For many entrepreneurs it starts off with that “shower moment”. You know you’re in the shower and that light bulb goes off for a great idea. We’ve all had that right? But are you willing to do anything about it? The funny thing about most of those ideas, is you probably don’t work in the industry that you are proposing to disrupt. That leads to the struggle we have all had in our own minds—a blend of logic, fear and lack of resources. I would submit however that the very things we do to talk ourselves out of something will potentially be our greatest asset. The power of not knowing any better, so let’s dive into all three of these factors.
Logic can be our worst enemy in terms of convincing ourselves that we should not take on an endeavor. That is actually a good thing given most startups fail and you want to make sure you think it through. The problem with logic is when it bleeds into peripheral aspects of the actual idea. What I mean here is when you determine that the idea is solid and potentially executable but you start thinking about your actual life and surroundings. How can I do this when I have a family to support? I have worked too hard to get the position I am in with my current company. How can I fund this when I barely have enough to put in savings each month? I have never worked in technology before and would never be able to pull this off. All these things lead to fear.
I always say that if you don’t have some element of fear, your idea is not big enough. Fear is simply the residue of courage. If you are passionate about the idea and there is a market for it, PLEASE don’t let fear stop you from taking the first step. It will be scary. It will be hard. It will be lonely. It will be exhausting. It will also be the absolute ride of your life. To pull it off in the beginning will mean saying goodbye to sleep and social life but you don’t have to quit your job to start, so that fear factor can be eliminated. Because entry into starting a business is getting easier and less expensive, you don’t need to deplete your 401 (k) right off the bat to start building a minimal viable product. There has never been more information and do it yourself services available to entrepreneurs. That leads us to lack of resources.
Lack of Resources:
I think it started with Y Combinator but it is much more wide spread than that now. Entrepreneurs started talking and more importantly sharing information. Go back 10-15 years and most first time entrepreneurs probably never knew what a term sheet looked like or what it meant. Now you can do the research to have a very good idea of what to look for when you get that first term sheet. When I first started out I had no idea how angel investing and venture capital worked or even what the difference was between the two. A couple of YouTube searches later I had a fairly firm grasp. Additionally, there is information about how to structure a company as well as do it yourself services like eMinutes and LegalZoom. You can research what entity type is best for your situation and execute on it at a greatly reduced cost. Companies like WordPress and Square Space have made it easy and cheap to get a website off the ground.
OK, so let’s assume that you made it past these factors and have decided to press through. This is where it gets interesting. You can actually take these same potential roadblocks and use them to your advantage. Logic will tell you that you don’t know anything about the industry that you are trying to disrupt but the reason your company would be able to disrupt anything is because the incumbent companies you will be taking on are stuck in the status quo and move incredibly slow. You can move very fast and test quickly. The legacy companies have proven processes for everything, but remember you don’t know any better so you just do what you think might work. I am telling you this is amazing. A lot of the things you try won’t work but it is incredibly powerful when you find that thing that does work. What is even more interesting is when you try to start a company by doing things the way the industry is already doing it in terms of biz dev, distribution and development, you will probably not succeed. It is truly the fact that you don’t know what you are doing that makes the difference and that is powerful indeed.