Why stand when you could wear kneepads?
Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
RIP Biggie… those are probably some of the wisest words ever said on life and business.
The funny thing about starting a business or making more money is, to me, this notion we get in our heads of “if only”.
“If only I could make X, I’d be happy.”
“If only I could save Y, my worries would disappear.”
As if there’s some invisible line you cross when you hit a goal, where, upon crossing said line, all your problems simply disappear. LULZ.
I’m about to break some hearts here, but it’s reality check time:
Problems never go away. They evolve.
Just like Biggie said… the more money you make, the more problems you have. And they’ll be different problems from the ones you had when you were broke and struggling. But they’ll be there, I guaran-damn-tee it.
But there’s good news… and that is, for every problem you face there are hundreds of potential solutions.
And that’s why you’ll usually find me off in the corner chuckling whenever I see two people up in arms about the “right” way to do something.
There’s not really a “right” way. All 100+ solutions could theoretically work. None of them could work. Then again, maybe only a handful would work. Or one could work REALLY well and the rest just kinda meh.
It’s pretty funny to me that so many good products and projects experience delays (or get killed entirely) due to endless infighting about the “best” way to do things.
I mean… there’s no real way to tell what works without 1) testing and 2) hindsight (or maybe foresight/seeing into the future??), so wasting time arguing is pretty much pointless in most situations. I’m a big fan of “pick one and see what happens” as a problem-solving method.
Of course like every rule, there are exceptions. Take this story from Entrepreneur.com, for example.
For you TL;DR folks, here’s a quick and dirty version:
It’s an article about Jeff Bezos and the early days of Amazon. At the time, he had a small but scrappy team of 10, packaging and shipping books to all 50 states. After packing boxes all day long, many of them would be in searing pain at the end of the day.
The reason? They were boxing up books on hands and knees… on the floor.
The team quickly realized pain is not exactly conducive to productivity.
So Jeff came up with a brilliant solution: kneepads.
Thankfully one of his teammates thoughtfully suggested they go with a packing table instead.
See what I mean?
Both are viable solutions to a problem.
My knees hurt… kneepads will help!
My knees hurt… if I stand up instead of kneeling, that will help!
Needless to say, they went with packing tables. That’s the solution that went one step deeper, to the REAL root of the problem… crouching on the floor to do the work.
It could have easily gone the other way though, with infighting and power plays and folks making 22-page powerpoint presentations on why their solution was the winner.
And lest you judge Jeff Bezos for such a seemingly stupid/oblivious suggestion… I totally get where he’s coming from in this story.
My boyfriend is the brilliant teammate to my flighty founder/Jeff Bezos.
Andrew’s an engineer and works on aerospace stuff. He’s always finding little efficiencies and technical solutions – that’s just how his mind works.
My mind? I just want a damn solution. The first one that pops up will work just fine, thankyouverymuch.
Sometimes my “ready, fire, aim” approach causes friction… like the time he wondered out loud why I was carefully measuring out 6 tablespoonfuls of coffee for the coffee pot.
Him: you know you could just use this bigger scoop instead of counting out all those little ones, right?
Me: I don’t know the proportions for that scoop. I know them for this one. So now it’s just what I do so I get a consistent cup of coffee. I dunno, man…
Him: with this one, you only have to use two scoops. Then you don’t have to bitch about losing count anymore… like you just did.
So I did what I do and completely ignored his totally logical solution… until a few weeks later when I lost count yet again and wound up with the kind of coffee that could fuel a rocket into space.
The next day, I switched to the big scoop. And what do you know… no more losing count, and much more consistent coffee!
Sometimes we find a solution and it works…
And then it blinds us to other options that might just be more productive, more effective, or more efficient.
The point I’m trying to make in all this is…
Don’t fall in love and get married to the idea.
Date the idea. Try it out for a little while to see how well it works. Don’t be afraid to date more than one idea at once and see which one works best.
Your future self will thank you for it, I promise.
If you’re an aspiring freelancer who’s working up the courage to leave the day job… good news! I’m sharing all the things I WISH I’d known before making the leap so that hopefully your journey goes a little more smoothly than mine.