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Almost doesn’t count

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Working in the world of start-ups is alway incredibly good fun but every now again you come across the “woulda, shoulda, coulda” lot who will go on to tell you at great length about how they nearly started Deliveroo or how they came up with Uber before Uber did and how one day they’ll start that $1 billion dollar idea and sell that unicorn.

Yep we’ve all been guilty of occasionally saying that we had the idea for Facebook or Instagram at some point in our entrepreneurial journey but the more I work with talented start-ups as part of my role with Tech North, I am beginning to see what really sets apart the start-ups that we work with and the general wantrapreneurs.

I used to think it was connections, or network or funding or even what university you went to. And maybe, just maybe in some small shape or form it is all of those things, but if that really was the case then wouldn’t everyone be trying to get into that university or network? Wouldn’t we all raise the same amount in funding or have the same non-execs on our boards? No the thing that sets these entrepreneurs apart is that they actually did it. Not almost. Actually did it.

The curse of almost

For those who regularly read my musing, you’ll know I’m a massive fan of Mel Robbins — not to be confused as the wife of Tony Robbins — an American life coach who promotes the 5 second rule and how it can change your life. It has turned her into one of the most booked female speakers in the world, earned her an engaged and dedicated fan base, and spurred her on to write several books and create tonnes of content on the matter. And she says several times, that she had to push herself and almost didn’t do it.

I hear it all the time in the start-up world of those who almost started that idea or almost went to that networking session or almost talked to that VC but they didn’t and that can be the difference in getting what you want out of life or standing on the sidelines as you watch other people take the prize.

I was once at the MADE Festival in Sheffield a couple of years back and one of the speakers was talking about this exact subject. She said that for every business idea at least 10 people will have thought of it.

Of those 10, maybe 6 have started to work on it and done a bit of research but then stopped when they hit their first roadblock, 3 will have persevered but let everyday little things get in the way and don’t dedicate the time it takes to get the idea off the ground. And then there is 1 person who does everything they can to test the idea, run with it and turn it into a successful business and therefore reap the rewards of their effort. Therefore, what right do the other 9 people have to say that it was their idea? Really all they can say is that they almost set it up but in actual fact they couldn’t be bothered because starting and running a business takes immense time and energy just to get off the ground. Almost doesn’t come into it.

A couple of years ago, I looked into using motorcycles to deliver lunches made by local restaurants to office workers but after chatting to a couple of advisors, dismissed the idea. Can I say that I almost started Deliveroo? No the hell I can’t. I dismissed the idea on the back of a couple of people who didn’t know the industry telling me it would be too expensive and that nothing like that had ever really been done before. I gave up and fell at the first couple of road blocks that came my way. The Deliveroo founders deserve all the glory they get because they moved past those problems and roadblocks and went on to create a company that turned into a unicorn.

Don’t be one of those who almost did something. Make a conscious decision now to work towards your goals and don’t let almost get in the way. When you’re thinking about whether or not you should go to that networking event or reach out to that investor on LinkedIn or even if you should forego an evening in front of the TV to work on your idea, count down from 5–4–3–2–1 and get to work.

Nobody remembers the person who almost did something.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, click the below so other people will see this here on Medium. I’d also love to hear about the time you followed through despite the challenges and achieved something you’re proud of — tell me all about it in a comment on this article.