Friday, March 14, 2008

Hopping off the rocket

I think that one of the factors which prevent many people from attaining success is quitting on a success.

Seven years ago I was talking to an old friend, and he asked me how long I'd been doing DOMAI. I said it'd been four years. So he asked me: "so what do you plan on doing next?"

"Next?" I said. He then said that most people he knew, when they'd been doing something for three to five years, then moved on to something entirely different.

I forget what I said, but it may have been something on the lines of: "I have a fun business, not too difficult, and it's earning good money. Why would I go do something else?"

I'm sure people have many explanations for why they changed tacks in the middle of something successful. But I suspect that the real reason is not rational, but compulsive. Otherwise it would not be so ubiquitous when it's clear that one of the main factors in achieving success is keeping doing something and get better and better.


Bert said...

Sometimes, rockets just run out of fuel, you know. You have to be lucky enough to get aboard the right one.

eolake said...

It's an issue, but I think a far smaller one.

Peaceful Blade said...

Aye, self-sabotage is the bigger issue. Whether it's insecurity over the prolonged success of one's current endeavor or a drive to keep betting long after you've won a sizable lot, there's usually more to gain in persisting than switching gears.

Not that there's never any merit to it, but cases like I mentioned above are driven by the wrong motivators. You can't continue success or start something new if you're afraid and insecure. Even if somehow it does pay off financially your neurosis would only increase making the gain moot. "Now I've got something else that could potentially go wrong. Woe is me!"

ttl said...

"Doing" is what you actually do, i.e. how you spend most of your waking ours. It is not synonymous to how you make a living. People who inherit a lot of money also "do" things even though they don't have to earn a living.

Also, many entrepreneurs don't end up "doing" their businesses. They build it to a point where it runs itself, and then they sell it, or step aside, and launch a new one. These types of people are called "serial entrepreneurs". They derive their pleasure from starting a business from scratch and seeing it succeed.

Steve Jobs has two very successful businesses: Apple and Pixar.
Donald Trump has over 200 successful businesses mostly in the same field.
Richard Branson has over 200 successful businesses ALL IN DIFFERENT FIELDS!

As for "hopping off the rocket", there are three separate cases:

1. Trying something else after concluding that the horse you bet on wasn't a winner.

2. Keeping on polishing a winner in order to get gradual organic growth.

3. Compounding on a winner. I.e. using the profits to expand or launch another business on the side.

The main reason entrepreneurs do #3 instead of being content with #2 is because they know that markets change. The best way to be prepared for that is to be proactive: have another horse to ride after the first one loses steam.

Perhaps the best example of #3 is Apple and the iPhone. The company wasn't in the telephone business, but after killing a number of less successful products and being successful with the original iMac, an opportunity opened to them to venture into a completely new field, the portable music player. The product, iPod, turned out to be a huge success. This then opened up an even greater opportunity for them to try and venture into the telephone business, and so on.

At this point, even if the Mac business would completely dry up, Apple would be ok because the iPod and iPhone have surpassed the Mac in sales.

In contrast, the record industry (the big four) are screwed. They were sitting on their laurels and were in no way prepared for the revolution that Napster (and its successors) would bring about. Now, out of desperation they are suing everything that moves. If there ever was a failing business strategy, suing your customers has got to be it.

Pascal [P-04referent] said...

I'm glad Pixar was founded! :-)

"If there ever was a failing business strategy, suing your customers has got to be it."

Yeah! They'd better handle it NRA style, "like real men".

My word verification: bfxczttl. What's a bfxcz???