To be yourself, ignore everyone
Let’s play a mind game. Say you wish to start a company that 3D prints bandages that are absorbed by the skin. It’s an intriguing, future-ready idea with a large global market. Friends and family are willing to give you $200K to build a team, tinker with 3D printers and grow some biological cells to experiment. A year later, your money is burning but your product looks far from being customer-ready. Investors you meet aren’t willing to bet on an unproven idea that doesn’t yet have traction. Question: will you abandon the idea or will you find a way to push it further?
In that question lies the answer to your original intentions of starting up. Are you building a company that goes beyond the bottlenecks of growth or do you simply like the idea of being in a startup with glorified valuations?
A mistake people make is wanting to do it for the money - wishing for another Flipkart or Housing story. The only problem is that it’s a well-known fact that most startups don’t see light of day, leave alone getting someone to value them in the billions. If you are able to unearth a desire that goes beyond the money - a clear wish to build something unique, you need to develop the ability to ignore everyone. To put it differently, it’s impossible to create something that’s truly yours without tuning out the noise. This isn’t about businesses that build on what exists. This is about you - if you wish to create something that screams to be different, wanting a genuine shot at changing the world.
To build a business that sustains itself well into the future, it’s important for entrepreneurs to routinely learn to ignore everyone. Listen well but filter and dull the noise. The more you are able to do it, the cleaner your head stays and the better are your chances of being yourself. The more you are yourself, somehow people relate to you truly and are able to recognize your ideas. The more they relate to you greater is the likelihood of their willingness to work with you, invest in your venture, or buy your products.
Are you still wondering how the 3D bandage printer venture would continue breathing? There are many ways assuming that your technology works. You could seek a corporate partner such as a Johnson & Johnson that could use the technology for band-aids. You could create a board with industry leaders who understand your idea to increase the venture’s credibility. To make some money, you can offer consulting services in cell biology, chemistry and engineering - industry competencies that you would’ve acquired. You can simplify the product to the basic level that sells in the market now. You can partner with academic research labs and license your technology. You can…well, you get the idea. Figure it out.
An apple tree doesn’t worry much about why its fruit isn’t a yellow mango - it simply focuses on growing the juiciest apples it can. Go find your tree - fruits will follow.