Guest Post ByAlex Muriu
The other day I am at Nairobi’s only Mobile Apps Testing Lab with my team. We were at the final stages of building a Mobile E-Commerce Application for a client and needed to see how the experience felt across various devices.
As we congregate around one machine trying to put our minds together around the bug, someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around and it is a face I could barely remember. Either way he seemed ecstatic to see me, and in the process of feigning an equal measure of excitement, I showed him what we were working on.
Before he leaves, he tells me that if I am running a Tech Startup, there is one Book I absolutely MUST read, as it will change my Life. He had my attention.
The book turned out to be The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. If you have not read it, I suggest you hit this link to Amazon. It will be a great injustice to try and summarize Ries’s book, but I will go on a limb and quote a paragraph.
“…the story of perseverance, creative genius, and hard work persists. Why is it so popular? I think there is something deeply appealing about this modern-day rags-to-riches story. It makes success seem inevitable if you just have the right stuff. It means that the mundane details, the boring stuff, the small individual choices don’t matter. If we build it, they will come. When we fail, as so many of us do, we have a ready-made excuse: we didn’t have the right stuff. We weren’t visionary enough or weren’t in the right place at the right time”
If you ask any Successful person whether what they are today is what they envisioned at the beginning, the answer 99.99% of the time will be no. The crisis of our generation’s entrepreneurs is we hang a proverbial carrot in front of our own eyes and start chasing it. The carrot could be as fickle as winning a Tech Competition or the more common vision of one day kissing our dumb-ass boss goodbye.
Couple that with youthful impatience and what you have is a frustrated yet brilliant young Man or Woman sitting on what could potentially be the next big thing.
For every Successful Startup founder, there are 1,000 others blaming everything from Corporates stealing their ideas, to African VCs being unwilling to invest in Startups to the Market not being ready for their revolutionary idea.
Build with Love
A fairly unknown anecdote about Jobs is that whenever he hired a new Senior Manager at Apple, he would tell them, “The janitor gets to explain why something went wrong. Senior people do not. When you’re the janitor reasons matter. Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering”
Steve’s Passion was the stuff of Legend.
One of his more famous character traits was his inability to accept no for an answer. He would fume if someone he wanted to hire as a VP at Apple refused the offer. He would fume if a Journalist didn’t think a new Apple feature wasn’t as a cool as Jobs believed it was. If Jobs wanted a technical aspect of an Apple product to be built in a certain way, and his Engineers felt otherwise, he would fume.
Many people believe it is this Passionate Stubbornness on Jobs’s part that made Apple what it is today.
There is no Finish Line in Entrepreneurship
It reminds me of something Gates once said, “If I'd had some set idea of a finish line, don't you think I would have crossed it years ago?”
Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly
One of the things Eric emphasizes on in his book is that Entrepreneurship is Management. How many Entrepreneurs have you heard complaining how they just can’t seem to find the right people to join their Companies? Between trying to spend your Angel Investor’s money wisely and trying to get a superb developer to build your App, you get caught up in a tricky catch 22 situation.
Five months into my current Company, I had interviewed tens of people, fired four and everyone currently on my payroll is on probation.
The firing part is tough. Forget the dramatic scenes on the Apprentice show when Trump sounds out the ominous ‘You are Fired!’. Firing is a painful process for an Entrepreneur. It means going back out there, it means delayed projects, it means disappointed clients and it means time wasted, a valuable asset in a Startup.
But like Trump does it, as an entrepreneur, when your gut tells you to fire someone, don’t take two months to do it, just do it! You are better off working twenty hour days than having an employee drawing a salary and killing your Startup while at it.
Entrepreneurship is a Calling
You have been called by the forces of nature to influence culture, change lives and grow economies through your unique gifts. Think like Gates, Dream like Jobs and Fire like Trump.