I have been thinking long and hard about what the goal of launching a new business should be. And to be honest, I’m not sure if my conclusion is profound or just completely obvious.
I now believe the goal of a start-up is to get a business up and running.
In the end, it may not be exactly the business you had anticipated. It might be smaller – a lot smaller – than you expected. It may end up doing something slightly different from your original plan.
The key is that it’s a business – it is paying its own way. It is alive.
Why should that be the goal?
Because once you have a business up and running, you can then take it in a million different directions to mould, shape and grow it into whatever you want. But until you achieve that, you’re nowhere.
It’s like grand prix racing. Yes, it’s nice to start the race from pole position. But the key is to get onto the starting grid: 22nd is better than sitting in the garage. Even from the back of the grid you can start working your way into contention.
Take a look at Starbucks. I’m not an expert on its history, but I believe Howard Schultz took over a small coffee franchise and then set about expanding it into a global phenomenon.
The key thing is that he started with a business. It may have been small. It may have been conservative. It may have been unremarkable. But it served as the launching pad for greatness.
I think that increasingly nowadays we are all shooting for the stars. We all are looking to build something amazing in the fewest moves possible.
There’s nothing wrong with that, especially if you pull it off. But there is also nothing wrong with looking at things as stepping stones.
Take News Corp. It started off as a single newspaper in Adelaide. That was Rupert Murdoch’s first step. Over the decades, it grew and grew into the monolithic media company it is today.
His opening move was nowhere near as large as his ambition. But he needed to start somewhere, which he did with a bite-sized opening move in the city of churches.
The key point is that that bite-sized opening move gave him a stable platform for his next move and his next move and his countless subsequent moves.
Without that very small yet solid foundation, he would never have been able to exponentially grow his empire as he did.
So, what is my point? (Good question!)
Be ambitious. Aim to create something massive. But focus on building a business first. It may not be the sum total of your ambition but it will give you the platform you will need to grow.
What’s that saying, again? The journey of a thousand miles starts with…