Thinking Like An Entrepreneur:

Let’s take a simple example of a guy who wants to start a multimedia production company. By this, I mean a company that produces interactive CD-ROMs, maybe, Internet web pages, and, maybe, computer-based training for other companies. If you are not familiar with these areas, don’t worry about it. It is not necessary to know exactly what this terminology means in order to fully understand this example. Let’s say our entrepreneur is named Henry. Henry does know what the above terminology means. In fact, he also knows just what software can be used to create the above content.

Henry makes a list of “What I Need To Learn.” The list includes Java, JavaScript, C, C++, Director, PhotoShop, Premier, Authorware and Sound Edit. He thinks, “OK, I need to be a good programmer. I need good artistic skills. I’d better be able to communicate clearly in writing. I’d better know something about sound and video editing. Some 3D modeling could come in useful. I should probably also know a bit about music scoring, and I will probably need to use some video within the CD-ROMs and computer-based training (CBT), so I’d better learn basic videography, also.”

Poor old Henry has a big job ahead! But, he persists. He learns it! And, he creates his first complete multimedia piece. And, it sucks! Bummer. Well, Henry was a good programmer, better than most. But his artistic skills sucked, and it showed in his creation. His video was better than he initially expected, but it wasn’t really that good, either. Henry simply could not do it all. No matter how hard he tried, he was just not mastering all of the areas he needed. He thought about going back to work for someone else. After all, that seemed so much easier!

My advice to Henry is to take a break. He’s earned it. Go watch a movie. In fact, make it The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner. It’s a great story. This little Mexican town is being pestered by bandits who take what little crops the town can produce. Further, the bandits are just downright rude when they visit. So, the little town collects what little money it has, presumably hidden from the bandits, and it goes to another slightly larger town to buy guns, so that the little town can defend itself. In their search for weaponry, the town representatives meet up with Yul Brynner, who, they hope, might be able to sell them guns. After all, Yul is a pretty tough-looking guy. They go to Yul, and ask him, “Will you help us buy guns?” Yul listens to them, and he responds, “Why buy guns? Why not buy men? Men are cheaper than guns.”

Never forget that line. If Henry really understands this line, he won’t look at things the same way. If Henry wanted to be a consultant and “do it all” himself, then, his list of learning topics would be valid. But, why spend any time trying to master PhotoShop, a graphic arts program, when you are not an artist to begin with? You can find people to hire who are artists and who know it. If you can’t justify hiring someone full-time, maybe, you could hire someone part-time. Maybe, you could scout the local technical colleges to see if any students would be interested in an internship. They gain experience and a reasonable entry-level wage, and you get a chance to evaluate their skills. Maybe, you already know someone with the skills you seek. Keep your eyes open and build contacts. Make lists of people who have skills that might be useful to the type of company you want to build.

Originally posted by Dane Carlson on February 15, 2005 in Ideas.

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