Sunday, November 09, 2008

A passion for problems

A good friend and mentor directed me to a wonderful book called Ripples From The Zambezi, by Ernesto Sirolli.

Mr Sirolli has been doing economic development work around the world and in the U.S. for more than 30 years. He is a 'bottom up' developer - nurturing small startups and then helping those entrepreneurs grow to the next level.

There are many great things to say about the book and the work. I want to focus on one aspect that I've always believed and taught to startup students and clients.

People often ask me what kind of business they should start. Often they're well along into researching business 'opportunities' being marketed to them.

I tell them that's the wrong question. The primary question is "What do you love?" Give me that answer, and I'll tell you what kind of business to start.

If you want to create your own small scale startup, focus on what you love. Build your enterprise around what you do beautifully or make with passion. The service or product will sell your enterprise in a way you couldn't duplicate with any other method, given small scale startup budgets.

Mr. Sirolli directs those that would help entrepreneurs first find the individuals who are passionate about their work and their ideas. Then he advocates getting the appropriate tools and structures in place to support that kind of enterprise.

He says this: "Success , we can therefore say, is to do beautifully whatever it is that you love doing…. And successful people come from every social stratum, race and sex. Some have been physically and psychologically abused; some couldn't see; some couldn't move and typed their books , letter by letter, with a stick held in their mouths. To be a genius in your own mind, however is meaningless; you have to dance it, build it, grow it, communicate it. Share it with the world."

The world gets made better by people solving problems. If you look around and can't see enough problems, I can't help.

Find a problem. Tell me why you know it passionately. Tell me what you love about your solutions, and I'll tell you what kind of startup you should organize. Your business will survive and grow only by continuing to solve problems with all the passion and skill that you can bring to your enterprise.

On top of that you get to live and work with what you love. It's a pretty great two-fer.

In closing, these kinds of small scale startups have never been more needed by the wider economy. The opportunities for small scale startups have never been greater. We are entering the renaissance age of entrepreneurship.

However, you need to remember that it will take longer than you think. The kinds of startups I'm writing about here are the most sustainable and most likely to succeed . But they take a while. I've called it the slow startup movement for a good reason. It's true.

What do you really love? Ready, Fire, Aim. Repeat. Good luck my friend.

Enersto Sirolli and the Sirolli Institute

Thanks to Sue at the Vernon County Economic Development office for the introduction to this good work.

1 comment:

ernesto sirolli said...


thanks for the comments and for your own "good work". May I suggest another book? It is titled PEAK and it is by Chip Conley. It is abour Maslow' influence in corporate is the perfect time to start talking abaut VALUES again. GREED IS NOT GOOD! Ernesto Sirolli