When I was starting to take my work at Gistcaster serious enough and thinking of raising some money so that I could turn it into a ‘real’ startup, I started reading about how to pitch investors and close funding rounds.
Then one day, I stumbled upon an article by Greg Gianforte on bootstrapping a business. Inside the article, these words called out to me: “most people think what they need is money when they have not even solved the business equation”
I found those words to ring true.
You meet people who tell you they have these startup ideas and how it will change the world and all that, but beyond their words, there is no substance. Just empty words.
They are yet to actually develop a serious business framework that will work. A business without well defined business models and revenue streams is not a business, it is a busyness!
Money is not a silver bullet that will solve every problem. Money will not do for you what proper market research and analysis should do for you.
So, maybe you don’t need the money as badly as you are thinking. Solve your business equation first.
I take a lot of things for granted.
You do too.
We all do.
One of the most important phone calls I got last year was from my 5 year old niece, who called me on my birthday. When I was 5 years old, I did not even know what a telephone was.
Today, it is easy to forget that things we cannot live without: our mobile phones, the internet, Air Conditioners and even electricity itself were all created in the not-too-distant past. 20 years ago, there was no Google search. Things we take for granted today would sound like a miracle to those earlier eras.
Yesterday, mankind took another giant leap towards a new form of technology that I suspect will be a big deal: Virtual Reality.
Yesterday, the future became the present. We have gone from “one day, we should be able to do this” to having people actually try to build it out to now rolling it out to final consumers.
Let me try to explain what Virtual Reality (VR) is. Virtual Reality allows you to plug into a whole new world, the set looks like giant eye glasses which you wear over your eyes and ears. It completely replaces what you can see and hear. It is totally immersive.
Whenever I think about how much our world will change because of this new technology, I am wowed. This is the closest thing we have right now to teleportation. You could easily take a trip to space and see everything in real life scale and proportions, you can pay people virtual visits around the world and hangout.
It will change live events in a lot of ways when (or rather, if) it goes mainstream.
It is also not lost on me that one day, the Virtual Reality technology (if it works) will become stale, old and also taken for granted…
Then we’ll start looking for the next big thing.
I believe that to be massively successful, you need to make one or two game changing moves.
Completely change the rules of the game or the playing field or both. This is what cements a place for you.
Game changing moves weakens the competition extensively, uprooting the establishment and crowning new kings.
Making a game changing move is not difficult, in theory, anyone can do it. It simply requires thinking differently, looking outside-the-box and having the boldness to act it out.
To change the game, you would need to constructively take-apart the game and understand it well. Then study the top guys, find their weak spot and ride to the top by exploiting the loop holes.
All the companies that changed the game followed this plan. Amazon, Facebook, Google and co. They made smart moves that left their competitors in the cold.
Today’s easter break is held in remembrance of a game changing event that happened thousands of years ago. A powerful move that changed the game’s rules and the playing field altogether. Only The Divinity could plan and execute such a bold move.
The other side never saw it coming.
No matter how big or small your playing field is, you need to look for how you can perform a game changing move. That’s what can keep you in the game for long and on your own terms.
I am losing my patience with people who are starting their ideas “soon”. Soon, an undefined time in the future that could be 9 months, 3 years or 25 years.
Just pick a date.
Pick a kick-off date.
Pick the date and sincerely work towards setting out on that date.
Commit to starting on that date regardless of whether it feels finished or not. Just commit to the date and start the journey.
In my 10 years of building stuff, I’ve learnt that it is not money or time or resources that stop projects. It is that decision to pick a date.
If you haven’t picked a date, then we all know you are really stalling…
A lot of people are locked in the wrong relationships, wrong jobs, wrong partnerships and it seems there’s nothing they can do about.
Moving on almost seems impossible.
Opportunities present themselves every now and then, but for the person “locked in”… He cannot make any fresh headway.
Here’s the thing: every commitment, every decision we make is probably the best (or the most appropriate) one we can make right now based on available information and experience. However, as more information is received, we should know that things are changing.
We must not allow people to co-opt us into their operations and then deprive us a chance to move on if something bigger presents itself.
(This is why we encourage people to pray before they marry, you want to be sure both of you will continue to remain relevant to each other for life… A marriage contract is not like any other contract you know?)
It is not about been selfish and wanting to move on. It is about catching a glimpse of a vision that appeals to your heart and wanting to respond to it.
Locking in to mediocre ideas, jobs, relationships and *insert more words* here is a killer. It wrecks you in the short term and drains your life force in the long term.
Anybody who is going to thrive in business has got to be bold.
As you take strides in your business, you are bound to face all sorts on the road. You should brace up for impact against the good, the bad and the plain ugly.
Boldness is needed to continue to head out everyday to do that which you everyday, from one rejection to the other, from one disappointment on to the other, you must have the boldness to continue to work. You must be bold enough not to give up.
You must have the boldness to go for something big.
You must not be too timid to pitch to certain clients because you feel you are too small or you cannot handle it.
If you cannot be bold, you do not have any business in this line of work.
I wholeheartedly subscribe to the view that anything that will become great has to be a daily affair.
I also love the viewpoint of “line upon line, precept upon precept. A little here, a little there”
The journey to move from unremarkable to remarkable is all about little daily improvements that are nearly unnoticeable.
It is not practical to think you can learn all you need to learn about business from a few seminars or a few books. It needs total immersion, seeking out knowledge on a daily basis, getting better and making progress.
What have you committed to do every single day?
By default, human beings want to do the least amount of work needed to be done inorder to get some result.
It is not laziness. Its energy conservation (LOL)
So, many people also set out in business with the same mentality: what’s the easiest way to start a business?
The challenge with these is that you will end up in a crowded market. You’ll all be fighting for low hanging fruit… The base of the market.
The businesses that can be done will be the common businesses, things everybody already know well and do.
If there are too many people offering what you offer and you don’t have a clear way to differentiate yourself, you won’t be able to price your products/services effectively.
The alternative: move higher! It takes more thinking, planning, (prayer and fasting) to move up. Not everyone wants to spend that energy.
Becoming stronger in mind, body and spirit requires engaging in rigorous challenges.
Strength is acquired, it cannot be donated.
My father cannot confer upon me his many years of experience in civil engineering. He’s been building before I was born!
In as much as we need to seek out mentors and work with some guidance, there’s still some things we’ll just need to experience by ourselves.
When we take on challenges head-on and not try to dodge or pass it on to someone else, we begin to accumulate strength. The challenges popping up left, right and center are actually helping you become a stronger man
That is why you need to get out of your comfort zone! Nothing interesting happens there!
Every bottleneck we face on our way tasks us to rise up to the challenge and solve it. Its either you solve it and move on to the next level or you goof and have to ‘try again’.
Many people think having a problem-free life is the ultimate, its not. God allows us to encounter various challenges so that we may learn and become strong.
Unlike the educational system that seeks to promote everybody at the end of every academic year, the lessons and goals God expects us to complete are not waived. If you do not learn the things you need to learn on-time and move on. You get stalled.
The journey ahead is much more than the little we’ve covered and so, we need all the strength we can develop.