Small Biz 101: No one starts with a masterpiece 17 Dec 2005
42 comments Latest by liz
In case you’re new to the Small Biz 101 series, it’s an in-the-trenches style guide to how to start your own web company, based on my experience starting DropSend and Carson Workshops. In my first two articles, How to get started and Cash flow, I covered some of the basics of how to get your company started and how to manage your cash flow.
The biggest hurdle
In this article, I’d like to focus on something that I believe holds people back from starting their own company or launching a new product or service. What is this hurdle? It’s the belief that you have to know exactly what you’re doing from day #1.
Let me explain. Think about successful companies like Ford, GE, Dyson, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Flickr, Hershey, Dell, Sun, etc. The common misconception is that the founders of these companies knew exactly what they were doing, where they were going and how to be successful when they started.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
No one actually knows what they’re doing
Every successful business has a dirty little secret: They didn’t know if they were going to be successful when they started. They probably did their homework, researched the market and had a bit of experience. But there were no guarantees
I just finished a book about Google called The Search, by John Battelle. What I learned from the book is that it’s easy to look at a company like Google and say "Larry and Sergey are so impressive. They had a vision to change the world and they did it. I could never be like that."
The truth is, they had no idea if they were going to succeed when they started. What if Larry had said to Sergey, "Hmmm, I don’t know Sergey. Surely somebody has already figured out this search thing - and they probably know what they’re doing! We’re just a couple of college kids so let’s just play it safe and get good jobs at a stable company."
This is all very similar to when you realise that your parents don’t know everything. All the sudden it hits you that there are no black and white rules and that you’ve got to start figuring things out for yourself. Starting a company is exactly the same. All those people and businesses that you look up to and respect - they’re just like you. They don’t have some special magic expertise that helps them make good decisions - they have to figure it out for themselves and hope they make the right call.
Leonardo and the Mona Lisa
I think a great example of my point is da Vinci’s masterpiece, La Gioconda, also known as the Mona Lisa. When he sat down to paint it, he had no idea that it would become one of the world’s most famous paintings.
What if he had waited until he was sure he was going to paint a masterpiece? The answer is that he probably would’ve never started.
So now what?
Where is the practical advice? To put it plainly:
Get used to being uncomfortable and not knowing how things will turn out.
It’s totally normal and it’s a good sign that you’re pushing yourself.
When you get nervous about starting your own company, or launching that new product, just remember that even the best of the best felt nervous and uncomfortable when they started. Just like you, they took a gamble and hoped for the best, with no guarantees of success.
The sooner you’re OK with feeling scared, the sooner you can get on with executing your ideas.
As usual, let me know your opinions on what I’ve said. See you next time …