Should you build it?

IMG_0467Is it ok to build something that will probably fail? Should we as entrepreneurs only focus on what is known to have a high likely hood of success (or know to the best of our abilities will) and build from there? Is there a point to building things that will eventually just die a poor startup death with barely anyone showing up for the funeral?

This is something we’ve been pondering a lot at tenrocket.com. We work a lot of with early stage founders, mainly on their first ride around the carousel (first-time founders). We see the heart, the passion and the belief that their app is going to be the next big hit dating app of the century and everyone else is doing it wrong.

This might very well be true. It could be the next big hottness. Unfortunately that’s probably not going to happen. Their most likely going to spend lots of effort, time and money building and working on something that will be around for about a year, then die a poor death alone in a dark alley somewhere. With only the parent to morn the loss of their poor child’s death. Meanwhile people are rushing by on the sidewalk close by to the next big thing, oblivious of another death. Poor little startup.

But is this a bad thing? Some would say that they should of never attempted it in the first place. That they wasted all those resources, only to be poured into something that would ultimately die. They would of better spent that money lying on a beach somewhere, drinking piña colada’s and enjoying life.

If the gauge is all about time invested and high returns, then this probably the best approach. It’s about efficiency and effectiveness of the business. This is great in one sense, but not doesn’t really take into account the founder. But if the goal is about creating passionate entrepreneurs that build awesome companies, I think we need a different measurement.

In our case we’re hoping to build amazing fishermen. We want entrepreneurs to build lots of successful companies far beyond what we work with them on. Many come to us with no idea of where to start, recently quit their job and are embarking on a treacherous journey into entrepreneurship for the first time.

My friend has a daughter that recently turned 18. We’ve spoke a lot about recently of that need to have her fail and make her own choices, even he doesn’t agree. He can give her all the counsel in the world but she ultimately has to make the choice. If he lays down the hammer anyways he’ll potentially squash her passion and heart, at the expense of “doing the right things”.

So the question becomes how do we build better businesses and entrepreneurs? How do we help spur on the heart and passion of the entrepreneur, vs “doing everything right”. If we don’t, we run the risk of killing an idea and the entrepreneurial passion.

So what if their idea is the 100th dating app on the market that will die on launch, maybe that’s what’s needed?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Success and Entrepreneurship

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“I was not aware of how much vital energy had gone into this struggle until the struggle was removed. I was out on a level plateau with my arms still thrashing and my lungs still grabbing at air that no longer resisted. This was security at last.”
– Tennessee Willams, Catastrophe of Success

Do we really want success and all the apparent security it provides? Is it really what we need? Often you hear stories of successful people that are miserable. Why?

Let’s pause for a second and define what success is.

A. “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”
B. “the attainment of popularity or profit.”
– Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/success

Unfortunately, most of us consider the second definition without the first. Our culture cultivates in us a heart that aims for the highest dollar. That one day we’ll “make it”. Be one of the greats. Also, known as, one of the people that have amassed the most amount of pieces of paper, or rather numbers on a computer.

I as I look around to the entrepreneurs around me. I find that I end up comparing myself to their level of success. I become captured with how much money they raised with their latest round of funding, or that they struck gold in the entrepreneurship journey and now are the popular kid on the block. Unintentionally I start moving away from the heart of why I started this in the first place. Daydreaming that If I only had “their” success I could do what I wanted.

I’m not alone in this; I fear that many are under this spell in the startup community. You see it in the obsession with following other companies funding rounds. Making such a large event out of raising money, which the vast majority, watching in amazement partially with congrats but albeit mostly wishing they could do they same and putting their dreams on a detour in order to be like them.

This is not to say funding is a bad thing, I think it’s quite fantastic for its purpose. Though often the result of so much publicity around each stage of funding ends up putting many people in a trance and we end up chasing the money instead of our dreams. Focusing on success rather than doing what we love.

When we desire so much for success, often we mean we don’t want to have to struggle. Struggle to get by, struggle to build our companies, struggle to get to our dreams. We want the security afforded to us without having to deal with all the hard stuff along the way.

We try so hard to get around the messy things in our life. To have our life, our startups void of problems in order that we can finally do what we want or get to where we want to go. Isn’t it the problems that in many ways define the deepest parts of us? Where much of our lives and character are forged?

We need to be mindful of how often the lustful eye of others success can drag us to places where we don’t care to be. Causing us only to play the short game. As well as realizing that removing of the struggle shouldn’t be the point in our lives and in entrepreneurship, but rather to live fully in it.

Why are you launching your startup?

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I run a business that helps startups launch faster. I make tools for web developers. I run a smoothie shop that makes the best smoothies in town. I run an amazing web hosting company with the best rates in the industry.

These are all examples of what you do, but have you taken some time to think about why you do it? Why do you run your company? Heck why do you even get out of bed in the morning?

What I want to know is what do you believe? Why are you trying to start a company? (not just money, that will come later) Why do you care so much? Why should your company exist?

Next, why do your customers buy (or will buy) you product/service? What do they believe about you? Why do they believe in what you are doing?

My business partner Chris put me on to this video of Simon Sinek speaking about the why in our ourselves and our companies. Such good wisdom. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the what/how, buy the why is so much more important as that is what really drives us and our customers.

I realized I was focusing to much on the how/what, and if I didn’t really nail down the why now I might end up building a company that I don’t not enjoy 8 months to a year from now. Also risking selling to customers based purely on facts and figures.

Solving world hunger (or not)

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My business partner and I Chris were yapping as we always do on the train ride home about business and the coming days, and we landed on an interesting topic. Pride.

