If you think about nearly every huge company in existence today, they all started as tiny little projects with one or two or three people who were trying to do something that they felt would be cool and interesting to try. Here are a dozen examples:
- Google started with two guys and a couple of computers at Stanford University [ref]
- Amazon.com started with one guy and a business plan – “Within two months, Amazon’s sales were up to $20,000/week” [ref]
- Facebook started as a tiny project developed by a sophomore at Harvard University [ref]
- FedEx started with one guy who wrote a paper in college about his idea. [ref]
- McDonald’s started with one restaurant owned by two brothers. [ref]
- “Nike, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), was founded by University of Oregon track athlete Phil Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964. The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS), making most sales at track meets out of Knight’s automobile.” The book “Shoe Dog” written by Knight is amazing. [ref]
- Apple computer started with Steve Wozniak and a very simple home computer in a wooden case [ref]
- Walmart started with Sam Walton and a single store he bought in Arkansas [ref]
- “The Papa John’s restaurant was founded in 1984 when “Papa” John Schnatter knocked out a broom closet in the back of his father’s tavern, Mick’s Lounge, in Jeffersonville, Indiana. He then sold his 1971 Camaro Z28 to purchase US$1,600 worth of used pizza equipment and began selling pizzas to the tavern’s customers out of the converted closet. His pizzas proved so popular that one year later he was able to move into an adjoining space.” [ref]
- The story of Dominos Pizza is similar. Two brothers purchased an existing restaurant called Dominick’s. One brother dropped out of the business, and Tom Monaghan made it a big deal. [ref]
- Two friends named Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started Bend and Jerry’s Ice Cream. “In 1977, Cohen and Greenfield completed a correspondence course on ice cream making from The Pennsylvania State University’s Creamery. Cohen has severe anosmia, a lack of a sense of smell or taste, and so relied on “mouth feel” and texture to provide variety in his diet. This led to the company’s trademark chunks being mixed in with their ice cream. On May 5, 1978, with a $12,000 investment, the two business partners opened an ice cream parlor in a renovated gas station in downtown Burlington, Vermont.” [ref]
- I started HowStffWorks.com as a hobby, writing articles at my kitchen table on weekends. People enjoyed the articles and told their friends. See also Chapter 18 for more information.
The point is that there are people who say to themselves, “I would like to try ______.” So they go out and try it. In many cases they cobble together a modest amount of time and money, and they give it a shot.
One thing to understand is the importance of failure in all of this. The 12 examples above are all nice, but there are tons of people who try ideas that fail. This is fine. It is part of the process. We should not look down on ideas that don’t go anywhere. We should celebrate and encourage people who give things a try.
The point here is simple: You can start with just yourself, or with yourself and a partner. The important part is to get something, anything, started. This video can help you understand the mindset:
It seems like a strange question, but have you ever thought about where the monster truck craze came from in America? It turns out that there are many different ways that innovation occurs on Earth. As an example, consider Monster Trucks.
Where did monster trucks come from? One day there was no such thing as monster trucks, or monster truck shows in sports arenas. Then these monster trucks, starting with a truck called “Big Foot”, appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The whole craze started with a person named Bob Chandler:
As an entrepreneur, this is the most important thing: resonance. You have to find an idea, and a value proposition, that resonates with some group of customers.