“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart” — Winnie the Pooh.
I went to a conference once where a venture capitalist said that if entrepreneurs treated their startups more like their children and also saw their companies with the eyes of children, chances are we would get more interesting and noteworthy companies.
I think entrepreneurs need to see their startups as children because an idea, no matter how small, has the potential to take up great deal of room in both your heart and your mind. Being an avid fan of the popular children’s book series Winnie the Pooh by A.A Milne, it’s easy for me to see the lessons the lovable tubby bear and his friends can teach entrepreneurs today.
Pooh Bear’s adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with his friends are always filled with different scenarios that require the bear or one of his friends to come up with a solution.
But seriously, what does Winnie the Pooh know about your very complicated startup idea and what lessons can entrepreneurs learn from the Hundred Acre Wood?
Here are some lessons from Pooh Bear and his friends:
Inspiration is key
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
Be inspired. There is nothing more terrible than an uninspired entrepreneur. If you want to start a business, the idea must inspire you and in turn you must inspire others with your passion for the idea. Pooh teaches children to live a life full of inspiration and imagination. If your idea doesn’t inspire anything or is not inspired, what is the point of it?
Do some research
“Before beginning a hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.”
“Organization is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.”
Before you start a company it is important to do some research. A little Googling and question-asking never hurt anyone. There is no point wanting to disrupt an industry that has been disrupted to death. Your idea needs to solve a problem not just try to repeat someone else’s success. So do some research to make sure your idea is solving a problem and is fulfilling a much-needed gap in the market.
Put yourself out there
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
“They’re funny things, accidents. You never have them ’til you’re having them.”
There is no such thing as a quiet, shy startup. Entrepreneurs that are afraid to put themselves out there really have no business starting a business. If you can’t do it yourself get someone who is willing to be a champion for your idea. A VC will not magically come and ask to give you money, they will have to know about you first, so make some noise about what you do.
A little caution is always good
“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.”
“Pay attention to where you are going because without meaning you might get nowhere.”
Just because an idea sounds really good and it seems to be the latest craze, that doesn’t mean it is a good idea. Your startup is your child and you don’t really want to mess around with that. While you are busy researching it is always good to be a little cautious when it comes to opportunities around your company. You don’t want to jump into something too quickly and realise you’ve made the wrong decision. A little caution is good.
“What day is it?” “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
That being said, Carpe Diem is also a good thing. When the right opportunities come along you should also be willing to risk everything. The measure of how much you want your business to succeed is how much you are willing to do for it. Just as you would risk everything for your child, you should also be willing to risk it all for an idea you believe in.
Try, try, try again
“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”
So you emailed and called a VC to try to get them to hear your pitch and you feel that they are just not listening? Try a different approach. Generally, most VCs don’t like getting cold calls or email pitches. What do you do then? Find a way to get into their circles and get introduced. If anything, you should get stalking points.
Stop talking, build the damn thing already
“So perhaps the best thing to do is to stop writing introductions and get on with the book.”
I have met a few startups that have been talking about their idea for a while now…. but it never seems to get out of the idea phase. That is no good. At some point you need to turn the idea into an actual product or service. So stop talking and build something already. Plus, everyone always want to see a product.
Who is your product for?
“A little Cconsideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”
This lesson seems pretty obvious. If you want to solve a problem it is wise to ask people what problems they have. True, to innovate you have to give people things they don’t know they need or want yet. However, imagine how much more open to using your service they will be if they feel it is tailored to them. Think about the audience you are building for.
Always keep thinking
“Think it over, think it under.”
“Think. Think. Think.”
This is also quite simple. Always keep thinking of ways to innovate in your industry and the more innovative your startup is the more interest it will generate. Keep thinking.