In my very first class session of business school, the very first activity the professor asked us to do was to write on an index card our one, five and ten year goals. The perspective he wanted us to take was of looking back from this time in the future and seeing all the steps we needed to take to get to that point. I am shocked that so far, this very first, seemingly obvious and predictable activity has had the most impact on me of anything else I have done recently.
What I was confronted with when filling out my card was that ten years from now I don’t want to be working for someone else’s company, far from it. I wanted to have made my friends rich.
This is an idea I ran across when talking with a colleague about the company Connectwise that, from my understanding, was founded, built and taken public in a thoughtful way that benefited customers, employees, and shareholders. The founder, Arnie Bellini, built a high quality business that is a net positive in the world and made his friends and early investors rich.
This struck me as the only point; why do anything else.
Starting and running my own business has been on my mind, but the activity in class put me in a perspective that to be there in ten years, it isn’t going to happen on its own. If I am serious about this I need to start taking steps or facing my life towards that goal.
This has caused me a great deal of cognitive dissonance. My excuse thus far has been that while I know a lot about how my company will run (what kind of culture we will have, some people who will work there), I don’t have an idea for what we will be doing or selling.
It seems that most people start with an idea, and I am starting with an index card of pretty general goals. The leap is that with these directions, the rest will follow.