How much do you need to know to build a startup? From what I have seen of big entrepreneurs and founders they tend to not worry about knowing things, but rather doing things.
A lot young people have an education. Often it is the education that disables them from doing – they know so much that they don’t even know where to start. Walking out of my law school graduation I remember sensing that I had too much information, and little idea of what to do with it.
What does the alternative look like? Having little information, and acting on what you know. This infographic very simply describes the life paths of two big entrepreneurs who built their businesses on one realization.
The first is a man who came from India. He dropped out of Princeton after a year. Then he went back to India for 12 years to meditate at an ashram. His goal? To learn to be still. After 12 years he came back and realized (or remembered) from prior jobs in the plastics factories that chemicals are much cheaper than the end products made out of them. He then bought some vitamins and caffeine and mixed them into a drink similar to something he took a swig of at a trade show. The 5 Hour Energy was born. The man is now a billionaire.
The second man came from Iran. Knowing almost no English he called another Iranian man about an ad for a rug salesman. Accepted, he started going around the Silicon Valley showing his rugs. His million-dollar realization? People who buy rugs are not only rich, they are influential. And they could be a mentor if you really ask. A lot of questions. So the rug salesman gradually learned about venture capital and started to arrange investor and entrepreneur meetings in his rug shop. Today he is one of the most respected VCs (source: forbes.com).
There would be a lot more big entrepreneurs in the world if more of us had this type of one-realization mindset. The problem is not that you and I never had realizations like these two. We have had too many. And the many of them make us question if the one you had an hour ago is really the one. Or should you wait to see “if you are really passionate about that idea.”
Whether this is called being still, being focused, uninformed, or even stupid – it would help to be a bit stupider so we can act on our realizations and start companies.