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A question I’ve never been asked

Dear Reader,

I spent around 4 hours with Dave Delaney yesterday. Specifically from somewhere south of Chattanooga to somewhere past Lake City, FL. Dave is the host of JumpStart Foundry Podcast and since I had a very long drive, I listened to a lot of the back catalog. Dave has interviewed everyone from Marcus Whitney to Seth Godin, and everyone in between.

A couple of seasons ago, Dave’s format included ending the show with the question “What 3 tips do you have for new entrepreneurs.” Somewhere around the 6th or 7th episode of hearing guests answer this question, I began formulating my own answer; I’m telling you, it was a LONG trip. :)

Now, I’ve never been a guest on JumpStart Foundry Podcast, which is fine, I don’t have that much to say to entrepreneurs anyhow. That having been said, I do see more and more developers getting bit by the entrepreneurial bug. So I decided to share my 3 tips for entrepreneurs, even thought it’s a question I’ve never been asked.

1: Thanks for asking, yes, your idea is shit.
Ideas area dime a dozen; good ideas are a dollar a dozen. Your idea may be good, it may be bad but it’s just a idea. Take for example the iPhone. Apple didn’t invent the idea of the smart phone. When they had the idea to create a new phone, they weren’t breaking new ground. It was their execution of the idea that changed everything.

Don’t get so hung up on your idea that you lose track of what’s important, the execution.

2: Friends and family suck as an idea filter
Stop asking your friends and family if you’ve got a winner of an idea. Half of them don’t understand you, what you do, or your idea and will tell you it’s an awesome idea just to feel like they are supporting you. The other half are jealous and don’t want you to succeed because if you do, they look bad because they won’t try. So they beat you don’t and tell you all the reasons your idea won’t work. Ignore both groups!

Find you a group of peers who will give you the truth. I am lucky enough to have friends like Luke Stokes, Keith Casey, and Jacques Woodcock who I trust to give me an honest assessment of an idea. Yes, they are all my friends but I know from experience that they want me to succeed. They help me assess an idea, but more importantly, they help me plan my execution. They rarely just say “Good idea” or “Bad idea”; they recognize the importance of point #1.

3: Failure is ok, but no reason to celebrate
Of late the entrepreneurial cast has adopted the motto, “Fail Fast”. They have adopted it so thoroughly that it is almost a moment of celebration when a startup fails; this is bullshit. Yes, failures happen. Adam Savage has a great talk about failure. A failure is however, still a failure. Don’t hold your head up high, you failed! More important than celebrating failure is learning from failure. I’ve had my share of failures. I don’t linger on them, I certainly don’t celebrate them, I learn from them and I try not to make the same mistake executing my next idea.

There you have it; my advice to developer entrepreneurs. What’s yours?

Until next time,
I <3 |<

8 thoughts on “A question I’ve never been asked

  1. I love the advice, but must respectfully disagree with the point about failure. I think it’s a good thing to celebrate any outcome, as life is really just a grand experiment. We put all kinds of expectations on how we think things should be, but the reality is we don’t know what will happen until we execute an idea. The word “failure” carries a lot of negative connotation with it, and just because the results are not what you expected or intended does not mean it is a bad thing (or a good thing, necessarily). It’s just a thing. :) We place expectations on outcomes that we usually don’t have total control over, then beat ourselves up when things don’t go the way we think they should. It’s like a scientist experimenting by mixing chemicals together. The outcome is what it is, and regardless of the outcome, there now exists more information to go into the science books. The only real “failure” is not experimenting at all, imho.

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