The Bird-in-Hand Principle


How do you start a company? Do you start it with a GREAT IDEA?

Experienced entrepreneurs START with WHAT THEY HAVE.

How do we know this?

Professor Saras Sarasvathy, who teaches at The University of Virginia Darden School of Business, has studied successful entrepreneurs. She has learned how they think and how they make decisions.

Experienced entrepreneurs start with their MEANS and RESOURCES:

  • WHO THEY ARE – their character traits, tastes, and abilities.
  • WHAT THEY KNOW – their education, training, expertise, and experience.
  • WHO THEY KNOW – their family, friends, neighbors, teachers, and others.

Professor Sarasvathy calls starting with what you have the BIRD-IN-HAND PRINCIPLE, based on the proverb, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

First, entrepreneurs make a list of their means and resources.

Then they think about what kinds of things they could do with those means and resources. They imagine different possibilities. Their ideas change as they go along. They become better and better.

GREAT IDEAS rarely start as great. For example, Nintendo started by selling playing cards. Today, Nintendo makes gaming consoles and bestselling games like Animal Crossing and Pokemon.

Entrepreneurs often start small. They move into action and learn by doing. Then, they invite those who want to work with them.

You, too, can learn how to start a business. Anyone can.

So what is your Bird-in-Hand? Ask yourself:

  • What do I have? Make a list.
  • What can I create with what I already have?