No, we shouldn’t do that. It’s such a big thing with no clear way to start, and no clear way to end. There’s a really big chance we could waste a significant amount of financial, temporal and emotional resources on it. It’s too uncertain and adds a whole lot of life complications to it, it takes a lot of organising, registrations, financing, commitment to something for which a future which is unproven.
Here’ a better idea. We should do a project instead. Projects are superior to businesses. Superior because they tell us more about the future. It can sample our predicted future reality and test it for truth. In addition to that it has a number of micro benefits which add up to something significant.
- A project helps us get over our inertia. It’s only a project.
- A project can be bootstrapped more heavily, as we don’t need to build in any scale.
- A project allows us to do a minimum viable product, but actually mean it, and actually do it.
- A project is not a life long commitment. We can close it off any time for any reason we choose.
- A project tells our circle and the market that this is temporary, but worth trying.
- A project doesn’t need huge resources, only enough to cover one cycle.
- A project is likely maintain momentum and energy as the finish line is in sight from the start.
- A project let’s us test our assumptions, but in the real world – the market place.
- A project can lead to a better conceived project.
- A project can lead to important collaborations and discoveries.
- A project can lead to something bigger… maybe even a business.
- A project….
In fact, when we really think about it, business is simply a project which worked well and got bigger. Or we could say that a business is a number of separate yet continuous projects linked together in perpetuity, performed by the same people and infrastructure.
And so, it’s pretty clear if we just start with a project or tow, we might be lucky enough to end up with a business.
I happened upon this video on a simple youtube recommendation. Digital serendipity. And given the title was The Greatest Speech Ever Made I decided to click in and watch.
Yes, I had heard the speech before, but what resonated with me was the newness of much of the imagery. And that it’s relevance is only more poignant today. Yes, it was a little sad, but it did remind me that the digital revolution we are living through is probably our final chance to take back control for everything BIG in our world. Big government, Big business, Big finance, Big X. Not to shut them down, not that they are evil, but that we can actually decide our own future with digital tools of aggregation. That we can self organise the social and economic structures we desire given that tools are available to everyone sometimes cheaply, and more often for free. New eco systems are required where decentralisation and democratization is the template. These wont be created by anything big, they will only ever be created by new and small things – us.
Let’s not miss the revolution and make sure that we don’t hand over control to policy makers and the NSA.
If we don’t take action now, we wont be able to action later. Don’t just watch, care enough to create. The TV can wait.
Whenever we hear this turn of phrase, it tends to be regarding a negative situation or outcome of the proclaimer.
Why was I born into a poor family?
Why did I get the cranky boss?
Why aren’t I good at mathematics?
Why am I so short?
Why don’t I have clear skin?
The interesting thing is that we never hear these people asking why they were born healthy, with working limbs, in a country without war or famine, and with a family that loves them.
No, they’d rather point out the ‘margnial’ negative facets in their life and only ever look up the ladder to people who are better off in one particular area. They forget to look down. We all have elements in our lives in which others are better off, and we all have elements in which we are better off than others. So it’s vital we look both ways, up and down, and keep a balanced perspective on life.
In fact the real why me question they might ask is why don’t I have a better attitude? And the reason they don’t ask this question is that it is something they have total control over.
Over my career I’ve worked for a number of companies, as well as my own startups. And while I invested a good number of years working for others (as an entrepreneur with 1 really big and important customer – which is how I define it any time I am employed, as we all should), I always found that I didn’t quite fit in. I never really fit the bill. Sure, I delivered, I think I even over delivered on many occasions, But I was always a problem child.
I hope for your sake you feel this way too. While it can be uncomfortable at times, it is the muse trying really hard to tell you something, and that something is this:
You are an exotic bird.
Therefore you do not belong in a cage. Therefore your output (egg) is rare. It is possibly a different colour, size, shape and taste. It’s unusual, and so they don’t know how to deal with it. It is not what they expect, and they panic and don’t know how to cook it, or sell it. If they did, they might realise your eggs are worth much more money in the right market. But chances are they’d rather sell the same eggs, to the same people they sold to yesterday. You’ve laid some of these eggs over time, but it turned you inside out…. It wasn’t really you, even though you proved you could do it. When you showed them your natural exotic output, they didn’t want it. Instead they wanted the same eggs being laid by everyone, everyday. They just wanted more of them, and at a cheaper price than yesterday.
If this feels like you, you’re not alone. And if you do manage to escape the coop, and find, or better still, build the right nest, know it will be worth the effort. Exotic birds get paid a lot more for their eggs once they are in the right environment. But in the wrong environment, they are just seen as defects.
I’m about to provide you with a report of the news for the next 6 months and quite possible eternity.
It’s all bad.
