I feel like everyone I speak to these days has at least a “project or two,” they are working on. By project I mean they have something they are at least thinking about that hopefully could someday become a real working business that they would own and operate. At the moment, I certainly consider myself part of this group, and sometimes it’s really sort of depressing. I know so many of these “projects,” will never even see the light of day, and of those that do even fewer will ever get far enough to be considered a business. This seemingly harsh reality begs the internal question “Why am I any different?”
I think that more and more people from my generation are at least thinking about heading down the entrepreneurial path. The so called millenials have grown up with access to unlimited information across an unlimited spectrum of niches. We’ve been empowered to go out and learn about anything and everything we’re interested in with ease. We’ve also had front row seats to rise of the “young entrepreneur.” We’ve heard so much about people out of high school and college creating companies that are phenomenal successes. We idolize these people yet we also can’t help but ask “why not me?” This question is precisely why we are so fascinated with them. I’ve asked myself that question for at least 10 years now, going way back to my high school days where I became obsessed with the business world via the stock market (dotcom days, ah what a time to start investing!). Why couldn’t I potentially take my part in the American dream? It’s cheaper than ever to start a business. All the information, contacts, and products you may need are seconds away in a Google search. From the outside perspective the only thing that stands between you and your dream life/job is a smart programming partner and a few months (NOTE: most of the people I talk to are trying to create some sort of web focused business, so they need someone with programming skills). And that is why I think there are so many of us out there with projects.
But if projects are so easy to start, why aren’t more projects becoming working, real life businesses? Because I think very few project starters have the capability to start a business. Most of us want to learn to swim by merely dipping our toes in the water. We think we can expose ourself to gain without risking any of the potential failure, but the truth is the lessons from failure are what create opportunity for success. If you don’t attempt to swim by getting in the pool, you’ll never feel the struggle that is growth, the struggle that is learning. And very few people are prepared for a struggle.
I find comfort in that. Don’t get me wrong, I love the explosion in entrepreneurial mindset in this city and this country. I love that at least in our heads more and more us believe we are capable of doing something big on our own. We all benefit from this because the tinkering of potential entrepreneurs and current entrepreneurs is what pushes growth and innovation throughout. This constant push to create is what created the great environment we are in today. But now I’m seeing what separates someone building a project and someone building a company, and I have to really respect and admire the courage in the creators. Great things happen to those of us who are willing to put ourselves out there. I mean to really put yourself out there for something you believe in. “Putting yourself out there,” obviously has different meanings for different people, and you know ultimately what that means for you, but this is the only place where your “project” becomes a potential business.
For me I believe this means to stop hiding in confusion (I’m not quite sure what to work on),pick a path, and declare it to the world. For me putting myself out there isn’t about money because I’ve never been afraid to put money on the line (thanks to my days dotcom investing and bootstrapping a business in college by the nifty credit card balance transfer trick). My “putting myself out there,” is more about exposing myself completely to the criticism of others. I get out there by speaking up with my ideas, sharing them with as many people as I can, reaching to any and all who may be able to help, and learning from the feedback. Only by challenging myself to expose ideas to others, with a firm voice behind it, can I learn to swim (that’s part of the reason I’ve been blogging more lately..it’s amazing how much more you can write when you write what you’re truly thinking / feeling) and move my project on to a company.
How do you put yourself out there?