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How to Make Wealth

paulgraham.com

What Is A Startup

A startup is a small company that takes on a hard technical problem.

Economically, you can think of a startup as a way to compress your whole working life into a few years. Instead of working at a low intensity for forty years, you work as hard as you possibly can for four. 

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The Difference Between Wealth And Money

  • Wealth is the collection of resources we can use. You can have wealth without having money. Money is a way of moving wealth, and in practice they are usually interchangeable.
  • Money intermediates transactions.  In a specialized society, most of the things you need, you c...

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There is a limited amount of money in the world but wealth is unlimited. Wealth can be created through work and new ideas.

Companies aim to create wealth and so do you when you join one. In a company your work is averaged with that of others so it obscures your actual contribution.

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Joining a company is not the only way to create wealth. As long as you can create something that people want you can create wealth and for that you don’t need a company as an intermediary.

Working hard has a high individual cost but creates the opportunity to earn more wealth than on...

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To get rich...

...you need to get yourself in a situation with measurement and leverage. You need to be in a position where your performance can be measured, or there is no way to get paid more by doing more. And you have to have leverage, as in your decisions having a big effect in the final product you...

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Technology As Leverage

Technology is technique, the way we do things. New technology has its value multiplied by all those who use it. Solving a technical problem that affects many gives you leverage.

Technology changes fast, and small companies are better suited to this pace as they have less burea...

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The Role Of Big Companies In Technology Development

Big companies develop technology, but not quickly. Their size makes them slow and prevents them from rewarding employees appropriately.

They are better suited to develop technology in fields where large capital requirements prevent startups from competing. And even in those fi...

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How To Choose A Technology To Develop

Seek to solve the harder problems as they are more valuable and give your company an edge over the competition. It also increases the barrier to entry. That’s how hard it is for another company to duplicate what you’ve done.

If you can develop technology that's simply too hard for co...

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  1. Your competitors decide how hard you work. And that’s often as hard as you possibly can.
  2. Payoff is only on average proportionate to your productivity. You might end up earning as much or less than you would in a big company if the endeavor fails, and failures are common...

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  1. Minimize risks by selling your startup in the early stages, giving up upside for a smaller but guaranteed payoff. Unfortunately, big companies tend to be risk-averse, so it is easier to sell an established startup than an early-stage one.
  2. Selling allows you to diversify away f...

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Wealth and Power

Without the incentive of wealth, people would only work on projects that brought them personal satisfaction or social status, no one would want to develop mundane technologies like light bulbs or semiconductors.

The power to be re-compensated for working hard and keep wealth is what ...

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Observations On Startups

  • One advantage of startups is that they don't yet have any of the people who interrupt you. There is no personnel department, and thus no form nor anyone to call you about it.
  • Theoretically a big company could implement a startup culture and maximize profits if employees...

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