These are the latest set of Commandments / Laws / Lessons / Hunches that you might want to consider based on my experiences and opinion that changes as I learn more during my journey.
1. Thou shall commit an hour a day to this journey.
The first commitment you need to make for your journey to running your own successful business is time. Now you don’t need to change your life entirely from today you just need to find 1 hour a day. This hour can be broken up into smaller chunks if you need, the key thing is to commit to spending 1 hour a day – no more, no less. The key is to do it on a consistent basis. We are Tim Robbins in the Shawshank Redemption tunneling out of the prison with a 2-inch rock hammer – a lot can be achieved in small increments of time if you stick at it.
I find that spending a solid 30 mins in the morning is something I can squeeze in fairly easily and then I come back to it for 2 more 15-minute sections later in the day. I try not to do anything in the evening when the family is home and I want to spend time with them. Figure out what works for you and just start doing it – you will be surprised how much can be achieved in such a small amount of time each day.
2. Thou shall focus on and enjoy learning new skills.
Do you think that Mark Zuckerberg came up with Facebook in a dream one night? No, he discovered the first version of Facebook as he developed his coding skills building that “facemash” thing when he was at Harvard studying Computer Science. As Mark Zuckerberg has said many times, there are over 10,000 versions of Facebook running at any one time, so even today the company is focused on developing their skills at engaging with their customers. An idea is a one-time static thing that will become obsolete very quickly. Skills develop over time and a far more robust.
I really think that this is one of the dirty secrets, to be a successful Entrepreneur, you need to realize that the constant quest for learning and building on your skills base is key and you better understand that now. If you don’t like learning new things – stick to your day job.
As you develop your business ideas, make sure you spend a decent amount of that time mapping out the skills you would need to learn in order to not only execute your business plan but also continue to evolve that business over time. Afterall, when you are successful you will be dealing with competition and imitators – you’ll need those ninja skills to stay ahead.
One other benefit of focussing on skills is developing your ability to quickly prototype and test your business ideas with very little financial investment. It can cost thousands of dollars to build even a pretty simple website or app so being able to build the V1 prototypes your self within your hour a day time commitment will allow you to develop your ideas quickly and without major expense.
3. Thou shall not buy into their own genius
If you are spending an hour a day on starting a new business, one of your scarcest resources is time. You can’t afford to go too far down one path only to discover that it’s a dead end or does not lead where you want.
Just think of how many times you or your friends have come up with an exciting idea for a business but even with a little bit of research, you discover there are 50 companies already doing that exact same thing. This is one example of buying into your own genius. Your genius only extends as far the things that you know, not everything. It’s very tempting to think that something is unique simply because you have not seen it before, it does not mean it doesn’t exist and it probably does.
Another example is when you make decisions with too much bias towards your own opinion that does not represent the general opinion of a wider population that might be interested in your business idea. I had an idea once that it would be great to have a service where you store your entire wardrobe with a company that delivers an outfit to you each day all pressed clean and suitable for the day ahead based on the preferences you set up in an app. I would love to have this service but some simple questioning of friends made me realize that I was in a very small minority that would want this service. I fell into the trap in believing my own genius because I assumed because I liked the idea, a large number of people would.
Developing your idea needs to be a series of experiments on a roadmap to validate your thoughts every step of the way. These tests could start with something simple like asking 5 friends whether they would use a service like that or post a question on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter. As you continue to validate and evolve your idea you should set higher bars of success to achieve.
Designing these tests need to be core to every business plan to make sure you don’t waste too many hours/days going down the wrong path.
4. Thou shall achieve at least the worst case scenario
When planning what you are going to spend your time on, don’t focus on the end goal of being a billionaire entrepreneur thinking about your run for president. Think about what the worst case scenario is and make sure you achieve at least that. What do I mean?
Well, I want to start my own business and all that good stuff but at the start of my journey, I could not even build a website. So if I spend hours on this project and the worst case scenario happens – no one ever comes to my site or reads any of these words. The worst case scenario here is that I would have learned how to create a basic website (check!) and maybe get a bit better at writing. These are skills I can take to my next venture.
By achieving the worst case scenario, any venture you do is guaranteed to be a success as you will take away something valuable from it. It might not be a billion dollars this time around but it will be some valuable skills you will take with you.
5. Thou shall know enough to be dangerous
I think it is a quote that might be attributed to Elon Musk but it’s a clue into how he is able to have such a broad grasp of engineering concepts that help him to incredible things at SpaceX then at Tesla in the same week as well as kick of a hobby such as the boring company. This quote is “boil it down to the physics” (or something like that). For Elon this meant getting engineering degrees and reading some mind blowing number of engineering books but I think the principle is the thing that counts here. I’m sure Elon Musk does not understand everything there is to know about the inner workings of electrical propulsion or the complicated systems required to land a rocket on a rocking ship in the ocean but he sure does know enough about those things to be dangerous.
What do I mean when I say “dangerous”? Well the way I see it is that there is a level of understanding that you can acquire on a certain topic that allows you to have a good grasp of the major concepts from the ground up. This allows you to strike a perfect balance between being ignorant and open to massive risk in your decision making or not being nimble enough to be able to move fast and be efficient with your time.