Friday, January 11, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary on entrepreneurship

Sir Edmund died last night, in his 88th year of a life filled with adventure. NPR did a story on his passing this morning that included a quote which just snapped my head back.

"I believe that if you set out for an adventure, and you're absolutely convinced you're going to be successful, why bother starting?"

Well, that's contrary. But I suppose the same could be said about being the first team to climb Mt. Everest, without knowing if you would live to talk about it.

I interpret Hillary to mean that any adventure worth starting needs to be worthy of you.

We're taught these days to visualize success. Like great athletes, we're told to picture our successes and they will surely happen.

I don't believe this is true for startups and emerging enterprises. Is enterprise formation the same as setting out on an adventure? Done right, you bet.

I believe you visualize outcomes, and look carefully for routes to get there.

Like mountain climbers in unknown situations, you sometimes need to change directions to stay alive.

That's why I keep circling back to what I call the "slow startup movement". It can be scary out there. Statistics come from someplace and outcomes aren't certain, no matter how hard you visualize them. Assume mistakes and danger are in your path and approach them with wisdom and care, not money and speed.

Instead, think about not being successful. How does that change your plan? Hopefully it focuses you on what works best and what actions REALLY get you closer to the outcome you've visualized.

Start early and start carefully. Get yourself launched and start exploring paths to your outcome.

If you want to start a new organization, and you have some doubts and fears about the adventure, good! You're human. Take those first steps slowly and wisely. If the outcome is worth it, there should be uncertainty in getting there.

You bother starting because of the adventure in the journey.

You're worth it. Your outcomes are worth it. Take a measured chance.

Good luck out there.

Photo above is from one of my favorite farms in beautiful Rock County, WI.

Rock County Development Alliance

No web site needed: One of my favorite restaurants and Thrive points is Ks Outback in Orfordville, Rock County, WI. I recently took two friends from China there. They made friends with everyone in the dining room before our breakfasts had arrived. Yep, that's a Thrive point.

No comments: