In this week’s issue of Teaching Startup, I answered an entrepreneur’s question about how to find more time.
See, when you’re an entrepreneur, time is your most valuable asset. You can raise money, you can hire talent, you can generate new ideas. Time, on the other hand, can’t be bought, copied, or outsourced.
This entrepreneur’s particular time problem was one I hear a lot. He already owns and runs a steady consulting business that’s paying the bills and even scratching his entrepreneurial itch a little. But he also has a dream idea for a product. And he can’t let that idea go.
The model for his new business isn’t super-unique, and it’s not borne out of a blazing hot idea that needs to be capitalized on before someone else makes a billion dollars off it. Rather, the new business is totally about him. It’s going to succeed or fail on his merits, his smarts, his passion — basically his desire to do this all day and every day for the rest of his life.
I imagine a lot of folks would tell him that he needed to drop the existing consulting business and spend every waking moment from here on out chasing his dream. And they have a point. It’s just not the right point.
Ideas are cheap, time is expensive
The thing that struck me about his particular situation is that he didn’t trip over some sort of idea gold mine. It’s not as if he was going to unleash his idea on the world and immediately reap untold rewards.
In fact, despite how startups are portrayed in Hollywood and, to a lesser and more implied extent, in the press, that’s not how new businesses work. If this entrepreneur closes up his consulting shop and throws all his effort behind this new business, there will be no musical montage of his journey that ends with him as the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation.
There will just be quiet. And fear. And a whole lot of time. Wasted.
To make a startup work, it takes a great idea, sure, but it also takes time to turn that idea into an executable reality. A lot of that time needs to be spent exclusively by the owner of the idea — the founder with the vision — to build that idea out. I can’t do that for him. You can’t do that for him. Only he can make this happen.
So why on earth would he immediately start a pressure-ticking clock counting down the minutes left to drag his idea over the finish line before the money runs out?
Competition? Well, yes. But also no. If someone can come along and do the same thing the same way, with the same vision and the same talent, they’re probably already doing it, maybe even with a big head start.
If an entrepreneur truly believes in their idea, they need to do whatever it takes so that the player stays in the game. You can’t buy time, you can only spend it wisely.
If you want the answer to the question about finding more time, and answers to dozens more questions asked by entrepreneurs, get a free trial of Teaching Startup.