Do Things, Tell People
“You would not believe how much opportunity is out there for those who do things and tell people. It’s how you travel the entrepreneurial landscape. You do something interesting and you tell everyone about it. Then you get contacts, business cards, email addresses. Then you get contracts, job offers, investors, whatever. You make friends who think what you do is cool. You make a name for yourself as “the person who did that cool thing.” Then, the next time someone wants to do something in any way related to that cool thing, they come to you first.”
Why You Need Your Own Company
“Then I realized why I need to start a new company. Not for the money. Not because I’m “bored”. But because a company is a laboratory to try your ideas.”
I finally got being a good startup founder down to two words: relentlessly resourceful… Not merely relentless. That’s not enough to make things go your way except in a few mostly uninteresting domains. In any interesting domain, the difficulties will be novel. Which means you can’t simply plow through them, because you don’t know initially how hard they are; you don’t know whether you’re about to plow through a block of foam or granite. So you have to be resourceful. You have to keep trying new things.
Black Swan Farming
The best startup ideas seem at first like bad ideas. I’ve written about this before: if a good idea were obviously good, someone else would already have done it. So the most successful founders tend to work on ideas that few beside them realize are good. Which is not that far from a description of insanity, till you reach the point where you see results. Peter Thiel… drew a Venn diagram that illustrates the situation perfectly. He drew two intersecting circles, one labelled “seems like a bad idea” and the other “is a good idea.” The intersection is the sweet spot for startups.
How to Get Startup Ideas
The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they’re something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook all began this way.
This is Why the American Dream is Out of Reach, Alone
Where Scott is going wrong is not that he is holding out for a “better” job that isn’t there; he’s holding out for a job that shouldn’t be there. We don’t need more corporate management guys. The 1980s business schools created a market for those ideas (and graduates) and America quickly became a “management” country, at the expense of everything else. What we need are more businesses.
Scott and his friends… are in the best position imaginable: young, smart, living debt free with their parents. Four of these guys, each borrowing 10k personally (at 4% — $400 a year to pursue your dreams?) they will have 40k startup capital to do anything they want. If they’re really serious, they could indeed do anything, from putting out a comic book to starting a high end tutoring/home schooling service (pays the bills at the Washington Post!) to integrating Flash with the iPad to inventing something to whatever etc, etc, what, you need me to hand you ideas as well? If they are serious, they cannot fail, and if they do fail, we have the most liberal bankruptcy laws on the planet. The point of those laws is to encourage you to try. All the pieces are in place for success at almost no risk. And he’ll be a better man just for trying.
You Weren’t Meant to Have a Boss
I was in Africa last year and saw a lot of animals in the wild that I’d only seen in zoos before. It was remarkable how different they seemed. Particularly lions. Lions in the wild seem about ten times more alive. They’re like different animals. I suspect that working for oneself feels better to humans in much the same way that living in the wild must feel better to a wide-ranging predator like a lion. Life in a zoo is easier, but it isn’t the life they were designed for.
The Best Entrepreneurs are Older, Have Less Ego
The best entrepreneurs are ones who work in their field first, gaining valuable real-world knowledge and experience for a decade or more… Every year of life improves an entrepreneur’s chances up until 40, but they don’t diminish thereafter. Take heart, grey-haired founders!
How to Become your own Boss
Identify the Right Business for You.
Give yourself permission to explore. Be willing to look at different facets of yourself (your personality, social styles, age) and listen to your intuition. We tend to ignore intuition even though deep down we often know the truth. Ask yourself “What gives me energy even when I’m tired?”
How do you know what business is “right” for you? There are three common approaches to entrepreneurship:
Do What You Know: Have you been laid off or want a change? Look at work you have done for others in the past and think about how you could package those skills and offer them as your own services or products.
Do What Others Do: Learn about other businesses that interest you. Once you have identified a business you like, emulate it.
Solve a Common Problem: Is there a gap in the market? Is there a service or product you would like to bring to market? (Note: This is the highest-risk of the three approaches.) If you choose to do this, make sure that you become a student and gain knowledge first before you spend any money.
Having a project of your own adds incredibly to the quality and interest-level of life. In moment of reverie, in reading or watching films ideas of how to improve my project often come to me. It provides a sense of continuity to life, a sense of progress and purpose and independence.