The best business advice: Just do it!

*Yea. I know that’s the Nike slogan. But it’s just about the best way to summarize this and I’m sticking to it. *

I’m a self diagnosed compulsive creator and I’m happy about it.

As I see it the best way to learn business is to just do it and see what comes of it. I’ve learned a lot through my successful (and unsuccessful) projects and business ideas (a few of which are featured above) and this article is a tribute to the many lessons I’ve learnt through them.

So far I’ve only had to completely kill 4 of the major projects I’ve worked on. Truth be told it’s disheartening in every way to see your project or business fail. There’s no denying that one thing all new ideas have in common is their propensity to fail. A few of my failed projects slowly faded out of existence and the rest have been neatly incorporated into larger, more successful projects. In either case I try to make sure that the time and resources put into each individual project gets some form of positive outcome, and on the long run hopefully gain enough experience to make that rate of failure a flat zero.

A few of the skills I’ve picked up through all this have been things like sponsorship hunting, marketing, accounting, business ethics, legal frameworks (things like registering companies, privacy laws and etc), copywriting, editorial work, coding and design. Some of these things you just get good at by doing — and of course you might be able to ‘take a class’ to learn all this; but what’s the fun in that. You really do learn better when you experience it.

This piece of writing is about the things I’ve learnt and how best to invest time and resources in projects and businesses. Out of this lineup the most important one is:

If it’s not working; fail as quickly as possible.

If you feel that a project is not working out, and there is no way to rescue it from it’s inevitable doom; then shut it down as soon as possible and move on. Hanging onto the shreds of a failing project just holds you back from all the new things you could try; and each extra second you spend trying to keep it going becomes a complete waste of resources and time.

If you’re worried about people judging you about it; just remember you at least tried — and who gives a f**k about what they think anyway? At the end of the day everybody’s judging everybody; at least you did what you want.

Get something out there as soon as possible and test the waters.

The first iteration of your product, service or idea doesn’t need to be perfect. The most important ‘first step’ is to find out if that idea in your head will work in the real world. I try to create the most basic version of the product/idea and test it out with a small group or share the idea and see what people have to say.

DeviantART forum screenshot
(Many thanks to Bart from DeviantART for the feedback and advice!)

Most of the projects I’ve tried to get off the ground have been websites, magazines, apps (both web and mobile) and consulting services — things that could be run online, and part-time on the most part because my main focus right now happens to be my studies. It’s all about rapid skill acquisition at the moment, and having said that:

DIY: Do It Yourself

Learn everything there is to about launching the projects you love. Things like branding, accounting, fund raising, getting websites online and marketing. Of course you could (and should) partner up with someone who has the skills you don’t, but it’s important you know all about this stuff too as it can help you prepare for rapidly launching an idea: usually even before you find partners to collaborate with. It’s not enough to have a killer idea; it’s only worth anything if you’re the first to act on it!

Partner up!

Even though it might be tough to find a qualified and willing person to work with— everything’s so much easier if you find someone who shares your passion. Finding the right co-founder can be hard, and we’ve all heard the tales of how these partnerships sometimes end. But the worst thing you could do is avoid partnering up just because there is a chance it could end badly. If you think a person can help you get the job done and he/she is not a sociopath; then go for it. You’ll learn about partnership agreements along the way anyways.

Don’t just do things you’re passionate about

Sometimes the most successful project or business you could do might not the one you love the most. While it’s important that you love what you do; the world doesn’t work that way. Use the successful ideas to build up resources (*mostly money) *to back things that you’re more passionate about. Never abandon a successful business idea or project just because you don’t like it!

Just do it!

If you’ve got an idea and you think it might work — then just go for it and see what comes of it! Any hey if you want any help meet me at www.grantup.co or email udara[at]designn[dot]org

*Note: I realized that I’ve used the terms project, business-idea, startup and business quite inconsistently through the article. To clarify (within this post) projects and business ideas are businesses and startups prior to official registration. *

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I write regularly about design, science, tech and all things I find interesting. Get my essays delivered right to your inbox by subscribing.