The Entrepreneurship Game: Time for Bushnell’s Law

Do you remember the game Frogger? If you’re of a certain age, you probably spent far too many hours with an Atari game controller in your hand, hopping across an electronic road to avoid being squished into amphibian oblivion. What was the secret to safely getting where you wanted to go?


Nolan Bushnell has started more than 20 companies, including Atari, Inc., and as you might imagine, time management has been crucial to his success. Here is what he has to say about procrastination:

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

So are you a doer? If you haven’t gotten off your butt and started doing something yet, it’s time.

Not that it will be easy. Just like the best video games, entrepreneurship follows Bushnell’s Law—it’s simple to learn and difficult to master. And that’s what makes it so rewarding.

Once you get past the glorious Big Idea phase, there’s a metric ton of tedious, mundane, nut-and-bolts type of work that needs to be done. It involves research, writing a business plan, and a slew of other boring tasks that needs to be done. And no one else is going to do it for you.

I would love to tell you that this is one of those instances where the journey is as rewarding as the destination. But let’s face it. That’s nonsense. I will tell you that there’s a profound difference between every successful person and the dozen or so others who didn’t quite make it. The successful person got their job done, and they did it right.

Consider any musician or artist in the film, television, or theater sectors. Sure, you have to be talented and a bit lucky to get in on that gig. But for every award-winning singer, writer, actor, or director, there are ten more who are equally talented (or even more talented), but they sat on their butts daydreaming and excusing themselves from the work instead of actually doing it.

There really is no cure for procrastinating except getting it done. The sense of accomplishment can be converted into momentum and then all of a sudden you’ve cultivated a habit of… you guessed it… Getting it done.

Yes. You can set smaller goals. Daily goals. Hourly goals. Make lists… all sorts of things that can plan your tedious march toward Big Idea Fruition (and eventually… Money), but to be honest, that’s often just another version of procrastinating. It’s a false equivalency in terms of accomplishment. Just identify something that needs to be done and get it done. Then move on to another. Forget about a list. Your brains, instinct, experience will tell you what needs to be done next before you start fretting on what makes more sense and essentially wind up on your butt, in front of the TV with a can of Pringles, and looking forward to that far off Day that will never come—because you’re not getting it done.

Nolan Bushnell said it all. Want to be a successful entrepreneur?

Hop to it. Just do it. And maybe next week we’ll talk about that Nike guy…