Some say it’s all about timing. Some argue that it’s luck. But what is luck, really? Seneca taught us that Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
Following this clue, we should be able to be lucky (and get lucky) anytime we wish. We just need to take the matters into our own hands and create opportunities.
Step 1: Imagine
I had millions of ideas – starting from buying Bejing2005.com domain two (or three) years before the actual event took place and hoping to sell it for thousands/millions just before the Olympics occurred.
Another time was when being in underground, I had another enlightenment moment.
What if you noticed a guy/girl and your eyes met – maybe you were standing in the carriage going to the opposite direction, and really really wished you have had a chance to know him/her better? Seconds later, the train moves and that chance seems to be gone forever.
I’ve started working on the idea of creating platform where people could safely localise where the “magic moment” occurred and check, if the other person is also seeking contact.
I produced power point slides to pitch the idea, created the logo, wrote initial product concept, told some of my Uni friends about it and excited – started looking for a technical person who would help me to code the app. (Back then geolocation apps were not so popular). I wanted to call it Hypnotised.
Approximately three weeks after my Eureka! moment, Stephen, my good uni friend brings me a daily newspaper and shows me the first page – Boom! There it is, a start-up (I don’t remember its name now) with the exactly same idea, which took off recently and already generated lots of news buzz. Oh well, at least my idea was valid. I moved on.
I’m not sure what happened with this start-up, probably it died announcing natural cause of death e.g. quick cash burn-out, no ability to monetize the platform, inability to raise the funds – geolocalisation apps weren’t popular at that time and people were having too many concerts regarding their privacy. Today, the worthy successor of my idea is Happn.
People will not know how much motivated and ambitious I am until I speak about it out loud. People will not support and cheer you unless you show them what you are working on. And among these people can be potential business partners, investors, or new best friends who share the same interests and experience the same struggles.
Goals that are not written down are just wishes without a deadline.
Step 2: Work your ass off
Most people never create their
Instead they get sucked into the
Dreaded vortex of passionless mediocrity.
I have an inescapable need to create. Whatever it is, I want to loose myself in the zone and perfect myself until I am proud of my work (which never happens as I’m always unsatisfied).
The Holy Grail to success is not the idea itself, however, but the execution. Almost everyone has the enlightenment moments and says he/she would love to have their own business. Most of them, however, give up shortly after they realise first obstacles and pains the execution will bring. Ever had this moment where suddenly you had this Eureka! moment and thought “Yes, I’m totally going to make it work! People need it!” The day (or few) after your enthusiasm fades and it is drown into that vortex of passionless mediocrity. Wake up, work, instant pleasure i.e. after-work drinks/dinner/movies/book/meaningless date/not-meaningless date, sleep and repeat.
I certainly can’t talk for the mass, each of us is different and differently manifests his/her believes. We all, however, aim for the same things like progressing career, starting a family, contributing to the society through acts (but maybe in slightly different hierarchy order).
I have a few friends who come up with a new idea for an “amazing, great and it-is-definitely-going-to-be-successful” project on average every week. They keep telling me about them but somehow, I don’t see them executing even one of them. I guess you too know these kind of people.
So push push push and kaizen in whatever you do.
If, however, you sleep with your idea and the day, week after you still want to do it, then probably you should not wait any longer. Embrace unknown and be naive – there will always be obstacles and most probably you will fail, but you will never know until you try. Know that your life will get harder.
Entrepreneurs suffer constant frustration syndrome. My romantic and sexual sphere are badly hurt and only other entrepreneur can understand why one would rather not want to spend time on satisfying primary/basic needs but occupy his mind with a thousand thoughts.
Ali Mese summed up it pretty nicely in his amazing article which went hugely viral – How quitting my corporate job for my startup dream f*cked my life up .
Doing your own business is tough – way tougher than I could have ever imagined. Your mind is constantly f*cked up with a million things going on inside and no other person, including your girlfriend, has a single clue what is going on in there.
If you are not single, make sure your partner understands it’s sometimes normal not to have a mindset even for a simple kiss.
Yes, for a simple proper French kiss.
Step 3: Failed? Try again. Succeeded? Keep pushing.
I truly admire Elisabeth Holmes and her start-up Theranos (now 9 billion$ company) and the way she approaches the idea of creation and innovation.
The best patent is making yourself obsolete. So the person who steals your patent steals yesterday’s technology.
I can’t really say if I failed already. I would call it loosing many many battles, but still fighting to win a war where the price is creating an awesome company and freeing myself from distractions (such as day job). I made many bad decisions. I lost time on bureaucratic battles trying to get EU grants for my startup. I hired wrong developers who more than in Evoque concept, believed in Mammon. I over-thought and overcomplicated MVP by inserting 1001 features and not prioritising them according to the market needs.
I started it all wrong, trying to push something which was broken in the first place, so no surprise I was always ending up with a Sisyphean result. At some point this year I had a motivational breakdown (but never intended nor intend to give up) and I cut myself off from things going wrong:
- One developer who couldn’t seem to find enough time to work on Evoque but in the same time, he was promising and swearing to give him more time to produce visible effects and quality code. (=Great guy but irresponsible and not reliable).
- Another developer, due to his family situation desperately needing to either Evoque starting to bring money or him working on overtime project in some other company. (This guy really believes in Evoque and apart from being an amazing person, he is an amazing developer who constantly challenges himself and learns new things. As soon as I restart fresh with Evoque, I will engage him again. We keep in touch on almost a daily basis.)
- Very important and high-ranked investor interested in putting in the money but not in the terms I wanted. (=I need visible initial traction and customer proof to better leverage the deal and have strong arguments to negotiate).
- And lots of others…
I needed to STOP. To breathe, clear my mind and put it again on the right track.
Step 4: Partner up
No one has ever done alone things bigger than himself. There is always some less or more invisible helping hand who guides you through the process and most importantly, motivates and constructively criticise you.
Few months ago I had an incredible luck to meet and know better a male business reflection of me (Hi Marcin :)) who understands my creative and thinking process and keeps up with my crazy ideas. Together we will rule the world 🙂
We both love to confront our assumptions with the market, release the features/products/thoughts/products of thoughts and be smashed by the critics. To try and fail. And try again. I know that these little masochistic tendencies will eventually lead me and him to the victory. (As long as we bring the best of each other).
Step 4: HELL YES for procreation. NO for procrastination.
We waste thousands of hours of our never returning time on doing things which we’ve already done: checking email or reading valueless, news every other minute, knowing that not much has changed, it’s definitely not going to have a huge impact on our life and won’t bring us closer to the goals we set ourselves.
We promise ourselves to start doing meaningful things… but maybe not in this very minute, maybe in an hour, or maybe tomorrow. Il dolce far niente is a silent killer but its whispers are so sweet and soothing…
I’ve always had the need to lead and create and while I always manifested my Herculean energy and enthusiasm, unfortunately I have always been silent with expressing beliefs to the mass. I found repeating out-loud fundamental, indisputable truths quite trite and unnecessary and I certainly didn’t want to sound phony. I always wanted my actions to speak for myself.
How wrong I was.
I understood I need to strip myself bare and loudly speak what do I stand for. And for me, it’s creativity, fun and innovation.
This is to the new beginning.
A new thousand one.
“The ability to perservere
Despite obstacles & setbacks
Is the most important trait
For succeeding in life.”
– Mihali Csikszentmihali!