The Art Of Starting
This is my first post ever, digitally speaking.
The reasons? Well, it is not that I have just had the idea of writing, as I have been writing for years by now. I have always done it in private, as a way of venting, and sometimes remembering stuff from my travels. But I think that starting to do it publicly will make me more consistent, and this will help me in putting my ideas in order.
And it is at this moment, suddenly, when the magic happens. As I started thinking about the reasons of taking up my new hobbie, an idea just popped into my head. I am going to dedicate this first article to the art of starting.
Would I have had this idea if I hadn’t started to write it?
Probably not. Actually, my thoughts were: ‘I will start writing, and then let’s see where it takes me’. For sure the main idea was already in my head somewhere, but the thing is that we have so many ideas and thoughts. Our head is a maze, full of mixed information. Everything is there, but you need to put things in order and let them out.
I know that not everybody works like this. There are people who are really good planners, they have great minds, and can visualize and preview everything, and act without any kind of hesitation. Most geniuses from the past had this ability.
But let’s get real: most people can’t do that.
That is why I started analyzing my own process, in order to understand and hopefully, being able to know exactly how to trigger my creativity and get things done more efficiently.
And I reached this conclusion: I need to start doing.
It sounds quite simplistic, but the reality for me is that I need to get started, even without having the final idea in my head, if I want something done.
Let me put an example from my own personal experience.
Back in 2012, still at university, me and a friend of mine had this idea for a company we wanted to create. It was a great idea, and everybody we kept telling it to was really impressed by it. When we presented it to some project competitions, everybody loved it.
But it was just an idea.
Some months later, everything felt overwhelming and too big for us. We had few resources, no money, and no idea of how were we going to execute it.
In the end, we lost the motivation and gave up.
The problem was that we did nothing but thinking and putting things in paper. We had this great Powerpoint presentation, a business plan and numbers. But the only thing we actually got from that was fear, as we started seeing all the work ahead of us.
“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self–conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
That is why, in 2015, after a year working in Santiago de Chile, I came back to Bilbao with the main purpose of creating and founding Phant, the idea my friend and I had and abandoned three years ago.
I called José, my old friend, and we decided not to make the same mistake. This time, we were going to start doing.
We created the ‘week plan’: each week, we had to do something which took us closer to our main goal. And it had to be something tangible.
We changed completely the business model from our old idea, in order to create a crowdfunding platform for projects with a social impact.
So, the first week, our objective was to find a web developer, as we were both from the business field and didn’t know coding.
Should we not have done something like that without the knowledge? Maybe.
Should we first have made a market analysis, marketing strategy and a canvas model? Not us.
We started doing. We hired a web development company, and designed with them everything from scratch. We spoke to lawyers and found out how the crowdfunding worked legally. In the meantime, we spoke to people and started looking for the first projects for the platform.
A bit risky, yes. But we were in it. Grinding. Not speaking about it, not writing stuff. Doing. And knowing that, we were much more motivated. The motivation surpassed the fear of what may come after. Each week was a victory.
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
W. H. Murray
One year later, we launched the platform with one first project of 3.000 €. We crowdfunded it quite easily.
But some months after that, reality came knocking at our door. It was quite difficult to find projects with so little money for marketing, and to compete against the great companies, with much more resources than us. So we started developing a new strategy and new business models.
Would we have reached this point if we had planned every detail beforehand?
I think we would have seen the industry numbers, the complex world of maintaining a crowdfunding platform, or the huge amount of existing companies; and we would not have done anything, due to the fear of failure.
But the reality is that, in few months, not only have we been able to learn (at full speed) thousands of aspects about crowdfunding, marketing and managing an online business, but also met people from different organizations which are trying to make the world a better place. And for me, this is priceless.
If we had not started, we will still be in doubt and fearful of what would have come next.
If all this finally ends up failing, I will leave as a better person, with much more learning and growth than if I had not started. I will go to whatever comes next, and I will be way more experienced. Practice makes perfect.
So my advise for anybody with an idea they are passionate about is to start doing. Learn in the way. Take steps. Speak to people. Do not overthink. And leave your mark (a positive one, if possible!). Either you win or you learn. Or much better, both of them. Remember, we are not living in eternity!