A year ago, i set out to start my own company, challenging myself publicly to introduce my ‘brainchild’ to the world and to execute my dream of bringing to reality a product or service that really fulfilled a need and solved a pain. I dreamt of making my contribution to society. 365 days have passed. And it’s time to see whether i succeeded or failed in my goal and what lessons i learnt. It’s time to answer the question – can someone equipped with an idea, passion and will (and without any money) make it on the internet??
So here’s the result — i couldn’t achieve the goal i set out to achieve. But i did accomplish other things i had not contemplated. I couldn’t start my own for-profit company, but i did start a non-profit movement with the name of iWeekend.
[iWeekend is an event that brings together internet professionals with diverse talents to select an idea, develop an internet application and launch a startup from scratch, all in a weekend!]
Right now, i am working as a business developer at Strands, perhaps the best technology company i could work for here in Spain. And certainly the best in what it does: understanding people’s tastes and preferences to provide them with recommendations of products and services they will like but haven’t discovered yet (Amazon and Netflix are two clear examples of companies that use this technology).
The result of my journey is not what I expected it to be, but i am satisfied nonetheless. Not bad for someone who wasn’t even in this industry 15 months back.
I shared the journey with you, blogging mostly in Spanish with a few posts in English. Here are the lessons i learnt from my experience in the past year:
1. First, break all the rules! — Pay attention to that feeling of something missing.
“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” — Epictetus
True motivation comes from being in touch with your inner self and your own reality, from where spring your deepest desires – what you want, not what others expect from you. Get out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to take the road less travelled. If you can take the risk, take it.
2. Know thyself — “Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.” — Hasidic Saying.
Anyone who has ever achieved anything in history has recognized, understood and followed one thing – their inner voice. As Mahatma Gandhi put it : “The only tyrant I accept in this world is the still voice within.”
Besides, to understand oneself is to understand other humans as well.
3. Know your stuff — Read, study, investigate. Become an expert in something. To be able to speak with the experts, you need to know well what you are talking about. Today, anyone can become an expert in something. Take advantage of the internet!
4. Connect — It is not what you know, it is not who you know, it is what you know about who you know. Meeting the right people could open up a world of opportunities. Reach out to the world. Guy Kawasaki has written a great post on the art of schmoozing.
5. Ride the wave — After you have decided to take the unique path, know what you want, know how to get it and have connected to the people who will help you, be alert and prepared for any opportunity that comes your way. Opportunity will knock the door. If you get tired of waiting for it, go out and actively seek it!
6. The money will run out — Even when you have made the most of your opportunities, you will come to a point when you just can’t carry on. Whatever you are doing needs to be sustainable. You either need to make money or be able to buy time to figure out how to make money (by having investors put money in your startup/project). When you run out of money, all your dreams go down the drain. Hard fact. No one said it was going to be easy to be an entrepreneur.
7. Live Right — “There is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right living.” — David Starr Jordan, opening lines of Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
What does living right mean? For me, it means having a good balance between personal and professional life. Being able to do in a week all the things you want to do.
I think everyone would agree that all entrepreneurs live an imbalanced life. They are consumed in their pursuit to realize their dream. And there’s a price to pay for that. I haven’t been living right lately, and it’s time to change all that. My journey has made me take a hard look at myself. I am more aware now of my shortcomings and limitations than I ever was. It’s time to sharpen the saw, achieve a certain equilibrium in life, and come back stronger. Success hasn’t ended (more successes to come), and failure isn’t final (just stepping stones to future successes).
These are my views.. we all see things from our own unique lens, and everyone is bound to come across different challenges in their pursuit to start from scratch and make it to the top (whatever it means to you.. to me, it means self-realization: achieving what my heart desires).
Meanwhile, the journey continues…