Sleeping house in Tamworth, New Hampshire. Built in 2008 by a father and son team from locally milled lumber.
Submitted by Charlie Myer.
The start of DecisionBucket.com. One piece of foam core, a couple markers…and two years or work :)
I use to watch shows about people’s stories who were successful. They all seemed to have some wild back-story that made them into the success that they were today. I went to a talk given by Richard Branson and he told a story to the effect of his mother forcing him out of the car when he was 8 years old and making him find his way home despite the fact they were 75 miles away. He said it made him “independent”.
My parents did not drop me on the side of the road in the countryside of London. But they were always improving everything around them and finding ways to get things done, even if it took…um…compromise?
What is the Orkis way of fixing a toaster you might ask. Why its, shoving a knife into it to hold down the lever of course! Thanks Dad for helping me to understand how to “fix” problems in the short-term, and Mom for showing me how to solve them in the long.
I think this encompasses 1/2 the entrepreneurs I know. Although somehow we always manage to relate the rock to a pie and convince someone to buy a cat in the process.
Smart and easy solution to an (i’m sure) annoying problem.
Customer: “Excuse me - do you have any regular coke?”
Employee (eye roll): “There is regular coke it there. It’s just a new can. The white one. Ya right there. The white one. The WHITE one.”
Time wasted: 10 seconds (x10/day, x7days/week)
Starting with nothing and turning it into something takes time. Lots of time. Your time, your business partners time, your teams time, and the time of people who will listen to you and give you feedback. It is hard to get these moments - to convince someone to give up an hour, or day, or week or year of their time to help you build a company.
I’ve read articles on how to build a team once you have the essential people locked, but where do you start if you’re starting from nowhere? Networking goes without saying, but here are a couple other tips that I’ve found to be helpful.
1,) Put the shamwow in their hands and give them a bucket of water.
If you’re trying to sell an orange piece of cloth by talking about how absorbent it is…good luck. You need to hand over the shamwow and allow whoever you’re trying to convince, to let them have a go. Show them that if they are to join the start-up, they will be totally hands-on and shape what happens. They will make an impact.
It’s always proven more powerful for me to start by letting a new team member influence the business rather than to hand them a defined role and ask that they fill it. If you don’t like how they influence the project when you enable them, you may not want to work with them anyway.
2.) Figure out who actually has the time to commit
When I moved to NYC three years ago, I hardly knew anyone. I’d make up ways to fill my time just to feel busy. Now its hard to find a free moment to myself. Different people have different reasons for being busy, or for having too much time on their hands.
If you find someone who you’d like to work with, chat with them about what they do with their time outside the office. It is difficult to deal with a constant stream of people that say the want to be a part of the start-up but have to bail a couple weeks in because they’re too busy.
If you find someone with extra time on their hands, talk with them about how fun and rewarding working on the start-up is. If they have the time, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a job for them to do.
3.) Have fun!
I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! Being the head of a start-up and being negative doesn’t work. You can’t be positive all the time (believe me I’ve learned), but when chatting with your team (or potential team), always try to have fun. People like to be a part of something that’s enjoyable. Sell that aspect of it. Ditch off and get beers early one night, laugh when you royal mess something up, play on YouTube a little too long, smile and say thanks.
4.) Take what you can get
I’ll admit it, this has been how my business partner and I have gotten to the point that we are at today. When you’re trying to build a company from scratch, you constantly have to have it in the back of your mind. When an opportunity arises to talk to someone smart about what you’re doing, jump at that opportunity. Even if it doesn’t seem overly appropriate or seems to be a bit off topic - if you really want to run a company rather than work for one, take any chance you can get.
Running a triathlon and starting a company have an odd amount of similarities. Saturday morning I woke up thinking about the start-up, but my mind quickly shifted to the fact that it was 6:30AM, it was raining and I was about to run a triathlon. Okay…it was a sprint, but none-the-less I was a mixture of nerves and excitement.
I was almost done with the swim, when I began to pay attention to my constantly wandering thought process. Over the next two hours (I’m not very fast), I was amazed to realize the synergies between running a triathlon and starting a company.
Thought process in the swim:
- “Wow, that’s far-away”
- “I wonder how far ahead or behind I am?”
- “Goodness, am I going to be able to finish this race?”
- “I’m fine, just keep swimming, just keep swimming”
- “Finding Nemo is sooooooooo good”
- “I’m almost done with the first leg, yes”
- “Did the beach just move further away?”
- “I have to write Katie about what times we’re working this week”
- “How are we going to get the start-up off the ground when we’re only working nights and weekends?”
- “It’s fine, we’ll just keep working, just keep working”
- “Finding Nemo is a GENIUS movie”
The synergies continued throughout the bike and the run. Every time I thought the finish line was a bit too far, I had to motivate myself to keep going. I had to keep reminding myself that if I could just get through this one leg of the race, that would allow me to get to the next, and next. I also realized that sometimes telling yourself to keep going doesn’t quite cut it.This is when you have to draw off the energy of the people around you. Almost every person I passed (all three of them), or was passed by, offered words of encouragement. “Keep it up”, “Good job”, “Almost there”. It’s the same every time I’m able to chat with an entrepreneur. You’re able to pull from their experiences, or excitement about what they’re doing, or their thoughts about what you are doing.
Finishing is possibly the most interesting part, because once you cross the finish line (whatever you consider that to be in start-up space), the accomplishment you feel makes it all feel worth it. Never mind about your shins hurting, or the fact that you had to pull countless late nights and weekend days melted away into endless hours of work. Once the company is up and running, or you’re cooling down and looking forward to a beer - the blood, sweat and tears don’t much matter.
What more, the scary (but exciting part) is that just a few hours after the race was over and we had beers in hand, conversation turned to what race we all wanted to do next. I fear (happily so) that that is to be the case when this start-up is up and running. If the synergies are as strong as I think they may be between building companies and running triathlons, I may have to turn this tumblr’s title to, “I’m a serial entrepreneur…I think?”
This is how my business partner and I started our company. It seems to work for us, although I’m pretty sure this may not be the typical route for most first time entrepreneurs.
It started with a friendship. Katie (my now business partner) and I worked together for a giant global media company for two years. We quickly learned that we were a good team. She is the ridiculously smart one with the ability to digest intense amounts of information in a few hours. Her brain amazes me everyday. I am the relationship builder, making sure we have the right assets to tap into when needed.
We are both task masters and work-a-holics.
This is where the odd part comes into play. After quickly realizing the power of our partnership, we chatted on a plane about what we could do if we simply (massive understatement in retrospect), worked for ourselves. We did not have a passion that we wanted to turn into a business. We did not have one great idea that we had to get into market. We had each other, and that seemed liked enough.
We decided to start at the end. What type of life did we want to lead? How many people did we want to work with? Where did we want to be based? How much money would make us happy?
This is where we netted out:
- Life: fun, challenged, freedom to shift course along the way, balanced, healthy
- Company Size: 10 – 40
- Location: work remotely (aka – have every aspect of the company be cloud based)
- Money: we would need 50K – 100K+ to pay our personal bills
We realized the company would need to be web based. We would either have to sell a product or a service to the public. Next we brainstormed ideas. What web-based company should we start?
The top five were:
- Life Stories: a multimedia platform for individuals or families to capture their stories (like if ancestry, facebook, and prezi had a love child).
- Viral Video Hub: a space for brands and user generated content to come together.
- Life Guide: a site to help individuals make complex life decisions like what health insurance to get, mortgage to take out, or mutual fund to invest in.
- A Social Media Agency: essentially buddy media ( this would have to require clients however).
- Date/Rate my X: a tell-all on your X-beau or X-belle