At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.

At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job. 

At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer. 

At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.  

At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.

At age 28, Wayne Coyne ( from The Flaming Lips) was a fry cook.

At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter. 

At age 30, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker. 

At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.

Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39, and got her own cooking show at age 51.

Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.

Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 40.

Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career and landed his first movie role at age 42.

Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first major movie role until he was 46.

Morgan Freeman landed his first major movie role at age 52.

Kathryn Bigelow won the Academy Award for Best Director when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.

Grandma Moses didn’t begin her painting career until age 76.

Louise Bourgeois didn’t become a famous artist until she was 78.

Whatever your dream is, it is not too late to achieve it. You aren’t a failure because you haven’t found fame and fortune by the age of 21. Hell, it’s okay if you don’t even know what your dream is yet. Even if you’re flipping burgers, waiting tables or answering phones today, you never know where you’ll end up tomorrow.

Never tell yourself you’re too old to make it. 

Never tell yourself you missed your chance. 

Never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough. 

You can do it. Whatever it is. 

Successful People Start Before They Feel Ready

“If you’re working on something important, you’ll never feel ready. A side effect of doing challenging work is that you’re pulled by excitement and pushed by confusion at the same time.” – James Clear

The Start-Up Guy is well underway. I have been working with several businesses, including a very exciting Johannesburg-based business which is launching in the next two months. I am so honoured that they used and continue to use my services.  

I’ve noticed a common trait amongst all the guys and girls I’ve been working with recently, and I thought it might be useful to share because I think many other people are experiencing the same thing.

Almost all entrepreneurs don’t know what they’re doing and it’s perfectly okay. In fact, I don’t know of a single one who, at the outset, knew exactly what they needed to do and when to do it. Before your mind does that thing where it jumps to conclusions, let me explain.

A start-up is an experiment, a matter of trial and error. No one can be fully certain about the route it will take. At best, one can have a firm idea of the intended outcome, but whether that transpires is all dependent on the market’s response to your idea (and who really knows what that’ll be? Right?).

Sir Richard Branson has one of the most interesting entrepreneurial stories, for me, because he started many of his companies largely by mistake. He dropped out of school to continue a magazine business he had no idea was going to sustain him. As a way to grow his magazine sales, he started distributing music records made by unknown artists to his readers, and so began the journey of Virgin Records. He started Virgin Airlines after he was delayed by his flight facing maintenance issues before take-off. This guy is the epitome of just getting on with it. This guy is also worth $5 Billion today!

As an entrepreneur and business owner you have to embrace the learning process and continuously learn (by doing). Learn your market, learn your business, and continuously adapt your learnings to suit your market as you go. The entrepreneurs who embrace the learning process and respond to unexpected events in real time are often the ones who do very well.

Without babbling on for too long, the moral of the story is that not knowing what to do is not a good enough reason to not start your business. Passion and a basic idea is enough. Even if you are physically incapable of carrying out certain tasks, outsourcing skills is a thing (like helluurrr, this is why people like me are here). It is no mistake that one of the single most important traits that investors look for in entrepreneurs is passion, especially in the very early stages of a start-up. Not “intelligence.” Not qualifications. Passion (synonymous with commitment/dedication in this regard). A founder who is not passionate about what they are doing will give up when they face the inevitable hurdles of starting a business. Passion is the fuel by which a project goes from start-up to a fully-fledged business.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can go and start the next big business with the technical skills of a toddler. I am merely saying that, within reason, you can start a business without the technical know-how, as long as you have the dedication to follow through with the necessary steps. In doing so, be realistic, tread carefully and always consult a professional when you’re thinking about making an expensive decision.

If whilst reading this article you had a certain project or idea in mind, maybe it’s time to pursue it with everything you have. Why aren’t you? That was not a rhetorical question. Like Richard Branson famously said, “screw it. Just get on and do it.” If you are really struggling with how to conceptualise or begin your business, consult me and we can find a solution together. 

Once again, thank you for reading.

Tweet me @sazi08

“What will you do with the lazy ones, who would not work?’

No one is lazy. They grow hopeless from the misery of their present existence, and give up. Under our order of things, every men would do the work he liked, and would have as much as his neighbor, so could not be unhappy and discouraged.”
― Emma Goldman

Positive thinking is everything. When you believe you can do it, the how to do it develops. You are a product of your thoughts. You are a product of your environment. If you want greatness. Believe you deserve it. Act like you deserve it. Live like you are great- and you will attract greatness.