e. product development, QA, sales, customer management, etc), if the engineer or rainmaker aren't plugged in, it often doesn't matter how passionate you are on your own... If the second, third or fourth leg of the table doesn't match the others, the platform is set to fall. We would waste 3-9 months looking for, signing, managing and ultimately firing engineers, sales people, and marketers who were bad fits for the sake of expediency. Frankly, it would have been better to screen much harder at the outset... Great hindsight is such a drag ;)