Currently both of us are working dang hard to build a startup called Tenrocket.com as we really feel its needed, and it’s a way for us to give back to the startup community. Though both of us individually have other startups that we really want to build and feel called to in many ways. Tenrocket started just as a way to give back a little and to provide some money in the mean time, unexpectedly though it’s started to really take off. Which in many ways has caused us some angst. We feel that we need to give Tenrocket the love and attention it deserves, though it is at the sacrifice of delaying the companies we’d like to build and problems we want to solve.

Which brings us to the point we spoke about on the train. Pride. Which brought up the question… Would we be ok if someone else solved the problem that we we’re trying to solve? Chris likened it to solving world hunger.

What if you felt like you had the answer to solving all the worlds’ hunger problems, you began scheming your elaborate plan to bring it to fruition. Years (lets say 3 or 4 years) into your journey, you pick up the paper and read that someone has finally done it… They have solved the world hunger crisis, all is right in the world.
Or is it? How would that make you feel? Of course you would want to be happy, but it was your dream, your idea, and someone beat you to it.

We thought about that in our own respective startups we want to launch and unfortunately it revealed that same pride. We we’re at the end of the day more concerned how others would view us in the pursuit of solving the problem, making sure we we’re outpacing anyone else in that field in order to solve it first.

Now in one part of this, pride encourages competition. It causes you to work a lot harder, press father than anyone else, and give more of your self than anyone around you. That is the blessing of competition. Though if your not careful it will cause you to focus on all the wrong things. Instead of pressing harder out of joy, you will do it out of fear. Instead of staying up late because you can’t wait to release the next part of your product, your doing it out of worry that someone else is going to release it first. You start noticing more about what others are doing in your field stressing that they are doing to get ahead of you. You start to lose the real reason you began in the first place, out of passion for building something amazing to solve a real need, and ultimately helping and serving others.

Both of us realized that this was affecting us more than we’d like and decided to make sure we’re pursuing all our ideas with passion and peace, not out of stress and worry, that it just wouldn’t be worth it if we’re not enjoying it. Because isn’t the journey the most important part of this whole process anyways? At least that’s what everyone tells me…

The hot sauce dilemma. Why it’s hard to decide.

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Decision
1. a judgment, conclusion, or resolution reached or given; verdict
Origin: from Old French, from Latin dēcīsiō, literally: a cutting off;

One of my famous conundrums that I face daily, is which hot sauce to dash upon my dish.

“mmm this would taste great with Sriracha.. well it would also taste great with that new jalapeno sauce I just got.. Although the chili sauce would taste great too…”

So instead of deciding I will end up bringing all 3 hot sauces to my table so I can try each one of them, to find out which one was the best. Indecision much? Although I do provide some amusement to my wife with my pack of hot sauce at our table, I began to think through why I needed all 3 hot sauces there.

One word. FEAR

Although it seams silly and maybe a little blown up a bit as all it is, is hot sauce. I realized though I was worried about not finding the perfect hot sauce fit for my plate of goodness. Ultimately I was afraid of making the wrong decision. 

Since realizing this I started consciously picking one hot sauce to adorn my meals, and force myself to make a decision and stick with it. Although I’m talking about hot sauce, it begs the question.

“In what areas of your life do you have trouble deciding and sticking with something?”

Making this simple decision has cascaded into other areas of my life especially business, and caused me to rethink the hows and whys of the decisions I’m making.  I’m getting a lot better at making decisions as a result of this, my slight obsession with hot sauce on the other hand… still gottta work on that.

When to Jump

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Something recently I’ve been pondering over is the concept of when the right time to launch is. One of the big things pushed in the startup world is the concept release “early and often”. Which I’m finding out sounds great in theory but harder in practice (or so it seams).
Push it out it will be great! Bugs? Smmeh….

My previous work a large corporation felt like the exact opposite of this. You get to push when you have bug tested it yourself, had it peer reviewed, sent it to QA, get a managers approval, deploy it, personally verify it in production, have QA verify it in production. Phewy. Thats a lot. It was often a long drawn out process that I highly disliked. Though it was something so burnt into my brain that coming into the startup world I’ve had to unlearn. In many ways its made me gun shy. Great for corporations bad for startups?

I had a great experience on a recent project I was developing for a client. The client was pretty outspoken about getting just getting it out. I was barely finished with the project and hadn’t fully bug tested it, yet the client just told me to launch it. I’m well… ok. There we’re definitely bugs, but once thing it didn’t get rid of real fast was the idea that everything had to be perfect. Also that if there were bugs that all of your customers somehow will leave you. Again, not true.

Of course you don’t want everything to be crap. But everything has to start somewhere. Maybe being crappy is better than not launching at all. At least you actually launched right? It hits right at the core of why most startups don’t go anywhere, because your a sissy little girl that’s afraid to make mistakes. (No offense any sissy little girls actually reading this)

Power Posing, Working your Inner Muscle

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I stumbled across a Ted Talk this morning, and it described something that I’ve been realizing over the last couple of months.

You mind controls your body, but also your body controls your mind.

For the last 2 to 3 months I’ve doing power moves and or power poses almost every morning. As someone who has struggled with anxiety, depression and general self confidence, I’m seeing some real progress for the first time in my life. It’s shifting my mindstate. I’m finding each day that I’m not struggling with the anxiety or the depression that I used to deal with. The cascading affect of this is that now I’m making decisions that I wouldn’t have 2 or 3 months ago and not just daring to dream big, but actually taking action on the dreams that I create, because now I believe I can actually pull it off.

What I’m seeing is just like working your body, you must work out your mind. In this way your using your body to do so. Your body/mind is used to being in the place it normally goes to (confident or un-confident, victorious or defeated) and you need to work it into a new state. It will feel weird at first and it will require practice, but you’ll find within even a couple days your confidence growing and your anxiety decreasing. Try it out and let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear how it’s shaped your life.