If you don't plan on getting rich (or whatever outcome you dream of) from your startup, then why are you doing it? If you want a modest outcome and to be your own boss, then start a small business. It kind of sounds like this guy failed at a couple startups and has just lost all faith in major startup success.
"I know a handful of people – including myself – who have reached for the startup life. Each of us did it for one, maybe two startups (you can only do so many before you burn out). Not surprisingly, none of us “made it.”"
Are you kidding me? Most startups fail, but you have to keep trying. If you stop after 2 startup failures, then I don't think you have real entrepreneur spirit. You need to keep going until you get what you want, even if you have to start 50 startups. And if you keep going, you will eventually get what you want, including riches. Guaranteed.
Luck isn't something that magically falls out of the sky and lands on you. Luck is a combination of opportunity and preparation.
As an entrepreneur, you need to have lofty goals. When you tell your friends and family what your goals are, you better get a response along the lines of "You're crazy, you should aim for something lower." That's a good thing. Aim high. Very high. Even if you don't get to your lofty goals, you will probably get much further than you would aiming for modest goals.
Not all small businesses dream of getting "big." In fact, very little do.
Different people have different definitions of a "startup." To me and (I think) to many others on HN, a "startup" is a business designed to scale dramatically. It's an innovative company with high-growth potential.
The new corner coffee shop would be a small business but not a startup. The owner just wants to make a decent living.