Once upon a time – as all good stories go – Apple was 2 blokes in a garage in San Francisco. It was 1977 and their computer was made of wood! Just over 40 years later Apple has 132,000 employees world wide, and last years turnover was US$265.595 billion dollars. Once upon a time, Apple Inc. was a startup. Richard Branson started out in London selling Christmas trees and budgies – and failed.
His now iconic Virgin label dates back to 1972 and Virgin Records – a label he started, and which subsequently signed the Sex Pistols, Mike Oldfield, the Rolling Stones and UB40 – amongst others. Virgin Group now has around 71,000 employees world wide and its 2016 turnover was £19.5 billion. Once upon a time, Virgin Group was a startup.
Startups inspire! They grab you by the throat and demand attention. They keep you awake at night and consume every waking hour. They dominate, provoke … and fall over? Imagine starting your car … and then just sitting there consuming expensive fuel and wasting your day. If I didn’t know any better, I’d call that a sin. About 20 years ago I was at a seminar called the Three Mikes – one of which was Mike Pero. He mentioned that every time he came up with a new idea, he’d start a folder, register a domain name, and then start collecting ideas and notes until such time as he could focus on it. That caught my attention and I’ve been using that model ever since. The last time was just a few weeks back, when I decided to start a blog writing service. Now why would I do that – I’ve never read a book in my life!
But I love expressing myself in words, and I’ve published over 2,000 blogs on my many websites. Some go back 20 years, and are still getting attention today! Now ‘Blog Writers New Zealand’ – blogwriters.co.nz – exists, and I have 5 wordsmiths all waiting with a pen and paper to do your bidding.
But wait there’s more … and I’m not talking about a free set of steak knives! I recently launched both an online dating coach service and a Shopify shop selling phone accessories. Then there’s ELITE : SIX, my camping and electronics stores, and my travel site that’s now over 20 years old. Can you see the picture here? I know about this stuff because I’ve been involved in it since the Internet was in nappies – now it’s a hormone-driven stroppy teenager! But I know my skills and the tools in my toolbox. I know what drives me and how to focus. I’ve learned to do the 2-minute jobs straight away, rather than let them pile up – if I take too big a bite of the apple, then I can’t get through it all. I allow myself about 2 weeks from start to launch, any more and I feel it wasn’t feasible and needs more thought – and that’s when I reach for another folder.
Startups – by definition – can’t remain startups. Startups must either fly or die – and the only reason they won’t succeed is if you don’t finish what you start – In my case, they are the process and product of my experience, observations, and lessons learned, the outcome of my input. The road from idea to startup is not easy – that is what the folder is for – as more often than not the time is not right. The trick then is to learn to read the signs – and then to be ready when they’re pointing in the right direction. ‘Start’ and ‘up’ – combined with timing, folders and self awareness – takes an idea to reality in about two weeks. Any longer and I either fly, or reach for another folder. You could simply say, do your feasibility before you start!
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