There’s a personal finance blog that I enjoy reading called “Get Rich Slowly“. The name reminds me that like the goal of building a startup, the goal of building wealth is a difficult one that may take many years before it comes to fruition. A couple of unrelated blog posts I read today got me thinking about this subject and how startups can take practical steps to win in the long run:
1. Find something to believe in - Tony Wright of RescueTime wrote this fantastic post about how startups have to offer a lot of intangible benefits to retain great talent, but the greatest one that can be offered is a mission that inspires people.
But what if you’re not trying to change the world? I think that’s ok, as long as you’re doing something you care about or believe in. For example, my neighbors are opening a cookie shop. They’ve been baking incredible cookies for years and after a lot of hard work and perseverance, they’re finally fulfilling their dream of opening a shop. I’m sure they’ll be successful, because they’ve already demonstrated that they have the tenacity to keep their dream moving forward over the long-term.
There are a lot of great companies that are doing something very important in a non-world-changing-space, but Zappos is one of my favorites. Zappos started as an online shoe company, but they’ve grown into a thriving organization that believes that its mission in life is to “deliver happiness”. That’s an incredible brand, and one that can prompt people to sacrifice a lot to be part of it. I can’t wait to see what kinds of things Zappos does with such a powerful brand.
2. Remember that large successes begin with small steps – Nate at Inkling Markets writes about how great things are the result of patience and discipline. 37 Signals is another great success story here, as they spent a decade slowly building their brand, their beliefs, and their skills, all of which enabled them to blow up over the last few years. But without having plodded along day-in and day-out for all those years, they wouldn’t be what they are today. It’s always humorous when someone dismisses them as being successful just because they have a popular blog. Well, how do you think they got that blog? They didn’t inherit it; they built it over the course of years.
Another of my favorite stories in this area is Carbonmade. You can read more about their journey here, but essentially they spent years just taking small baby steps towards (and occasionally away from) their goal and now they have hundreds of thousands of active users. Of course, there are tons of other stories of startups like this who have quietly built something very impressive without giving up (we’d love to hear them, btw).
The bottom line is that entrepreneurship is very difficult at times, but it’s been enormously helpful for us to keep watching those who have come before us and learn from them, manage our expectations, and just keep walking.
Photo by Leo Reynolds