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What Is Success to You?

“Tell me what success is, and I am not counting money as part of this. I want to know what you want to achieve, what is driving you.”

This was my quick ask to an entrepreneur I sat down with recently to discuss his ambitions and venture.

Tienhaara: People is the most important asset. Always treat others respectfully.

I do believe it came a bit as a surprise to him, he was ready to pitch his company to me and wanted 15 minutes of my time. Actually turning the discussion to understanding what drives him and what he seemed as a success was probably much more rewarding and interesting for both of us. We ended up talking for more than an hour. And I learned a lot myself.

When you are an entrepreneur, you have to think long-term. What are your passions? What do you LOVE to do?

This is essential, as first of all, 90% of all startups fail; secondly, the bulk part of value is created after 10 years. It means you need to have grit, passion, and persistence. Find the right team, including the investors you want onboard. And surviving to year 10 and beyond by preserving cash and not attempting a scaleup is not the recipe. You have to press hard, a “counter-pressing” business concept, where you take out the maximum capabilities of your team and ensure that all activities are creating value. That is the true LEAN. (NOTE: The whole lean thinking I will return to in separate articles).

And this is probably the scariest and most difficult you can do in business, along with being a disruptor with a big idea. But you learn massively from this, it is so rewarding in many ways.

So back to my conversation with this amazing entrepreneur. What did he answer?

I got some wonderful answers:

— I want to enable others to be successful (his company is providing services to other startups)

— I want to help others (he is very human-centric)

and with some help, we also added:

— I want to help solve problems that contribute to making our society better.

The above resonates extremely well with me. We live in very exciting times, the transitions and disruptions are all around us. Being dynamic and responsive is part of the DNA today.

At the same time, I learned a few things about business models, embedding and selling skills with empathy.

What is success to you?


Mika is a serial entrepreneur with successful exits, commercialization of some 30 products and technologies, run operations globally and an advisor and mentor over the years for some 100 startups.



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Mika Tienhaara

Mika Tienhaara

Award-winning serial entrepreneur building globally leading B2B companies. Innovator and disruptor with more than 30 products and technologies commercialized.