Do Start a Company, Son

I read a blog post this morning ( about reasons not to start a company. While I don't think all people should start companies, I found myself scratching my head as I agreed with the points but disagreed with the overall conclusion.

So I decided to rewrite the same points from a different perspective as an open letter to any of my 3 sons, should one of them have the dream, like I did, to start their own company.

Dear Son,

Got an idea for Instagram for Pet Owners? Weird, but ok. Here are a few things you should know.

You will fail

I'll be honest, son, the odds are steep. Most companies fail. But failure is part of life. It doesn't define you. Don't tie your identity so closely to your idea or company that its failure makes you a failure. Are you having fun? Are you learning? Then don't sweat it. Pick yourself up and try again.

You need some luck

Even if you have a good idea and work really hard, sometimes its not enough. Sometimes it comes down to a lucky break. But luck is outside of your control. Work on the things you can control. Put yourself out there. Surround yourself with people you want to become like.

Also, for every lucky-guy-story there is another story of someone who overcame bad luck with persistence and determination. Are you working hard? With good people? Then keep at it while you wait for lightning to strike.

The first few years are awkward

There's no way around this. The early days of any venture are awkward and inefficient. You'll wander and do things that don't scale or always make sense. But everyone and every company had to start somewhere. Remember when I taught you to ride your bike? It was really awkward at first. Anything new is. And those clunky training wheels. What a waste. We ended up throwing them away, didn't we?

New things are awkward. Expect it. But they are also fun, exciting, new & different. Don't be scared of new. Be humble, learn fast and keep moving.

When you have "enough", extra doesn't matter

If you're meeting your responsibilities (which will change if you marry or have kids) then almost everything else is extra.

If extra doesn't matter, what does? I can't tell you why you were placed here on earth at this place and time. That's your job to figure out. But I can tell you that "stuff" doesn't matter. People matter. Family matters. Friends matter. Helping others matters.

So don't ask "how can I become a billionaire?", or "where can I get enough?". Enough won't make you happy or fulfilled. But rather ask, "what is important?", then go and do that. Time, not money, is your most limited resource. Prioritize yours, son.

You will be guessing at problems

You'll be out there on a limb wondering whether you're solving the right problem for the right audience. But you'll figure it out. Remember when we watched Robots together? "See a problem, fix a problem." I'd rather you strike out fixing a few nonexistent problems than never learn how to see and solve them in general. Yes, you may be bad at first (like Instagram for Pet Owners). But you'll get better with time and practice. So practice and invest the time.

Got all that? I’m sure you'll discover these and more along the way.

Now go have fun. Life is an adventure to be lived; live it.

PS- if you want to work for P&G or Big Nerd Ranch, thats cool too. They are great companies. But don't get too comfortable or bored, no matter the company size. Work from your priorities and never stop learning.

PPS- if you want to hear what other successful entrepreneurs have to say, here are some good quotes:

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