Paul Graham:为什么在经济危机中创业?

作者: 阮一峰

日期: 2008年12月12日

珠峰培训

经济危机来了,人人都在问:"该怎么办?"

上个月,Paul Graham写了一篇文章,明确地说:

For a given set of people working on a given technology, the time to act is always now.

对于那些已经掌握技术的人来说,行动的时间永远是现在。

我看了以后,很受鼓舞,就将它翻译了出来。我觉得不管外界怎样变化,人生总是要努力向前走。如果你已经找到了自己的方向,实在没有理由在风雨中停下来。

至于经济危机,Thomas Friedman在一次讲座里,说过一句精彩的

A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

千万不要浪费危机。

是的,既然危机来了,就不要浪费它。旧事物衰败的时候,就是新事物崛起的良机。对于那些注定要发生的变革,危机正是最好的机会。

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Why to Start a Startup in a Bad Economy?

为什么在经济危机中创业?

作者:Paul Graham

译者:阮一峰

原文网址:http://www.paulgraham.com/badeconomy.html

发表时间:2008年10月


The economic situation is apparently so grim that some experts fear we may be in for a stretch as bad as the mid seventies.

现在的经济状况,明显很糟糕。一些专家担忧,我们大概免不了会有一段像70年代中期那样的苦日子了。

When Microsoft and Apple were founded.

微软公司和苹果公司就是在70年代中期成立的。

As those examples suggest, a recession may not be such a bad time to start a startup. I'm not claiming it's a particularly good time either. The truth is more boring: the state of the economy doesn't matter much either way.

这个事实表明,对于创业者来说,经济衰退也许并不是那么糟。当然,我不是说,经济衰退有利于创业。真相说出来,可能会让人失望:宏观经济的变化,对创业能否成功影响不大。

If we've learned one thing from funding so many startups, it's that they succeed or fail based on the qualities of the founders. The economy has some effect, certainly, but as a predictor of success it's rounding error compared to the founders.

在过去的日子中,我们对许多创业公司进行了投资。我们发现这些公司能否成功,取决于创业者的素质。宏观经济肯定有一些影响,但是起决定作用的是创业者。

Which means that what matters is who you are, not when you do it. If you're the right sort of person, you'll win even in a bad economy. And if you're not, a good economy won't save you. Someone who thinks "I better not start a startup now, because the economy is so bad" is making the same mistake as the people who thought during the Bubble "all I have to do is start a startup, and I'll be rich."

这就是说,真正重要的是你这个人,而不是你何时动手。如果你本人的素质过硬,在经济危机中你也能成功。如果你本人的素质不行,即使经济一片繁荣,也救不了你。有些人的想法是"经济状况这么糟,我最好避免在这个时候创业"。这种想法的误导性,不亚于在经济泡沫时期某些人的想法,"我只要赶上这个时候创业,就能发财"。

So if you want to improve your chances, you should think far more about who you can recruit as a cofounder than the state of the economy. And if you're worried about threats to the survival of your company, don't look for them in the news. Look in the mirror.

所以,如果你想增加成功的机会,你不应该去想经济状况的好坏,而应该花大量时候考虑,你能找到谁跟你一起创业。如果你担心你的公司会因为某种原因倒闭,请不要去看电视新闻,你只要照照镜子就够了。

But for any given team of founders, would it not pay to wait till the economy is better before taking the leap? If you're starting a restaurant, maybe, but not if you're working on technology. Technology progresses more or less independently of the stock market. So for any given idea, the payoff for acting fast in a bad economy will be higher than for waiting. Microsoft's first product was a Basic interpreter for the Altair. That was exactly what the world needed in 1975, but if Gates and Allen had decided to wait a few years, it would have been too late.

但是,对于任何创业团队来说,等到经济状况好转时再动手,难道不是一个合理的建议吗?如果你开的是一家餐馆,那么有可能是这样的。但是如果在技术领域,答案就不是这样。技术进步同股票市场的关系不大。如果你有好的想法,早动手比晚动手的回报更大。微软公司的第一个产品,是供Altair计算机使用的Basic语言解释器。这正是市场在1975年需要的产品。假如比尔盖茨和艾伦(注释:微软的另一个创立者)决定等几年再动手,那就会太迟了。

Of course, the idea you have now won't be the last you have. There are always new ideas. But if you have a specific idea you want to act on, act now.

当然,你现在的想法不等于你将来的想法。但是如果你很确定,现在就想做一件事,那么就不要等。

That doesn't mean you can ignore the economy. Both customers and investors will be feeling pinched. It's not necessarily a problem if customers feel pinched: you may even be able to benefit from it, by making things that save money. Startups often make things cheaper, so in that respect they're better positioned to prosper in a recession than big companies.

