We talk a lot here at MYOB about our admiration for those who have the courage and passion to leave secure day jobs as employees to turn their hand at starting their own business. We love hearing stories of those who have the ‘get up and go’ to have a go.
Interestingly, I’ve always been of the belief that jumping off that cliff into a world where a salary isn’t guaranteed and the hours are long is the most daunting part of starting your own business. It never occurred to me that sharing your idea – or on a grander scale, sharing your dream – is pretty terrifying as well.
We were proud to host the Auckland leg of Startup Weekend at our office over the weekend. It’s an incredibly motivating and inspirational event, based around the concept of bringing together developers, designers, marketers, product managers and startup enthusiasts to share ideas, form teams, build products, and most importantly – launch startups! All in 54 hours across the one weekend, under the guiding eye of group of experienced business mentors. Originating in the US in 2007, it’s now a worldwide network of over 25,000 alumni, spread across 100 cities in 30 countries.
Kicking off with a pizza and drinks on Friday night, aspiring entrepreneurs took turns pitching their great ideas to the crowd, in the aim of being one of the shortlisted concepts chosen to get the full treatment over the weekend.
People lined up. They waited their turn. And then had just 60 seconds to sell their idea to the room.
As I watched pitch after pitch I realized that this was a Really Big Deal. They weren’t just selling an idea. They were selling their dream. They were selling themselves – even though for many, they would rather stick needles in their eyes than speak in public – the passion for their idea was so big, they felt the fear and pitched their dream.
It got me thinking, how many people have the guts to stand up and tell the world that they have a great idea? And in that moment on Friday night, I really understood the level of passion and that drives small business owners.
I left Startup Weekend with renewed enthusiasm. The teams achieved some incredible results in just the one weekend – many of which are ready to go to market. Imagine what would have happened if they had sat in their chair and kept their idea to themselves for fear ‘of looking stupid’?!
If I learnt one thing from Startup Weekend, it was that ‘the fear’ shouldn’t hold us back. Everyone can benefit from collaboration, and constructive feedback is never a bad thing. It’s not about the idea, it’s about the passion and enthusiasm you put behind it to make it grow. And the people that you enlist to help you!
Startup Weekend is also happening in Australia, with events scheduled in Perth, Sydney in Melbourne… I for one will be spreading the word!