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This post is for anyone who has had an idea, but has failed to take action to make that idea into a reality. I hope you take this as a wake-up call to do something, rather than waiting for the right time. Here is the reality-there is no right time The time is now.
Several weeks ago, I was traveling to a friend's bachelor party, ready for a weekend of fun and relaxation. Yet, work was still on my mind. The following week I was scheduled to move from Detroit to Minneapolis for my current job. Having moved many times in the previous years, this was going to be my fifth move for work. I began thinking about how we make our career decisions. Why do we choose to do what we do? Is it a choice? Many more similar questions caused me to reflect on my own career path.
Throughout my career and in my current role as the National Director of Expansion and Training with Donor Development Strategies (DDS) I have acquired many entrepreneurial traits. For example, during my employment with DDS, I have re-written the company's fundraising script, remade their entire skill based training program, introduced a training program called Mindful Based Canvassing, and have worked with many of our canvass sites to help them operate more efficiently and productively as a whole. Above all, every time I visit a new PBS station, I have to sell, convince, and articulate my training vision to the new teams in order for them to grasp onto, buy into, and believe in the respective trainings. In short, on a daily basis I engage in activities that many start-ups also undertake.
So based upon this experience, I realized that if I had the ability to innovate, invent, and apply my ideas, and, also, build and sustain successful businesses teams, in a real business setting while working for others, then why couldn't I be able to accomplish something similar for myself and my own business venture in the future? The answer was of course I could!
I began imagining a future in which I was overseeing my own company--I was in control. I imagined what it would look like and feel like. Of course quitting my job and becoming a full blow entrepreneur on a whim was out of the question for many reasons that go beyond the scope of this blog entry. Furthermore, I have several more goals to accomplish in my current position before I am ready to walk away. Nevertheless, I needed to start somewhere if I was going to make my dream of owning my own business come true.
The question became what would my business look like? If only I had the right idea! Well, as with most things in life, the idea came out of no where. It was an app idea. Excited by my epiphany, I immediately called a good friend and asked him what he thought. He agreed that we were onto something.
Unfortunately, I knew nothing about app creation--nada, zip--let alone how to run an app business. Heck, I'm sure many of you have also had great app ideas, but were hog tied as to how to proceed. For many of you, the lack of knowledge and know how was a deal breaker, and the idea slipped into the ether of lost dreams. Despite my initial enthusiasm, I also could feel the doubt set in-- that slow but unstoppable force of reality that you come to terms with when you realize you are simply not up to the challenge. I tabled the idea and went on with my weekend, while enjoying my first bachelor party.
Upon my return home, however, the idea still lingered in my mind. I jumped onto the computer and typed into Google How to make an app. And so my research began. I quickly learned that you DO NOT NEED to know how to code in order to create an app. In fact, there are thousands upon thousands of free-lance developers all over the web who are yearning to have the chance to build your idea. The best site for free-lance developers is Odesk.com. You can literally create a job post in a matter of minutes for free. Then developers will be able to search, find, and apply to your posting. In fact, the real difficulty in app creation is not in the app creation itself, but rather in the funding and marketing of the app once it is built. A future post will cover marketing and funding your app project. I will also cover the pitfalls and concerns you should have about hiring a new app developer and what to expect and plan for in the process in a future post.
After creating my first post ever on Odesk.com, I received forty-one applications. Through the interview process, while gathering a list of different quotes, I realized that the cost to bring my idea to life could range from eight thousand to fourteen thousand dollars. Once again, I was a at a fork in the road. Fourteen thousand dollars was equivalent to my entire savings from the previous years work, and I was doubtful as to whether such an investment would be prudent. So, once again, I tabled the idea.
Days later, while perusing the web, I came upon a video named Trader-Made $41 Million Profit in 3 Years Option Trading. The star of the video was a women named Karen who, as the title alludes to, makes a significant amount of money in a short period of time. Sure it was cool that Karen had succeeded, but the real point of inspiration that I gained from the video was how Karen began her journey and, specifically, the process of learning that she underwent to ultimately succeed as she did.
The shining moment in the Youtube video is when Karen explains that a friend approached her to join a stock-trading class. The cost of the class was twenty-one thousand dollars. At first, Karen thought that such an investment was insane and that she was throwing away her hard earned cash. She reports that her life savings amounted to roughly one hundred thousand dollars. Clearly, twenty percent of a person's lifetime savings is nothing to scoff at. Furthermore, for many of us, we are taught throughout our lives to go to school in order to get a job so that you can rise up the corporate latter, while saving money along the way, with the hopes of gaining financial freedom at the end of the rainbow. This paradigm of thinking thus inhibits many people from taking chances like Karen's friend asked Karen to do. Yet, through deliberation and coaxing from her friend, Karen ultimatum joined the class, spent the money, and went on to make millions.
Now, am I saying that you should join an expensive business class in the hopes of making millions? No! The take away here is that Karen spent the money, which forced her to dedicate herself to the trade in a way that she never would have if she did not make such an investment. Karen took a leap of faith. In fact, Karen clearly articulates that if she did not spend the twenty one thousand, then she would not have underwent the intense journey of self-teaching that made her so successful. The investment itself held her accountable to completing her journey into stock trading. For, if she failed, it would come at a costly financial blow. Thus, the investment was not only in the class, but in her commitment to the ideal of learning something new. Ultimately, the teachings of the class inspired Karen to take on more knowledge and to commit more time and energy to perfecting her craft. In effect, she broke away from the paradigm of working for others and ventured into the foreign land of self-employment.
So, I realized that I also needed to be willing to put some stake in the game if I was going to really invest my time and energy into my idea. In other words, like Karen, I needed to take a leap of faith to begin something new. I needed to cast aside my fear of failing or losing something and wander into the unknown world of app development with the hope that I would find my way. A great quote from the movie Three Kings comes to mind. George Clooney, as Archie Gates, explains -The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.- Likewise, I too needed to make the leap of faith and do what I was scared of doing. So, I hired my first developer. What happened next was amazing. [end of part 1]
Check out the next part of the story soon: Have an App Idea? Start a business: How I did it under a month (PART 2)
This post was edited by reedaaronben at July 27, 2014 8:49 PM EDT