I am quickly approaching the six month mark of leaving my “day job” to work full time on disrupting the craft beer industry. Looking back, I thought the six month mark would resemble something completely different. A lot different.
Upon first glance, it almost seems as if I have been stuck at square one for the past six months. I would take one step forward, only to find that step was in the wrong direction. Originally, I set out to work with founders of craft beer companies. At a time when breweries are opening up quicker than beer geeks can change their underwear, it is an impossible task to stay ahead of the curve. You are constantly playing catch up.
It can’t be stated enough. Focus on solving one problem. Not two. Definitely not three. Find one thing and be great at it.
Every conversation I have had with any industry person has brought me to one of two problems within beer. The first is a shortage of talent. The second is distribution. I have ideas to try to solve these issues - but I need to pick just one.
This past month, I have held back the urge to throw myself head first toward the problem. Instead, I have focused my efforts on learning Ruby on Rails, the programming language that will be the backbone of this endeavor. Not having a code background, I found myself constantly limited with potential routes. Finding a viable solution this way is simply not possible. If you don’t know how to code, learn. The ability to combine digital and real world solutions to a problem is one of the most important skills necessary to succeed as an entrepreneur in today’s world.
While on the topic of skills, I need to find a co-founder. I probably need to find two. Putting a dent in the universe is hard work. What’s even more true is the fact that nearly all of my friends don’t get it. The average person goes to work to collect a paycheck - not to swing a samurai sword. No offense to any of my friends because they are great people. But until one of them jumps off that cliff, they will never understand what I am going through.
At one point, I was on the verge of throwing in the towel. I started building up momentum to work as a freelance copywriter. I almost convinced myself that it would be ok. I would still be working for myself and could finally answer the dreaded “are you making money” question. Then I went to Launch.
Launch Festival is a
conference celebration of entrepreneur culture. It was truly an inspirational event and one that I am so thankful to have been able to attend. In short, to be among similar minds was a breath of fresh air for me. If you are going to swing the bat, swing it hard, swing it fast and try to hit it out of the park. The failure rate of trying to build a small business is the same as trying to build a big company. Why not go for it all?
Finally, failure is a part of the process. You can read every start up book available. You can attend every conference and watch every webcast. The odds of failure are stacked against you. As I enter my sixth month, I begin the final month that I can afford to support myself without an income. Unless I win the lotto, I will need to have a “day job” again by June 1 or my rent will be late.
That’s not to say that I am quitting. I played with that idea already and it didn’t stick. Thus far, I have failed to find a successful and scalable business model. It’s out there - I just haven’t found the right fit.
For my skimmers, here is the abbreviated version:
- Day one’s map will likely be obsolete come day one hundred and eighty.
- Be amazing at one thing.
- Learn to code.
- Your friends will not get it.
- Find a co-founder.
- Despite the sleepless nights, it is in your best interest to keep going.
- Failure is a part of the journey, not the end of the journey.