我不是说,你可以完全不管宏观经济。衰退会使得你的投资者和你的顾客,都感到手头拮据。但是,顾客感到手头拮据,其实不是问题,反而你可以从中获利,因为顾客需要更便宜的商品。一般来说,创业公司的产品,总是比原有产品更便宜。所以从这个角度看,在经济危机中,小的创业公司比大公司更容易成功。

Investors are more of a problem. Startups generally need to raise some amount of external funding, and investors tend to be less willing to invest in bad times. They shouldn't be. Everyone knows you're supposed to buy when times are bad and sell when times are good. But of course what makes investing so counterintuitive is that in equity markets, good times are defined as everyone thinking it's time to buy. You have to be a contrarian to be correct, and by definition only a minority of investors can be.

投资者不愿投资,这是一个大的问题。创业公司通常都需要一定数量的外部融资。在经济危机中,投资者倾向于不投资。但是,他们其实是错的。所有人都知道,成功投资的秘诀是,危机时买入,泡沫时卖出。但是,这就使得投资不能依靠直觉。因为在股票市场中,牛市的定义就是每个人都认为现在应该买入。如果你想正确投资,你就必须成为一个反向投资者。但是大多数人做不到这一点。

So just as investors in 1999 were tripping over one another trying to buy into lousy startups, investors in 2009 will presumably be reluctant to invest even in good ones.

所以,毫不奇怪,1999年互联网泡沫,大多数投资者会竞相买入不可靠的互联网公司。那么在2009年,投资者也会对优秀的互联网公司犹豫不前。

You'll have to adapt to this. But that's nothing new: startups always have to adapt to the whims of investors. Ask any founder in any economy if they'd describe investors as fickle, and watch the face they make. Last year you had to be prepared to explain how your startup was viral. Next year you'll have to explain how it's recession-proof.

你得习惯这一点。不过,这不算新鲜事,创业公司永远都必须去习惯那些变化无常的投资者。你随便找一个创业者去问一下,看看他们有没有抱怨投资者,有没有面露难色。前一年,你还不得不跟投资者解释,你的公司如何具备快速发展的潜力。转眼第二年,你又不得不跟他们解释,你的公司如何能够抵抗衰退。

(Those are both good things to be. The mistake investors make is not the criteria they use but that they always tend to focus on one to the exclusion of the rest.)

(这些都不能算错。投资者的错误,并不是他们选择投资的标准,而是他们总是只看到一种可能,而忽略了其他可能。)

Fortunately the way to make a startup recession-proof is to do exactly what you should do anyway: run it as cheaply as possible. For years I've been telling founders that the surest route to success is to be the cockroaches of the corporate world. The immediate cause of death in a startup is always running out of money. The cheaper your company is to operate, the harder it is to kill. Fortunately it has gotten very cheap to run a startup, and a recession will if anything make it cheaper still.

幸运的是,不管宏观经济的好坏,防止衰退是你总归要做的事情。你总归必须尽量减少公司运营的成本。多年来,我一直告诉创业者,最可靠的成功途径,就是在公司丛林中,做一只最低等的蟑螂。一旦现金告罄,创业公司就会立即死亡。你的公司运营成本越低,死亡的可能性就越小。幸运的是,创立一家公司其实花费不多,而且经济危机会使得,公司的运行成本变得更低。

If nuclear winter really is here, it may be safer to be a cockroach even than to keep your job. Customers may drop off individually if they can no longer afford you, but you're not going to lose them all at once; markets don't "reduce headcount."

就算发生真正的经济寒冬,做一只开着小公司的蟑螂,可能也比为别人打工更安全。你的客户可能因为付不出钱,而放弃你,但是你不会一会子失去全部的客户。但是如果你为别人打工,就可能被"一次性裁员"。

What if you quit your job to start a startup that fails, and you can't find another? That could be a problem if you work in sales or marketing. In those fields it can take months to find a new job in a bad economy. But hackers seem to be more liquid. Good hackers can always get some kind of job. It might not be your dream job, but you're not going to starve.

要是你辞职创业,结果创业失败,你找不到工作,那可怎么办?如果你是销售或者市场人员,这可能是一个问题。在经济危机时,找到一份新的销售工作,会花掉几个月。但是,技术人员的流动性看上去更高一些。好的工程师总是能找到工作的。你也许对新工作感到不满意,但是至少你不会饿死。

Another advantage of bad times is that there's less competition. Technology trains leave the station at regular intervals. If everyone else is cowering in a corner, you may have a whole car to yourself.

