On starting things

I'm surprised more people don't start things. Internet things. New ideas. New opportunities. New websites.

There are a lot of super-smart people in New Zealand. Super-smart designers, developers and business people working hard to maintain the status-quo.

We can do more.

It surprises me that so few people who are willing to take a chance, and start something new. It disappoints me how few sites enter into the "Best New Site" category at the NetGuide Web Awards.

What are people working on?

Starting something new can be scary, but it doesn't have to mean giving up what's comfortable. It doesn't have to mean quitting your job. It doesn't have to mean turning your back on your colleagues. It doesn't have to mean risking it all.

These days we're spoiled by great jobs and we're spoiled by choice. Unlike five or 10 years ago, there are so many cool web companies we can work for. So many paid opportunities. Trade Me, Xero, Vend and others in New Zealand. Google, Facebook and the vast array of startups in Silicon Valley. If you're a developer, and you're good, you're pretty much guaranteed a job and a decent salary.

But why stop there? Why settle for that?

The reasons for starting something new seem obvious to me. It's exciting to start with a blank canvas. No body to impress. No body to worry about. No staff, no customers, no expectations. You get to imagine something, and make it so. You get to be uncompromising in your design. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. You get to do it your way. You're the boss.

If you already have a job (and if you're good, and you want one, then you probably do) then I'd argue you're in the perfect position to start something. Work in the evenings. Work in the weekends. Work on your days off. Negotiate something part-time. Keep your job and you don't have to worry so much about the bills. You don't have to worry about paying rent. You don't have to miss out on working on the exciting projects and businesses already up and running in New Zealand. Sure, you might have to give up a bit of your social life, but you'll be having fun, so who cares?

I was 21 when I started nzflatmates. I was studying at University and working part-time as a PA. I was 25 when I started Zillion and working part time at the University and then GP Store. These days I love my role at Mighty Ape, but it's not the only thing I'm working on. Each new things builds upon the other, and the key is to keep learning and keep momentum.

And don't let money stop you either. nzflatmates was up and running for less than $10,000. Zillion was less than $20,000. You don't need big investors or to win a fancy business competition to make a start. Sure, you can do it that way if you want, but despite what many think, it's not the only way. Keep your job and spend some of your own money instead.

It's true that not everyone wants to start something. Some people want nothing more than the opportunity to master a skill and be lucky enough to be paid for it. And that's fine. But if you have an idea, then please, just go for it. Keep your cool job but start discussing your idea with your colleagues. Get other people interested. Infect others with your ideas. Read books. Make friends with people who can help you. Get started.

posted by Dylan on 14 April 2013, 9:02 pm in , , , , ,