“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
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
My small wish: Benedict and Martin filming a cop movie. I want Benedict as a new, enthusiastic stubborn cop and Martin as a bad dirty cop. They hate each other at first but soon realize they’re actually good partners.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
“I am a fan of the Coen brothers. I’m not a fanatic. I’m a big admirer. They create unique worlds, and there is a real atmosphere to their films. Not everyone can get that. That’s a massive part of their appeal: you can recognise them. Like all the great directors or artists, you know it when you see it.“
I believe motivation is highly subjective and that each person
has a unique motivational catalyst. So this post isn’t actually written to motivate you (LOL). What this post will do, however, is give
you 3 distinct suggestions on how you can generally stay motivated by yourself. These are based on
observations made in my brief time working with entrepreneurs. Of course, like
with anything, this is not a closed list.
1. Have Passion For What You Do:
You’ve heard this plenty of
times, I know, it’s annoying to me too. But we wouldn’t hear it so often if it wasn’t so
Steve Jobs, when addressing a
crowd at his alma mater, famously said “You’ve got to find what you love.
And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers.”
Do what you love, and not in an airy fairy,
kumbaya kind of way. If you derive actual pleasure from what you do, you are
likely to be more motivated than the average person. It follows that people who
do what they love will approach their work with a guaranteed level of
enthusiasm. I don’t think this needs a great deal of explanation.
2. Find A Suitable Co-Founder:
Some of the best companies in the
world were started by co-founders (e.g. Apple, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble,
etc.). Often, a start-up is launched and maintained through a combination of
expertise, which, for complex projects, is hardly ever held by a single person.
Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 people to start a project. So the importance of
compatible co-founders cannot be stressed enough.
Like with every endeavour, there
will be challenges that dampen the passion. The honeymoon period WILL end, and
co-founders need to understand their effect on each other because this can
serve as the necessary spark to push each other forward. During a slump in
motivation, if you don’t feel more motivated after speaking with your co-founder,
he or she may not be the right person for you to work with.
Some questions you should ask
about your co-founder - When you are not feeling your best will they be able to
take control? Do they create a mood which is conducive
to productivity? How do you feel after talking to them about a hurdle you are
facing? Do they actually have the capacity to perform the tasks that are needed
to drive the project forward?
To achieve the best results, be
brutally honest with yourself when answering these questions. Based on your
answers, you may need to make some changes.
I left the first business I
started at University because I could no longer work with my co-founder. The
person whom I had originally chosen as my co-founder because of his technical
knowledge of the (media) industry became the reason for my loss of enthusiasm.
I am not sure what the root cause was, but my co-founder started developing a
habit of killing the business relationships I had worked hard to build (and other bad habits, which are best left unmentioned). In turn, our reputation as a
serious business began to take a knock. But this wasn’t yet the issue. The real
issue was his inability to realise his problem, and then act in accordance with
Needless to say, I was brutally honest with
myself - I just did not believe that he had the capacity to perform necessary tasks anymore, so I cut all professional ties with him.
3. Figure Out Your Motivational
I define motivational currency as: a
positive response which fuels the desire to be productive.
For example, I run a consulting business.
Now, as much as I love what I do, there are mornings which feel completely
hopeless (because - life) and my reason for continuing has escaped me. However, my mood suddenly
changes when I get up from my bed, check my mail, and find an email from an
entrepreneur requesting my services. After viewing this email, I feel a new
energy, a sense of purpose, which prompts me to keep going. I am motivated, and
the email is my motivational currency.
If you are an outdoor event organiser
whose event receives good reviews on social media and in the local papers, such
reviews are your motivational currency because they prompt you to repeat the
amount of effort put into your work, in pursuit of the same or an even better
response from your market.
This type of “currency” is different for
different businesses, and is usually controlled by external factors. We cannot
determine when motivational currency will be forthcoming, but the more work we
put in, the more motivational currency we are likely to receive. (i.e. the more good
work I do for my existing clients, the more likely I am to wake up to an email
requesting my services.)
Staying motivated is, in my
opinion, the most important thing for any entrepreneur. You can do anything you
set your mind to with the right amount of motivation. Conversely, you can do
very little without it. This is why it is crucial for entrepreneurs to find what motivates them, and have ready access to it whenever it’s needed.
print this. Put it on your wall, and highlight the points which speak to you
the most. Every time you feel demotivated, give it a quick read, and remind
yourself of the ways in which you can regain your motivation.
As always, thanks for reading. I promise to make it a shorter read next time.
I lay here contemplating life. Debating between pushing myself to complete my business plan and throwing it all away to succumb to the mundane lifestyle of 9-5. Wondering if my ideas with ever come to fruition. But then I think of all the support I have. It doesn’t seem so large a task after all. To everyone who supports me, thank you.