These days, the fear is still there, but I’m better at reminding myself that it’s likely trivial. I’ve found it helps to ask, “what’s the worst thing that can happen?” Then, I’ll break that down and think about how we’d respond if that thing happened. 9 times out of 10, the fear is overblown and unlikely. Even if it is likely, it’s rarely worth being afraid of. The worst outcome is usually little more than a few extra hours of work answering emails or making changes based on customer feedback. When you look at it that way, even the worst case really isn’t that bad.
Everybody’s turning five lately.
The role of luck in success or failure is underestimated. You have a good idea? You are the smartest guy you know? You have a mature business advisor? So you think, “The ‘most companies fail’ rule does not apply to my company.”
You have wildly underestimated the role of luck.
Everything he said. Except the part about not starting a company. You* should do that. It’s a lot of fun. It’s hard, but there are many ways to minimize the risk.
- Be honest with yourself. Are you the type of person who can run a business? Are you really better than the competition?
- Open a business, not a startup. When Jay and I left our jobs to open Full Stop, we were jumping into a well-established industry, one in which we could tout significant experience.
- Keep costs under control. Our startup costs were low. Try, a-couple-MacBook-Pros-and-home-Internet-connections low. We didn’t even bother with an office for the first two years.
- Do it on the side. More patient, risk-averse people than ourselves can build up savings, clients, and connections all while working for someone else.
Yes, this is what we did. Yes, we were fortunate. For every piece of good fortune, however, I can point to three or four pieces of bad fortune. Jobs we had signed, sealed, and delivered that vanished. Products we hoped would contribute meaningful revenue that were hijacked. Assumptions and predictions that went sideways.
I was a 24-year-old kid when we started our company. We made mistakes. You will make mistakes. You’ll also learn a lot. If you want to start a company and you can afford to start a company, do it.
*But, no, seriously, you probably shouldn’t start a company the day you graduate college. Go get a job and see the good, the bad, and the ugly for yourself.
Things are better than they’ve ever been. But after 25 years of client service I am burned out. I don’t want to be chained to a role I can’t stand anymore as my price for staying. So to hell with having an exit strategy. I have an irrelevance strategy and it’s in full swing.
In January of 2011 I set a secret goal of doing nothing. Every time there was an opportunity to give the team control I did. It was messy. It didn’t always work. But over several months things began to click. Finally the day came where I realized I had handed over all but the final responsibility. That was six weeks ago.
Step one of being in business is deciding what you want.
The period was always the humblest of punctuation marks. Recently, however, it’s started getting angry. I’ve noticed it in my text messages and online chats, where people use the period not simply to conclude a sentence, but to announce “I am not happy about the sentence I just concluded.”
It’s true. I’ve noticed this in my own communication. I’ve also found myself including periods between sentences but not after the final sentence in a (very) short statement. Punctuation is important for understanding. When understanding is possible without punctuation, however, punctuation may be removed
But it also conveys a certain universality. When I say, for example, “The talks broke down because politics,” I’m not just describing a circumstance. I’m also describing a category. I’m making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I’m offering an explanation and rolling my eyes—and I’m able to do it with one little word. Because variety. Because Internet. Because language.