I wrote this post in July 2003. I started thus: “It is a fascinating time to be a part of the world of technology. There are many new areas opening up. There are new markets waiting to be discovered. There are new technologies emerging out of the woodwork. Every entrepreneur tries to build a company in his own image, doing what he is good at.” It was true then, and it is as true now.
Some of the ideas I discussed:
Focus on non-consumption, not competition. A company is defined by its competition. I don’t like competition because aggressive marketing and spending a lot of money is not something which I enjoy. I like to look for new, invisible markets and get there first. This gives me time to get things right because I know I am going to make some mistakes – so might as well make them while no one else is watching! More importantly, the non-consumption market is typically much larger than the consuming market.
Envision tomorrow. This is perhaps one of the hardest things to do. It is also the most important. Today is visible all around us. But how will all that is happening today make a difference a few years from now? Because that is the world which we are building for. We need to think about where all the developments of today are leading. It does not matter whether one is right or wrong at this stage – if we succeed in creating the future, we will be proven right! Otherwise, it does not matter. We are envisioning the world of tomorrow, and also through our actions seeking to create that future. Having a sense of the endgame helps decide what intermediate steps need to be taken. It also helps us orchestrate the others into exactly the positions that we want them.
Begin. As has been said, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It is amazing how many ideas never see the light of day. My regret would be not that I tried and failed, but that I did not try. Failure is the worst thing that can happen – and it is temporary. But not making the attempt – one has to live a life with that thought. If one makes the decision to close one door, God opens others. But it is we humans who have to take the first step. This is in some ways a very difficult thing to do. Status quo is easy. Change and uncertainty is not.