Every story, well at least those stories that don’t include baby kissing, the back page, or the lovely human interest pieces after the weather report. If it was good news, they wouldn’t bother telling us. Their job is to leverage the most basic of human emotions, and that emotion is fear. Good news doesn’t hold attention as deeply as the bad does. Our lizard brain makes sure we pay attention for survival purposes. But here is what we should do instead.
Stop watching it.
It actually wont teach us anything, and quite possibly rob us of valuable time we could be investing in real learning or actual projects. It might even have a negative impact on our psyche and chip away at our soul. We must not let that happen. As entrepreneurs we are far better off investing our viewing and reading time in specific knowledge which might solve problems. All the news does is promote problems.
Everything we would see in a news report can be garnered by scanning a news sites headlines, which takes all of 2 minutes. If there is seriously anything life threatening, we’ll find out, and then we can dig deeper. If not, we should get on with something positive. In truth the ‘news‘ should be called the ‘olds‘ because all they ever do is recycle the same old crap that adds little to no value to our personal life.
As a startup entrepreneur I often get asked if I’m coder. I used to say no. My answer used to be something like: our job as an entrepreneurs is to organise the factors of production, not be them. But I’ve recently changed my answer to yes regarding the coding question. And no, I haven’t gone out and learned PHP or Ruby or the latest groovy language.
My code is the english language. I’ve become adept at mashing up the approximate 200,000 words we have at our disposal. On the odd occasion I use the core 26 letters in the code to make up some new words that suit me. At certain times I hack together new code short cuts or ‘sound bites’ which promote and inspire a large number of actions on a simple string of a few words. The newness of the code inspires people to act in different ways.
The code I use can stimulate actions and outputs both physical and virtual. As far as I can tell it is still the greatest software code we’ve ever developed. It is totally open source and varies in its use dependent on many things including the geography in which it is used. This language code I use most often, is still the most interesting platform I’ve worked with. Even the same code, said by a different person with a different tone can have a number of different outcomes. It can even change its meaning based on who wrote it when it is exactly the same line of code. It really is worth mastering.
I sometimes use other codes, including the investing code. This one is based on a 10 point decimal number system. This code is very lucrative when you understand its depth as it pertains to equities, venture capital, property and other income streams. It’s super good to overlay the investing code on top of the English code to get profitable outcomes.
While I’m not amazing at the Mandarin code (another language platform) used in large parts of Asia and even Australia – I sometimes drop in some hacks I’ve learned which the receiving platform responds very well to. try to find ways in which different codes can be used together and interchangebly on the same platform as I find this often gets a result others just cannot garner.
Code is all around us. In many forms, platforms, typologies and physical manifestations. If you’re human you’re a master at more forms of cade than you think. And if you’re an entrepreneur the real benefits arise when we work out how to let these codes interact as an entirely new language. A language which then becomes our own personal operating system. Which when done well can even turn into a powerful personal brand. Yes, we’re all coders.
There are some things which we as humans intuitively know will occur. Almost every industry has a future state which we can see occurring at some point. While the timing might be hard to predict, the inevitability is predictable.
We can take a quick look at certain industries to provide exemplars of this contention:
- In the future cars will not run on gas / petrolium.
- In the future smart phones will be usurped by wearable computing.
- Physical retailers who compete on price with omni available goods will cease to exist.
- Leisure space travel will be within reach for the masses.
- Many (half?) companies will close offices and move to remote / choice based location working structures.
- Global virtual and crypto currencies will replace fiat currency.
- 3D printers & scanners will be as common as computers in homes & work spaces.
- Sharing economies in all industries will create resource leverage & new financial liquidity.
- Self organised banking and lending systems will emerge.
- Connected everything – chips and sensors in everything from milk cartons to t-shirts.
The list is endless. These are the ‘When & Who’ startups. Those with a high level of probability, even though it may not be us, and may not be now or next year.
Yet, many startups focus on things which may occur, based on a needed shift in human behaviour which – if it does happen will be insanely profitable. The ideas that no one has thought of (white space), where the entire prize can be theirs alone. I call it the ‘IF’ startup. Sure they are possible, yet they are improbable due to their occurrence being so rare.
So we have a choice on which kind of startup to go for. The possible or the probable. The ‘if’ or the ‘when and who’. I feel like it is a better choice to go for the inevitable, rather than the possible. It’s true that some things arrive which we didn’t see coming that change lives, the reality is that most technological curve jumps are foreseeable. As a bonus it’s usually easier to inspire our supply chain, customers and investors on highly probably events of the future. And while we all make our own market entry choices, it’s nice to go in with our eyes wide open.
‘Just some yellow rope’ – read the dialogue below between Raul and a commenter on youtube.
There are two clear points for me here.
- Be like Ross – pay attention. Lessons are everywhere.
- The solutions are almost always simpler than they seem.