The role of luck in entrepreneurship

When I was still an accounting undergraduate student at PUC-SP the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo I had a Professor of Performance Measurement called Jose Carlos Oyadomari that used to finish his exams with these words:

Good Luck!!!
Observation: luck favors those who are prepared to receive it.

I always thought his sarcasm brilliant and I never forgot the final objective of his words. As much as I study entrepreneurship in emerging markets (or emerging countries as some people like to call it) more I think that luck play probably the most important role in the establishment of successful business ventures.

For my Ph.D. dissertation I had interviewed more than 20 entrepreneurs, very much successful in their sectors and publicly recognized by that. I am not saying that they were just lucky people. Most of them were in the right place in the right moment. Besides, due to my work in a Business School known by its commitment with entrepreneurship, I meet many entrepreneurs from different countries quite frequently. When asked, most of them answer that a good amount of people in their situation and in their place at that time would have taken similar decisions in the first years of the venture.

The implication of that is that entrepreneurs should not be as praised as unique visionaries as they often are. As Schumpeterian theory always reminds us, nobody is entrepreneur forever, just for the short period of time when they are innovating and succeeding in promote that innovation. They are just regular people that had the “luck” to be in the right place in the right moment, being, of course, “prepared to receive this luck”.

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