Friday, March 02, 2007

Post 100. The value of looking back

I always wanted to write.

When I stuck my toe in the water during college, I didn't get rejection slips, I got hate mail.

I was trying to write about life threads that were very personal to me. I clearly sent them to the wrong addresses.

Writing into the web is better. Now it’s easier to delete the spam.

I still get to write about aspects of my life that have important personal meaning to me.

I’ve met many wonderful new friends through these posts, and I feel like I’ve gotten the first few percent off my chest.

Thanks to everyone for writing back.

I don’t want my 100th piece to be about how wonderful it is to be an entrepreneur. The culture is giving you that from a thousand directions at the moment. I want my 100th post to say something important, at least to me, about our responsibilities as citizens of the most entrepreneurial society in history.

In significant new ways, large and small, you have the ability to organize custom sets of skills and information needed to alleviate real human problems in ways that have never before been possible in human history.

This doesn’t mean you need to cure cancer. It means you can make some unique subset of the world a better place. You can organize that effort in ways that are profitable and deliver increased levels of personal self control.

No, it’s not easy. No, you’ll not likely get rich. That’s the good news.

Yes, there is opportunity everywhere. Yes, you’re capable of starting your own enterprise. That’s the tough news.

It means that when you look closely, it’s only hard work, common sense, and realistic expectations that stand between you and a more sustainable life.

Working smart and working hard to provide sustainable solutions has been the business of most people in most societies since the dawn of time. By and large, it’s worked out.

Despite the trappings, now is no different. Except we have better and cheaper tools than have ever been available in human history.

High tech headlines tantalize would be entrepreneurs, but I think they also deter most of us. That’s unfortunate.

The simple human skills of basic, sustainable entrepreneurship get thrown out for the false realities of spreadsheets and get rich seminars.

If ever there was a time to reclaim and celebrate small scale, sustainable entrepreneurship, and all it’s common sense tools, now is that time.

In the world of enterprise, looking backward is rarely touted. But looking backward is valuable, given the problems we face today. Many of the skills that got us here are waiting to be re-found. Honesty, virtue, hard work, living lean, and optimistic courage are there to name a few.

Looking backward brings us to quieter places for ourselves, where we can grow as individuals, enjoy commerce and contribute to society. Sure you can use the wonderful new 21st century tools, just learn to use them in ways that support you and the rest of us sustainably. It’s easier than you think.

Don’t be ashamed that your new enterprise isn’t wired into the newest tech trend, or the shining star of the IPO world. Those represent only one kind of commerce.

Sustainable work for me means building smart, repeatable business models around common sense solutions, executed with simplicity and when possible, elegance.

Work hard, stay vigilant, and take small bites.