Friday, December 14, 2007

Mistakes, thankfully

I taught a class this week and did a fun talk about how to do startups and how to keep them organized.

I asked for feedback and found the responses this week connect nicely to the feedback comments made following the online Micro Enterprise courses.

Many people seem to like hearing about the mistakes I've made.

Those are easy classes to fill with content.

The gist of the this part of the presentations is that it requires a lot of mistakes to find a unique path. I call this sailing into blue water.

To me that means sailing toward the unknown. Run to what scares you. Not competing with anyone, but just trying to solve more problems. Mistakes will seem like the least of your worries.

I was recently talking with my friend Roy, who is retired from Harley-Davidson, about the inventions my partner Dave and I built and installed at their plants in Milwaukee. I was talking about how simple it all was, basically learning from mistakes.

Roy's response was perfect. It sums up my approach to getting things done by well informed trial and error.

He said, "Sure, Rick, any idiot could have done that. But you're that idiot!"

Independent entrepreneurship REQUIRES mistakes to find new ground. To be safer to innovate. To be farther from competitors, and unproductive, daily dogfights.

The more mistakes you make - and learn from - the farther you are into blue water.

Get your new enterprise started. Take some steps along the learning curve - they're going to happen no matter what, so just start learning.

I suggest this is a good resting place for this discussion. Here is a great quote from the Wizard to take us out...

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" - Thomas Edison, inventor and scientist

Harley-Davidson I owe an unmeasurable debt of gratitude to Harley-Davidson. Long before any of the green movement was glamorous, the wonderful folks at Harley-Davidson gave me the time and the space to get it right (a euphemism for making mistakes). As a result, Harley-Davidson prevents millions of gallons of wastewater every year and has eliminated a previous air pollution source. In fact, the photo above is from the presentation of the Governor's New Product Award. That's Dale Swenson, P.E., from The Harley-Davidson Motor Company, presenting our 2004 Small Business New Product of the Year Award. That year we were lucky enough to also be chosen First Place and Best of State. To my independent entrepreneur friends, please note that our little enterprise accomplished this with only 4 people. Thank you to all my friends back at Harley-Davidson!

Terrific Travel Ideas My friend Roy retired from Harley-Davidson. He and his wife started a really cool small business focused on useful ideas and products for travelers. Roy and I met through one of my courses. I love what they're doing. Buy something and say 'Hi' for me.

Wikipedia Thomas Alva Edison

Today is my Dad's 87th birthday! Happy Birthday Dad!!!!!!

I asked him today what he was up to and he told me he had a good new idea. Those of you who don't know my Dad may be dubious. Those of you who know Dad will recognize that he wasn't mentioning the other 10 new, good ideas.

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