Turns out it was pretty cool, he did a good job of promoting our stuff, but there wasn’t a huge upswing in members or rentals. Which is OK – it wasn’t a game winning activity. It got me thinking about our attitudes towards instant gratification. We live in a world where we want and expect instant gratification. In nearly all things. It’s not hard to understand why with Google results, instant video, mobile technology that we want our answer right now, or we’ll move on.
This has a dangerous implication for entrepreneurs – in that the business world doesn’t work this way. Sure we need to move quick, finish things fast, and innovate constantly – but this still wont (or very rarely) will deliver instant results. We need ignore all the stories we read about our heroes who ‘did’ have things work out rather quick. They are the 1 in 6 billion aberration – and believe me it is not us – we are not that lucky. And it is luck, not brilliance. Proof of this lies in the fact we all know a handful of equally brilliant people who haven’t had the luck of Zuckerberg or Sergy.
We need need instead is to stay the course, and have faith in our actions. We must celebrate effort rather than results. Because there is no telling when the results will actually appear. But if we do the right things they will come to fruition. Success which may not be the global type entrepreneurs like dreaming about – but success to a level of great satisfaction.
We again can look to nature to see this in action. If we took societies instant gratification ethos into growing our food we’d all starve to death. In nature things take many months at a minimum, many years as the usual, and oft times, many years before we will yield anything. Whether we are growing vegetables, crops or fruit, we have to believe that doing the right thing will result in in just rewards. But we will not see the rewards until a long time after the input of our efforts. Efforts which must be made consistently every day with nothing to show for it. We must have faith that that the results will eventually come. Without faith the motivation to continue the nurturing will be lost. We wont do what is needed and the crop will fail. There is no instant reward in nature.
And there is rarely an instant reward in business. We need the same faith we have in nature when we know we have the right ingredients. We must continue to attend to the field regardless of physical evidence of success. We must celebrate effort and not results. Only then will we have the patience and tenacity required for a financial yield.
When starting out in business the first thing we often do is set up the relevant legal structures:
- Partnership agreement
- Logo design
- Business name registration
- Operating company
- Holding company
- Non disclosure agreement
- Holding company trust
- Member terms & conditions of product / web usage
- Specific bank account
- Small business book keeping software
- insert other legalese business recommendation here
Startup blog advice is this: Don’t waste your time or money. Get revenue first, register later.
With the only possible exception being a .com registration – which if you’re in the on line world may be an actual requirement to simply operate. No doubt this is contrary to all you’ve read in business guides. Sure, keep accurate cash flow books, run things professionally and stick to project deadlines. The reason for the recommendation is pretty simple. Most startups never get to revenue. If you’re like me you have a hard drive full of business ideas, half written business plans, and a spare room full of product prototypes. Until we have revenue (which doesn’t mean a couple of orders, it means thousands of dollars) we have nothing to protect. It also adds a strong reporting and administration burden which startups could well do without.
So why waste time and money building a fence around nothing? Build the castle first, or at least get the foundations in place. If we follow the lawyers advice, they may be the only people who ever make money from the venture.
Lately I’ve been overly focused on urgent things. Urgent agenda items, like fixing bugs, invoicing and administration. They’re kind of like fires, so we must attend to them or things could quickly get out of control. The problem with urgent tasks is that they never go away, they re-appear day after day, and stop us from working on the real projects which will generate value for our users, members customers. In fact, when we are working on the urgent, we are ignoring the important.
So what we must do is set up systems and infrustructure which deal with the urgent, systems which remove us from the path of the urgent, only then we can focus on delivering value which will result in real startup objectives being met. So today we should stop for a moment and look at our task list. If it seems dominated by the urgent, we shoud re-callibrate it to focus on the important, which may invovle setting up the systems needed to stop the folly.
In start up land the most important thing we can do is do things fast. It’s the opposite of the perfectionism we learn in graduate school and large corporations especially as it pertains to marketing.
So the startup blog explanation of my above chart goes something like this:
No project, task or strategy is ever perfect. Even if we spend a large amount of time developing it. At best it will be around 90% of what we need or imagine. If we cut the available amount of time in half (which is this example is 6 weeks) we may be able to achieve 70% of the desired outcome. But what option 2 presents for us is the ability to learn and revise quickly. In fact we can launch another version (version 2.0) of said project for another 70% progression.
The net result is pretty simple – we’ll be a progression of 140 vs 90. Pretty simple. And in startup land the reality is we often don’t know how effective something will be until it is implemented, and from here the lessons will emerge. In addition it moves us up the learning curve and in all probability the next implementation will be far more effective than the first.
The other fact we have to consider is that speed is important for our customers. They like to see progression, even if it is less than perfect. They know things are improving and that we are making stuff better for them. It’s also far less confusing to deal with incremental consistent change than it is a total re-design. We also remove the risk of better ideas and methods putting a kibosh on doing anything at all and creating inertia.
And this is why in startup land, speed wins.
Here’s a really interesting set of lyrics by David Byrne from a Talking Heads song ‘Seen & sot seen’.
It talks about a person’s ability to change themselves, in particular a persons face.
He would see faces in movies, on t.v., in magazines, and in books….
He thought that some of these faces might be right for him….and
Through the years, by keeping an ideal facial structure fixed in his
Mind….or somewhere in the back of his mind….that he might, by
Force of will, cause his face to approach those of his ideal….the
Change would be very subtle….it might take ten years or so….
Gradually his face would change its shape….a more hooked nose…
Wider, thinner lips….beady eyes….a larger forehead.
He imagined that this was an ability he shared with most other
People….they had also molded their faced according to some
Ideal….maybe they imagined that their new face would better
Suit their personality….or maybe they imagined that their
Personality would be forced to change to fit the new appear-
Ance….this is why first impressions are often correct…
Although some people might have made mistakes….they may have
Arrived at an appearance that bears no relationship to them….
They may have picked an ideal appearance based on some childish
Whim, or momentary impulse….some may have gotten half-way
There, and then changed their minds.
I’m not sure if this version of events is actually possible, but I am certain we can change.
We can change to become what ever we desire to be for our community.
We can change to become what ever we desire to be economically.
David Byrne – circa 1980
Here’s some radvertising I just made for my start up (well business now, more than startup) rentoid.
It’s zero budget and within 30 minutes of posting it already had around 1000 eyeballs across it – not bad.
Do you like it?
This is brilliant – in fact Paul Graham from Y combinator has summarized the startup blog belief system in these 13 sentences, which kinda makes me wonder how I’ve managed over 700 entries on this here little blog.
Click on the link below and watch Paul actually write about startups in 13 sentences. Just awesome
Here’s some simple advice when seeking investors for your startup.
Never use the words ‘The Next’…
Regardless of the uber successful business which follows these two words it just isn’t going to happen. For two reasons. The first is our probability of being this successful is almost non existent. Secondly if we are this successful, we wont be the next, but something new.
The main point is when people use the words the next, they lose credibility. And when someone says it to me regarding their new business venture, I find it hard to believe anything they say after that.
What does great packaging look like?
Chances are you will have to package your widget for your start up. Or at least something in your new business. I often ask people the best packaging they have ever seen. Coming from a consumer goods background I get a lot of varied answers, but never do I get the answer I propose the be the ultimate.
Easy opening, but only when it’s ripe
Consume straight from packaging
Changes color from green to yellow as it nears its zenith
Quality of each unit verified by packaging
Built in ‘used by date’ indicator – packaging changes color – so awesome.
Gives off product fragrance
Uber Ergonomic design & handling
Ship in packaging with mutlipack nesting design
Oh, I nearly forgot, good for slipping enemies in a car chase.