By Dave Kerpen and Theresa Braun
On Friday, May 18, 2012, Facebook raised $16 billion from its Initial Public Offering (IPO), setting the record for trading volume of an IPO and becoming the third largest IPO in U.S. history. Throughout the day,Wall Street was in a frenzy and shareholders were anxious over the fluctuating stock. The weeks that have followed have been even worse for Facebook, with lawsuits and a continued stock decline.
But despite ongoing sentiments that the IPO was overhyped, fell flat, and was even “bungled,” Facebook’s debut as a public company has solidified its undeniable business success and serves as an example to every startup and entrepreneur. Here are five takeaways for entrepreneurs everywhere:
1. It’s not just the idea, it’s the execution.
In 2004, brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, former Harvard classmates of Mark Zuckerberg and founders of the site ConnectU, filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming the social network had originally been their idea. In The Social Network, Hollywood’s retelling of Zuck’s journey to success, Jesse Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg addresses the characters Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss: “If you were the inventors of Facebook,” he logically states, “you would have invented Facebook.”
It’s not enough to just think of a great idea, you’ve got to make it happen. Facebook’s success is a testament to entrepreneurial thinking paired with unwavering faith and unrelenting drive. No excuses, no procrastination, and nothing but the guts and hard work necessary to turn an idea into a tangible reality.
2. It’s okay to make mistakes.
Facebook’s success came not only in spite of, but because of early stumbles. It’s the business lessons learned from mistakes that lead to eventual success. So don’t fear failure, fear the failure to learn and to constantly improve from your mistakes.
3. Passion and vision are vital.
At last count, Mark Zuckerberg is personally worth around $15 billion. But the hoodie-wearing 28-year-old couldn’t care less about the money. What Zuckerberg cares about is Facebook’s mission. In his letter to investors included in the IPO filing, Zuck writes, “Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected.” And his intense commitment to that mission is what has propelled Facebook’s meteoric rise. On his own Facebook profile, his listed interests include, “openness” and “making things that help people connect and share what’s important to them.” Facebook is Zuck and Zuck is Facebook; their missions are one and the same.
Believe in your mission, allowing it to be the guiding force of your company. Don’t let your company’s vision become myopic and don’t ever become dispassionate about what you do. Passion is contagious, but so is a lack of passion.
4. Legitimate recognition can change the game.
From the day Facebook announced its IPO, all eyes in the financial sector were on the social media giant and the social media industry as a whole. With bankers suddenly paying attention, an entire industry has been validated. Zuck’s ringing of the NASDAQ bell rang in a new era of opportunity for tech entrepreneurs, especially those involved in social media.
5. Think big.
Mark Zuckerberg had many options to sell Facebook in its early days, but refused. Why? Because he didn’t want a big payday, he had a big dream: to change the world. Started as a personal project in college, Facebook was catapulted into rapid growth and expansion all thanks to Zuck’s ambition.
As Justin Timberlake, in his portrayal of early Facebook investor Sean Parker, pointed out in The Social Network, ”You know what’s cooler than a million dollars? A billion dollars.” Well, you know what’s cooler than a billion dollars? Fifty billion dollars. You know what’s even cooler? The impact on the world that one entrepreneur can have after achieving true scale.
It’s beyond every entrepreneur’s dream: bringing a startup in a dorm room to a $50 billion company in eight years. Beyond the stock valuation, beyond the media hype, for entrepreneurs, Facebook’s IPO is simply an inspiration to us all.
What does Facebook as a public company mean to you as an entrepreneur?
This article was originally published by Forbes on June 4, 2012.