Massimo is considered to be the #1 chef in the world. You want to be that? You either cook great already or you need to start doing that.
Aspiring to be someone great is a natural emotion to have. Be it a chef, or an entrepreneur. That is why role models exist.
The problem with the whole notion of role models is the fact that people are not inspired by the journey, they are inspired by the destination.
Sure, you will see random inspirational videos about the struggle Sylvester Stallone or Ed Sheeran (yes — came across this one yesterday) went through, and sure — people will look at that and say “Wow!”. But they really don’t care about the journey. They just want to be where the guy is today. Nobody gives a flying fuck about whether someone is good at what he does or not. That is why people did not give Christiano Ronaldo the time of their day when he was showing off his skills dressed as a homeless man at a street corner.
And that is why people often ask the wrong questions.
Came across this question today —
Can you hire a good team and advisors for your startup without money?
The question isn’t wrong. It is quite a genuine question, to be honest. And if I am being honest, then I must say that my answer wasn’t. My answer was genuine, but was wrong. Because for the large part, it did not address the question at all. The answer to a “Can” question can possibly start with only two responses — YES and NO. They are the only two responses that really matter, and they are only two responses that are acceptable. My answer did not have either. (Just realised it as I was writing these lines.)
But why not? It was quite a simple question; one that many entrepreneurs go through every single day. This particular question would have been debated to, till death by now, and any entrepreneur can answer this question from his own personal experiences. So, the answers exist. So why did I not provide one? I had two personal anecdotes myself that I could have shared.
So why didn’t I?
Because I think that it was probably the wrong question to ask.
Can I be sure about that? No, of course not. But based on dozens of recent interactions with entrepreneurs, that is what the safe bet is.
We all want to be great at what we do, we all want to create a difference. It is a natural thing to aspire to excellence, and that aspiration is a great thing to have.
But we probably start it wrong.
You don’t aspire to become the #1 chef in the world because you want to become the #1 chef in the world.
You aspire to become the #1 chef because you cook, you love cooking, you are great at cooking, people come to your house just to eat what you cook, they feel angry and betrayed when you don’t cook the much awaited delicious meal you are so well known among your peers for.
You aspire to be the #1 chef because you are already amazing at it, and now — you want to get better. You want to get better than everybody else.
A business never starts with an idea. A business starts with a problem. Always.
You see a problem that exists, you evaluate the impact of the problem in the everyday life of the people who are facing it (need), you see the sheer volume of such people (market size), and then you aspire to be the solution to change that (the vision). And then you start moving in that direction — slowly, but surely. That is how a business is born.
At this stage, you don’t need advisors, you don’t need a team, you don’t need the fat cheques. You just need to put yourself out in front of the people for whom you are solving the problem. You need to understand how badly they are getting impacted, is the problem critical enough for them to want to get it solved or are they comfortable just walking it off? And then you need to find the answer to the biggest problem of them all — would they be willing to PAY for that solution? In cash or kind, it doesn’t matter. Let’s not worry about that for now.
If they are not open to paying for the solution, then either the problem isn’t big enough or the solution isn’t good enough. So get back to the drawing board and start working on your approach again.
ITERATE AND RE-ITERATE
Keep at it to the point where you are seeing a good percentage of people actually paying for what you are offering. Made a dozen sales? Good! Now we are in business. Now we know how to cook. The first part is done.
Now let’s get better. This is the stage where you need to start building a serious team. This is when you start talking to industry experts and veterans — to pick on their brains. How can they help you improve the solution, what can they tell you about the nuances of the space, can they help you get a foot in the door for some strategic meetings that could help the business? Great! Start bringing onboard the right set of people — in whatever capacity the business needs them to. Advisors, co-founders, core team members, or your first hires.
Make more sales. Made 50–100 sales? Amazing! You, my dear sir, are a rockstar. Let’s go meet some VCs now.
By this time, you have done quite a lot.
- identified a problem
- have a vision on how to solve it
- have a first quick and dirty solution — one that isn’t the most efficient one, but that gets the job done
- people are paying for what you have to offer
- you have a team in place
- you have a bunch of industry experts guiding you.
VCs are in the business of investing money in companies they see the potential to be HUGE. Put yourself in their shoes and re-read the above points. Do you think the person presenting those points has a good chance now? I would think so.
And that is how you get on the road, the journey to be Massimo. Slowly, but surely. But if you can’t tell Rosemary from thyme — all the youtube recipe videos and instagram foodporn isn’t going to help you get there.
Have fun! Let’s chat. Humans, bots — really doesn’t make much difference to me.