Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, recently spoken about startups and entrepreneurship and said something about “the 4 a.m. test” as part of his philosophy. As quoted by Entrepreneur.com, Ohanian said that a business idea – or in many case a startup – must pass the 4 a.m. test. What does he mean by that?
A Changing World
We all came across problems almost every day. The problems we face may differ from time to time, but one thing remains the same: we often see problems and think that there are better ways to solve them. Unfortunately, not everyone can then make the leap and start working on better solutions that everyone else can apply as well.
This is where entrepreneurs come along.
Entrepreneurs see everyday problems and take it upon themselves to solve those problems in a much better fashion. Entrepreneurs are those who are willing to risk a portion or even all of their lives to solving a particular problem we face as a society.
The next question would be: how can an entrepreneur decide which problem to solve? How does problems that are worth solving (or solutions that are worth pursuing) be identified?
The 4 A.M. Test
The previous question brings us back to the 4 a.m. test that Ohanian mentioned in his interview.
“The advice I generally give to entrepreneurs, and I’m an investor in a number of startups, is is it really has to pass that 4 a.m. test, because this will be your life.”
Once an entrepreneur decided on a particular problem to solve, the solution to that problem will be his or her life. That includes thinking about it at 4 a.m. in the morning.
In simple worlds, if you don’t want to think about the business you are going into, or the opportunity you are pursuing, at 4 a.m., then you shouldn’t take part in the pursuit at all.
“Make sure you are putting a ring on the right one, the right problem in whatever industry, for whatever reason it is for you.”
Making a Plunge
What Ohanian said is true on every level. Becoming an entrepreneur requires a lot of commitment, and part of that commitment is the willingness to allow your business or the problem you are trying to solve be a large part of your life.
Having a good reason to get into something is always a good start; it is a good idea to know exactly why you are sacrificing so much to find a solution and whether you will be enjoying the pursuit after all.
In the end, if it doesn’t pass the 4 a.m. test, it is probably something you shouldn’t get into in the first place. If you don’t like it enough to be okay with thinking about it at odd hours like 4 a.m. in the morning, you will not be able to enjoy the process of becoming a successful entrepreneur; you may not have enough energy to support your journey into becoming a success as well.
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