Yet, it did not fully resonate with me. Having started a few businessmen myself – or more accurately, launching new products and brands, my experience was more like being stuck on a desert island. You start to have a vision of a ship, but you can only build with what driftwood the sea spits out. It does not take forever; it feels like it, but before long you have some sort of vessel that can float and you set sail. From this point the airplane analogy makes some sense. Except in the seas you can now ad to your raft whith what you find floating around. While at the same time learn how to sail and chart a course.
There is this saying in Silicon Valley: Fail Fast. Fail Cheap. It has not been very popular lately. But you can more or less spot the method in the madness.
To bring the idiom of the plain and raft together: Adapt fast/learn slow. Gaining skills, building contacts and learning how to navigate the business landscape will feel like a sprint (airplane), but it is actually a marathon (raft).
Oh, did I mention the cannibals? There are cannibals on the island. Watch out for them. But that is a blog for another day.
Have you ever had an idea stolen? Explain to me how it works. A friend and colleague has a few horror stories of ideas that got hijacked. But on closer inspection I found that idea theft is …. not even a thing.
From abstraction to the concrete.
Some history here. During the Stone Age you could hunt and kill an animal. The animal did not belong to anyone until it was “hunted”. The labor that you exerted to hunt the animal is what “paid for it”. During the Bronze Age thing got simpler and things got more complicated. You would obtain a piece of land and your work on said land would yield crops, livestock or goods like timber. Again, your labor is what translates the land into value – crops etc.. Simple. The complexity, however, in Bronze Age economics comes in the practice of conquer. Instead of “spending” your labor to become productive, you could apply your efforts in becoming strong and simply take what you want by force. During the latter part of the Bronze Age labor was split into productivity and defense-/offensiveness. This was more or less the birth of civilization as different roles was co-opted. For instance farmer, soldier, craftsmen etc..
For the sake of relevance, I’m going to fast-forward over a few of the historic periods. During the Renaissance Period intellectual property came to matter more and more. There was little land left to conquer and an equilibrium was reached in most civilized places through rule of law. People started to exert their labor in the endeavor of learning.
At this stage of the post I don’t want to bore myself or my readers with the history of patents and other intellectual property. The point should be clear, though, that for “things” to become valuable, labor has to be exerted over it.
Execution vs. Idea
It’s not about the idea, but the execution thereof. Said in another way: the marrying of your labor with a spark of insight. How do you determine the value of your idea? One can at least argue, that the degree of difficulty and the time taken to bring an idea to fruition is a good starting point for assessing its value – market forces notwithstanding, of course. In my life I’ve seen bad ideas perfectly executed. Take the Fidget Spinner as an example. Search your memory for any childhood fad. I’ve also seen brilliant ideas poorly executed. Yet, a good idea always finds a way. Like a good man, a good idea cannot be kept down! It always makes a comeback. In Silicon Valley it is called: The Pivot. The pivot refers to the cannibalization of intellectual property and retooling it for a better purpose. This article has great pivot examples .
Do the work.
Before claiming that someone stole your idea, do the work. Exert some labor. Here is how:
Plan for all eventualities. Burn some cash on R & D.
Execute. The only thing worse than no planning is too much planning. Plan for how much you want to plan, but get to the point of execution ASAP. Only when testing your idea in the open market will you know if the idea is good or even if the time is good. The industry jargon for this is: Proof of Concept or POC. Apply just as much care and attention to the “outside of the box than the inside”. That is to say, get your marketing, branding and advertising on the standard that your product (or service) deserve. And make sure it is protected by trademark- and patent- law.
Agility. Be agile in your vision and mode of operation. Be pivot-ready at all times. Many businesses does not make their money the way you think they do. For instance, the rumors are that Amazon breaks even in the retail section but the AWS (Amazon Web Services) is the true cash cow. Once you learn this fact, you start to see it everywhere. The Greatest tech company in the world, Google, is in actual fact a media company that sells ad space, duh. Yes, they needed to have the best tech to be the best in media/advertising. The lesson here is be open to other income streams – don’t be allergic to money!
There is a saying in Silicon Valley that goes: Fail fast and fail cheap. That saying does not sit right with many people. I too hate planning for failure. Opposing to Fail-Fast is another pitfall: the sunk cost fallacy. There is an art to letting go and to knowing when to let go. But do not start with failure in mind! Just do the work diligently and keep an open mind. Be patient and keep your eyes wide open. That is the surest way of maximizing your odds for success.
I saw this on my Social Medias and simply had to steal it. It is too good not to share. But, as an addendum, I want to add that people working in abstract fields or with intangible concepts, it’s even harder to communicate your worth to clients. And Imposter Syndrome is real! Creatives especially often undercharge. It’s important to love your job. But sometimes you must like getting paid just a little more.
A customer asked a contractor friend of mine how much it would cost to do this project.
My friend gave him a proposal: R30 000
The customer responded: That’s seems really high.
My friend asked: What do you think is a reasonable price for this job?
The customer answered: R20 000 maximum
My friend responded: Ok, then I invite you to do it yourself.
The customer answered: I don’t know how to.
My friend responded: Alright, then how about for R15 000 I’ll teach you how to. So besides saving you R15 000, you’ll learn valuable skills that will benefit you in the future.
The customer answered: Sounds good! Let’s do it!
My friend responded: Great! To get started, you are going to need some tools. You will need a chop saw, table saw, cordless drill, bit set, router, skill saw, jig saw, tool belt, hammer, etc..
The customer answered: But I don’t have any of those tools and I can’t justify buying all of these for one job.
My friend responded: Ok. Well then for an additional R3000 I can rent my tools to you to use for this project.
The customer answered: Okay. That’s fair.
My friend responded: Great! We will start the project on Monday.
The customer answered: I work Monday through Friday. I’m only available on the weekends.
My friend responded: If you want to learn from me then you will need to work when I work. This project will take 3 days so you will need to take 3 days off work.
The customer answered: That means I’m going to have to sacrifice my pay for 3 days or use my vacation time!
My friend responded: That’s true. Remember, when you do a job yourself you need to account for unproductive factors.
The customer answered: What do you mean by that?
My friend responded: Doing a job completely from start to finish includes time spent to plan the project, pick up materials, travel time, gas, set up time, clean up, and waste disposal amongst other things. That’s all in addition to the actual project itself. And speaking of materials, that’s where we will start on Monday so I need you to meet me at the lumberyard at 6:00am.
The customer answered: At 6am?!! My work day doesn’t usually start until 8am!
My friend responded: Well then you’re in luck! My plan is to start on the deck build by 8am. But to do so we have to start at 6am to get materials picked up, loaded and delivered to your job site.
The customer answered: You know, I’m realizing that a lot more goes in to a job than what a customer sees in the finished project. Your proposal of R30 000 is very reasonable. I would like you to handle the project.
When you pay for a job, especially a custom job, (whether it’s a physical project or digital project) you pay not only for the material and the work to be completed. You also pay for:
Time to plan
Time to prepare
If you request a proposal for custom work to be done, please don’t disrespect a service provider by trying to get them to lower their prices.
If their proposal exceeds your budget, there’s nothing wrong with getting other proposals.
Just remember.. you get what you pay for.
SERVICE PROVIDERS Know your worth and be confident in it.
CONSUMERS Recognize their worth and be respectful of it.
Credit to the author – whoever he or she might be. Well said.