January 7th, 2021
(1) All great businesses start from some embarrassingly simple idea
(2) Many startups fail because they compare their tiny idea to “big business”
(3) Great entrepreneurs gain confidence in being embarrassed
Avoid comparison, ignore big business!
When starting out, we often compare our tiny idea to big, established businesses. We go to their websites and assume we have to do all of the things they’re doing today.
This prevents so many people from even getting started, out of fear and paralysis.
It stopped me from getting started for years. Why? Because I assumed I had to be an expert in design, coding, marketing, sales, etc etc to even get started.
But this is (obviously) wrong.
You don’t need a fancy website. You don’t need an LLC. You don’t need to be able to code.
In fact, it’s actually better to ignore all of that when starting out.
Bottom line: Avoid comparing yourself to businesses that have been established for years.
That’s why we focus on covering very young businesses at Starter Story. Here’s a link to all case studies that (1) have started in the last 2 years and (2) have over $50K in monthly revenue.
Imagine telling your family your new startup rents out air mattresses
You may have heard of Airbnb. Their original idea? To rent out air mattresses to sleep on...
They knew their idea was crazy/embarrassing and they were OK with that. In their first 6 months of starting the business, they often made less than $200/week.
Instead of comparing themselves to multi-million dollar hotel brands, they were over the moon to be making a few hundred bucks with a silly idea. Here’s their original landing page.
Imagine starting something today and making a few hundred bucks? Does that sound reasonable?
More “embarrassing” ideas
Many of the world’s biggest businesses can be traced back to an embarrassing idea:
- Nike started as a reseller of non-Nike shoes (when running was what weirdos did).
- Under Armour started by selling undershirts from the back of his car (sketchy)
- Starter Story started by me calling founders and asking about their business (my friends asked me “how is this a business?”)
- Whole Foods started as a health-conscious supermarket (very uncool in 1980):
On confidence, and being like a kid
Think of that little enterprising kid who lives next door, he/she’s always starting new (and tiny) businesses.
Maybe today, he’s starting a business walking people’s dogs.
He doesn’t get embarrassed about his idea, he just walks over to his neighbor’s house, knocks on the door, and asks to walk their dog. And then he makes money.
“But walking dogs is not a real business!”
It actually is, especially in the pandemic:
- Donald’s dog walking side hustle makes $5K/month.
- Melody’s dog walking business makes $54K/month.
- My mom pays $200/week to have someone walk her dog...
Still not big enough? Rover makes $100M/year, and how did they get their start? They started in dog parks.
A better word for “embarrassing” is “simple”
Our ideas only seem embarrassing because they are so simple.
Your family and friends likely won’t get it, because they are mostly exposed to “big business” - and big business feels complicated. And they associate complicated with successful.
So in their heads, your tiny little idea is a bit embarrassing because it doesn’t seem complicated enough…
But you know, everything grows from a simple idea.
Simple is special. Tiny is terrific.