A college degree has long seen as an essential stepping stone to success. When Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard, he was seen as doing irreparable damage for his chances of success.
Together with his college roommates, Zuckerberg took his dorm room “idea” to a worldwide phenomenon that has over 1.4 billion registered daily users. Considered to be amongst the top 50 most influential people on earth, Zuckerberg has reportedly amassed a personal net worth of US$ 33 billion as of July 2014.
Success stories like Mark Zuckerberg, has paved the way for another school of thought, which seems to questions the previously held belief of the value of a college education. Nationally acclaimed visionary entrepreneur Peter Thiel is one proponent of this new trend. Theil Fellowship encourages students under the age of 20 to drop out of school to pursue “ideas”. It offers those students who qualify a total of $100,000 over two years, with guidance and resources.
This article looks at how anyone (with or without a college education) lay the ground work for an “idea” for entry in to the world of start up, and go through the stepping stones of success to building a profitable company.
The pathway to the startup world begins with an “idea”. BUT… the concept of that “idea” blossoming in to success depends how well you strategize and execute to bring desired results. Let us term this an “Organized Actionable Strategy” (OAS). An OAS will lay out the ground work to achieve objectives, goals, milestones and a mechanism to measure the success of a startup.
What is an Organized Actionable Strategy (OAS)?
An OAS is a set of organized strategies to be put in action, that are thought out well in advance before launching a startup, to accomplish desired results. These results will then be measured to see the success of the progress.
“Any objective becomes clearer, and attainable when it is organized, strategized, by those who plan it. Any strategy (on paper) is irrelevant unless it is put in to action”
To simplify things let us assume something that everyone is aware of and something that we all are familiar with – trying to lose weight (something that a very few of those who embark on it succeeds at). The objective of losing weight can become clearer and attainable if the path to achieve it is organized and displayed with realistic goals. To make things clearer just follow the infographic below:
“Remember… for every Mark Zuckerberg “like” success stories, there are tens of thousands others who “tried” out ideas, started small businesses, igniting hobbies in to a careers, and did not see their enterprises make it to its’ first anniversary”
The “Idea” here is to lose weight. Keep in mind that an “idea” can go through several changes, innovations and evolutions in a business reality – just as facebook did in its conceptual stages. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind to allow room for the idea to evolve – BUT the important step is getting started.
Everyone has lofty expectations at the start, so it is necessary to have “realistic” expectations. Without having a realistic view on what to accomplish, can have irreparable setbacks. Wanting to lose 50 lbs in six months is an unrealistic expectation without understanding factors as metabolism, nutrition, exercise and commitment.
This is why an “Objective” is needed to clearly distinguish an attainable goal as to how much weight can be lost in terms of time and commitment. In the graphic above the objective is set to losing 50 lbs in one year (12 months).
Once the Objective is determined, we need to understand the “core strategy” that is needed to reach that objective. In terms of losing weight it is NUTRITION and FITNESS. In a business start up the “core strategy” can be securing funding/investors, budgeting each phase of development, outsourcing work/hiring employees, renting out office space, etc.
The first step in putting the OAS in motion is to get the preliminaries taken care of. In the case we need to look in to the possibilities of joining a gym or planning an activity routine. Similar to planning a fitness regime, we need to be aware of the dietary concerns. This can be the most difficult to endure. The best bet will be to consult a dietician.
Once after joining a gym, it is vital that you have a fitness chart drawn up by a gym instructor. The first phase will be to lose fat and the exercises and warm ups will be related to losing fat. Each subsequent quarter will become harder and more rigorous in terms of burning calories and building muscle.
The dietary chart can also be altered during each phase concurrent to the fitness regime. The first quarter will include more vegetables and grains to lose weight, and the last quarter will include more protein so as to allow muscle growth.
As you can see the 12 month plan of losing 50 lbs is further broken down to four quarters. Each quarter has fitness objectives– lose body fat, body toning, body sculpting, etc. The nutrition routines change (in terms of calorie intake) accordingly. In a startup the timeline can include procuring funding, finishing different phases before acquiring an office space, reaching out to clients and customers, etc.
A “Measurement” mechanism is in place to make sure that objectives were reached… or not. In the case of losing weight, we use a scale. By measuring the weight on a weekly basis, we can have a realistic view on the progress of the objective and the possibility of accomplishing the “objective”. In a startup do NOT use your revenue growth as your instrument of measurements. In most cases you will not start to see revenue until the second or third year.
At the end of the 12 month period (in the infographic) the idea of losing 50 lbs was not met. BUT the crucial fact is that we are much closer to reaching the idea than we were 12 months ago.
STRENGTHS TO REINFORCE
In a weight loss regime, we already know what strengths to reinforce (despite how difficult they are). This list can be modified at any stage during the course of time, and can be key evidence as to why the idea did not meet its specific goals. In a business reality such information can be crucial when coming up with future strategies.
THREATS TO AVOID
Getting rid of old habits will be tough when committed to losing weight. This is why many people succumb mid way in the program and give up. In a start-up reality one key step is managing personal and business finances. Knowing what expenses to meet ahead of time will be crucial. The annual summer vacations with the family may have to wait another year to reserve money for business expenditure.
“I remember really vividly, you know, having pizza with my friends a day or two after I opened up the first version of Facebook. At the time I thought, ‘You know, someone needs to build a service like this for the world’. But I just never thought that we’d be the ones to help do it. And I think a lot of what it comes down to is we just cared more” – Mark Zuckerberg
It is clear that Zuckerberg’s “idea” incubated in to greatness because of three things:
(1) His enthusiasm and his unending devotion to evolving the “initial idea”.
(2) Support network of friends, advisors, investors who believed in his “idea”.
(3) Having an “Organized Actionable Strategy” to launch the “idea” to a company.
So… does an OAS guarantee success if accomplished with an undying devotion to seeing it through? Well… it will surely move you closer to understand the laborious task of getting started on a “start-up”. It will also bring a realistic understanding of how difficult the whole process is, and will teach you two important things:
(1) What works
(2) What does NOT works
Whatever your business idea, product or service There is one thing that will surely work on every level of communications and marketing in a start-up – VIDEO! Why? Because video will help take your idea further and will make it easier for investors, marketers and your target audience to understand the potential of it. Video will also consume less time, fewer resources, and will be “The Most Effective Communication Medium” available today to yield the BEST results.
Find out How Video Works and Why you should include it in your start-up communications.
Link to Video
Need an Instant motivation and focus shot in the arm? Watch this VIDEO on how to do it in 60 seconds.