The Forbes Under 30 Summit kicked off Monday with some fighting words from PayPal co-founder and investor Peter Thiel.
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“There’s nothing about entrepreneurship per se that is good,” said Thiel, speaking to a crowd of startup founders and CEOs.
Thiel, author of the book “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future,” explained that there are only two types of businesses in the world: ones that are in crazy competition and ones that are able to establish a monopoly in a certain field.
“If you want to compete like crazy and never make any money, you should open a restaurant,” Thiel said. Great businesses, he argued, are inherently unique.
Here is Thiel’s advice for entrepreneurs looking to build the next big thing:
No. 1: Don’t look to follow the ‘right’ formula.
Thiel said great businesses only come around once – so it doesn’t make sense to try to follow in anyone else’s footsteps.
“The next Mark Zuckerberg won’t start a social networking site,” Thiel said. As a result, Thiel said he always pushes back on the concept that there’s a straightforward formula for achieving success or building a billion-dollar company.
No. 2: Don’t make "fame" or "wealth" your goals.
“If you have that as your sole goal, you’re unlikely to really succeed,” Thiel said.
No. 3: Pick a unique problem to solve.
If you don’t start a restaurant, Thiel said, there will be plenty of people lined up to open a different one. The best entrepreneurs, he argued, are working on problems that no one else is addressing.
No. 4: Think long-term.
Thiel said many entrepreneurs get caught up in getting through the next month or the next quarter, while losing sight of the big picture.
“It’s always worth thinking ahead 5 to 10 years: Why will this be a valuable business?” Thiel said.
No. 5: A bad plan is better than no plan at all.
Junior-high chess taught Thiel a valuable lesson about strategy, he said.
“A bad plan is still better than no plan at all,” Thiel said. “If you have a plan, you can always change it, but don’t pretend you have no clue … and the future is always random.”