经济危机还有另外一个优点,那就是竞争变小了。技术革新的列车,总是定时从车站发出。如果有人蜷缩在墙角,不肯上车,那么整节车厢可能只有你一人搭乘。

You're an investor too. As a founder, you're buying stock with work: the reason Larry and Sergey are so rich is not so much that they've done work worth tens of billions of dollars, but that they were the first investors in Google. And like any investor you should buy when times are bad.

你本人也是一个投资者。作为创始人,你就是用工作在买入你自己的股票。为什么Google的创始人Larry和Sergey那么富有?原因并非他们的工作创造出了几百亿美元,而是他们是Google的第一批投资者。同其他投资者应该做的一样,你也应该在经济不景气时买入股票。

Were you nodding in agreement, thinking "stupid investors" a few paragraphs ago when I was talking about how investors are reluctant to put money into startups in bad markets, even though that's the time they should rationally be most willing to buy? Well, founders aren't much better. When times get bad, hackers go to grad school. And no doubt that will happen this time too. In fact, what makes the preceding paragraph true is that most readers won't believe it--at least to the extent of acting on it.

前几段我提到,有些"愚蠢的投资者"一看到经济不景气,就不愿意投资,即使那正是他们最应该买的时候。你有没有点头表示同意?不过,创业者也好不到哪里去。经济衰退来临时,黑客们会去读研究生。这次无疑也是这样。事实上,上一段能够成立的理由,正是在于大多数读者不相信这一点,至少不会在行动上实践。

So maybe a recession is a good time to start a startup. It's hard to say whether advantages like lack of competition outweigh disadvantages like reluctant investors. But it doesn't matter much either way. It's the people that matter. And for a given set of people working on a given technology, the time to act is always now.

所以,经济衰退可能正是创业的大好时机。缺少竞争是有利因素,犹豫的投资者是不利因素,很难说哪个因素份量更重一点。但是说实话,它们都不重要。重要的是人。对于那些已经掌握技术的人来说,行动的时间永远是现在。

(完)

一灯学堂

留言(24条)

Paul Graham是一个技术大牛

好文,看了很受启发。
这样跟自己说吧,辞职创业去,失败了,大不了重回打工的行列。

无语,但是现在访问这个站是带 “套”的,否则无法访问。

引用bill的发言:

无语,但是现在访问这个站是带 “套”的,否则无法访问。

应该不会啊,上海电信线路访问目前一切正常。能否告知你所在的城市?

对了,前两天DNSPOD受攻击,所以我换了一个DNS服务器。是不是因为这个原因?http://tinyurl.com/dnspod

引用老犁的发言:

好文,看了很受启发。
这样跟自己说吧,辞职创业去,失败了,大不了重回打工的行列。

先別急,人家說了:重要的是人。要麽掌握技術,要麽找個掌握技術的夥伴。在受“誘惑”之前,先認真考慮自身和外界的各種要素。 Graham先生並非支持直接一猛子跳到水裏去的。

技术啊,技术!!要掌握一门技术真不易,我这脑袋不够用啊。

有的时候就是访问不上来啊?说太深入的技术说不上来,在白天想登陆你的站点反正够困难的,防火长城太可恶了,我现在上来看就是用的就是自由门

很好啊,我转一下

说得好!其实,这就跟做人一样,任何时候,都不要放弃“勇气“。歌德说:失去金钱,你失之甚少;失去朋友,你失之甚多;失去勇气,你就失去了一切!

引用jason的发言:

有的时候就是访问不上来啊?

不应该啊。这个网志的服务器在香港,我在上海一直可以正常访问的,这意味着国内其他地方也可以,至于国外更不应该有问题了。除非你在教育网里,而且没有访问海外网站的权限……

也许是偶尔的域名解析错误吧,再刷新一次,也许就好了。

顺便问一句,有很多网友不能正常访问吗?

我在青岛的网吧上的,可以上的,没被和蟹掉啊

我是青岛网通,已经不能正常访问了。

我在桂林,可以正常访问.

网络很好,完全没有问题啊。

同意FUGUE 的观点。

河南网通
登陆正常

福建电信,可以访问

哈,阮老师,

转到5xue.com了,我这里可能得断网了哈。

上海电信,一切正常。

2009我一定要创业。

有梦想就一定要去追,我失败过,但没有放弃过,我会一直走下去,直到成功!!!

好文,问下把它复制到我的个空间可以吗?

已经成家有了孩子的人,选择创业时总是瞻前顾后的……

无关环境因素,归根结底还是自己的能力问题
技术创业不同于服务行业等,对于宏观经济的影响小得多
经济低迷时期,正是创业的好时机。民众拮据,刚创业时期的产品刚好又是符合这一定律。
危机时买入,泡沫时卖出。做好反向投资,并且不能靠直觉。
创业是自己第一次的投资,获得回报才是最丰厚的。
想到就做,不要犹豫。

我要发表看法

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