Simple Venturing

What heats up must cool down… From the baking heat and relaxation back to London.

Trying, oh so hard, to retain the best bits of London in Kenya and the best bits of Kenya in London.

Spying on myself in each place – using the juxtapositions to explore the essence of Simpletom, to determine what is me and what is my surroundings.

In the last couple of months, there’s been the beginnings of a turn in my professional life.

I was reminded, with the help of a successful entrepreneur who took an interest in my work, that for all the dedication, there is an opportunity cost of working that’s not only about what you could be doing if you weren’t working – but also what other work you could be doing.

What if you’re doing just fine, but that your skills would be much better suited to a different pursuit?

Much of life is about trying to discover what you’re best at. But even then, you might be a good entrepreneur with a shitty idea. You can do all the things an entrepreneur would normally do and still finish frustrated, dissatisfied and perhaps bankrupt.

Yet if we always look onward and what ‘might be’, we may never give our current pursuits the momentum and graft they need. What’s right for you might not feel easy. At what point do you twist, or stick?

Where does simplicity fit into all of this? If we maximize our potential, are we enabling simplicity? If we think simply, might we not invent, or push ourselves to maximize the social good of which we’re capable? Might we regret what we didn’t do, might we resent simplicity for holding us back?

Jeff Bezos of Amazon stated that he started the company because of a ‘regret minimization framework’ – namely that if he didn’t do it, he might always regret it.

Regardless of whether the world is better with or without Amazon – if he’d opted for simplicity would that have meant not bothering?

When I got back from my adventures in Kenya 6 months ago, I was committed to building a new business. So off I trotted and worked hard and devised innovative methods and made hundreds of calls and worked myself to the bone. Yet nothing much happened. I’ve managed to bring aboard a few clients and see some inklings of movement. Admittedly, at six months in, it’s still early in the process. If I continued, perhaps things would start to gain traction and fly. However, it’s been a whole load of effort with little reward.

Do I continue? Or is it better to use the relative flexibility that a small business enables and u-turn before it’s too far gone, with a slight knock to ones pride?

I think the latter.

I’ve decided that I need to shift the business for several reasons. The first – that I’m not sure I’m enjoying it. Second, the market is dead and looks like it will be for some time still. Third, the ‘old’ model of recruitment is also dying, or at least isn’t prone to flashes of creativity. You put in X you get our Y. Simple, perhaps, but in the world of the Internet and technology, there are other businesses where you can put in X and get 100Y. Not that the X=Y work isn’t important and perhaps truer and purer. I’m thinking of a carpenter or gardener here, for example. Nevertheless, if you’re not enjoying it and it’s not producing results (other than the wonderful lessons we learn) then the X just doesn’t add up. In addition, only a few businesses finish the way they started – rather than being stubbornn, or seeing the initial slow start as a failure, should I optimistically see it as a learning experience, or a fertile bed for new developments.

My only concern is that it’s happened a lot.

I have a new idea I’ve been working on. An exciting one. One that requires a change of direction. Perhaps not a complete U-turn, but one that does require a healthy sidestep.

Moreover, I’ve remembered what it is to be an enthusiastic entrepreneur, full of ideas and passion, instead of someone flogging a semi-alive donkey.

Prior to working on this idea, it’s been hard and I’ve been excusing that resistance, believing that it’s essential in the pursuit of doing something well.

That’s still true, but if all of it’s difficult, you have to wonder if you’re doing something wrong.

With this new idea, things have fallen into place. Investors are interested. People want to join  in and potential clients want to hear more. Suddenly it feels less like a fight.

Starting a business is difficult, but if it’s too difficult – maybe something’s wrong. Like a good relationship – there will always be difficult parts, some extremely difficult. However, there are relationships you want to stick with. They’re the ones where your commitment pushes you through the most difficult times and give you the energy to carry on. On the other hand, some relationships just won’t work, and you don’t have the energy to continue. At the beginning both look attractive, but I guess it’s only through exploration that you truly discover where you’re heading.

We’ll see… but for the moment, I’m enjoying this traction and movement and loving the fact that progress is easy, rather than a struggle.

More shortly!

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