The last few weeks have been one of reflection as I worked through my many ideas, and reflected on the end of seven years being self employed. The guideline over this period was simple – do not end start 2014, the same way you ended 2013. The goal was deliberately vague but got more concrete as I went along. The articles below were helpful during this process, and I hope you will find something of value as you start the year, and hopefully start that idea that been lingering in your heart.
Sleep and the entrepreneur
Sleep, beautiful sleep. Nick Cox is a developer who makes a foundational point on the importance of sleep to anyone involved in a startup. This article resonated with me, because I have functioned on a few hours of sleep for a couple of months know. Read the article, and do not be guilty for having a good nights sleep. Click here.
Walala Wasala (You snooze you lose)
In the middle of a article on Foursquare, Om Malik, makes some telling points about starting up. The last four paragraphs tell the startup story as it is. The article provides the reality check that we all need. Starting up is not easy, and there is no one better to explain this than Om Malik. Read the article, by clicking here.
It includes a sentence, which is now my standard response to all those corporate dudes in banks that want to tell us about small business in South Africa, and who regularly turn down applications for funding from small businesses. The sentence reads as:
Peel away their sharkskin and you find they have never started a company, and they continue to live in the reflective glory of the company that once employed them.
The last comment is not just meant to be snarky, but a reality check that the debate on small business and entrepreneurship is led by people who have not started a business, and who advocate policy without reference to their own practices.
One of the problems entrepreneurs have is that the dream is unimplementable. The dream is so large, so full of texture and the founder is so demanding of herself that they are unable to take the first steps to realising that dream. I have this problem. One of the more important articles I have read on solving this problem is Craig Mods article on sub-compact publishing. The idea of building a rapid prototype or minimal viable product is captured in this article. Whilst it speaks specifically on online magazine publishing, the broader lessons on starting small and keeping things simple applies across any conceivable startup. Click here to read the article.
A useful supplement to the ideas provided by Craig Mod, is an approach to understanding your startup ideas that classifies them as “hobby, science experiment, suicide and do it”. As someone who has created weighting systems (with literally over 20 variables) to decide between ideas, the simplicity of this approach has been important. Click here to learn if your idea is a hobby, suicide, experiment or something your should do.
Roberto Unger on Small Business
Roberto Unger is one of the most important intellectuals of our time, in my honest opinion. This interview on BBC Hard Talk with Roberto Unger presents an important set of ideas on small business and economic democracy. The video appears on the SACSIS website, click here to see the video. The highlight for me is the idea that small business should be given access to advanced technologies as a way to make society more equal. This has been an idea that we have been testing on Zapreneur. The interview is a very useful reminder that as we start stuff it must link to this broader vision of economic democracy. This video was much needed inspiration for me as we implement an improved version of Zapreneur.