God bless the not believers
They teach the dreamers how to fly
Love and hate fuel the fire inside their eyes
-Nikki Jean (Million Star Motel)
God bless the people who do not believe in you. Do not despise them. Without them, you will grow comfortable and lazy. With comfort comes defeat. Only a few people truly believe in Haus of Dinma, and what it represents. Some of the people closest to me, think I am wasting time, and should focus my efforts exclusively on the corporate world. I do not blame them. Sometimes, even I experience doubt, and falter. I started Haus of Dinma because I was fascinated by graphic design, but it was too late to go to design school. I say too late, because I already had an undergraduate degree in engineering and a career in progress. Going back to school to study design was an option, but it would have taken too much time and money. So I decided to get my hands on books and online tutorials, and study graphic design myself. So far so good.
In addition, I desperately needed to get business smart. Prior to starting Haus of Dinma, I was an engineer/operations person who did not know anything about business. I read “how I did it” stories on Inc.com and entrepreneur.com, but I quickly realized by the time those stories made the front page, that business opportunity was gone. There was little or nothing to learn from the article. What better way is there to learn about business, than to put your money and time on the line? Engineering taught me all the problems solving skills I use, but they often apply in ideal situations.The real world is messy, and full of exigent circumstances. Although having an MBA can be useful, I took enough business classes in college to assume An MBA will not teach me the things running my own business has taught me. Working for a large company will teach me a lot of skills, but will not let me react to, and change things as often as I need to, without requiring me to submit change requests to a higher authority for approval. There are times to wait, and there are times to seize the moment and execute with blinding speed.
My doubters dismiss what I do, they see it as only designing t-shirts. They ask seemingly innocuous questions like? Are you breaking even? Are you selling? Are you doing anything else? Sometimes I am frustrated with their thought process, regardless I hear them out, take what makes sense and disregard the rest. I do not take it personal. Okay, sometimes I do, but I do not despise them because I know they mean well. There is a legendary tale of the pitch Steve Jobs made to John Sculley, former CEO of Pepsi Co.
Steve Jobs successfully sealed the deal after he made his legendary pitch to John: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?
John Sculley was a guy who did all that had been asked of him, he went to the best schools. (Wharton MBA), boosted profits at Pepsi, and eventually rose to become President of Pepsi Co., and then Steve Jobs came along and dismissed what he was doing as selling sugared water.
From John Sculley’s example, you can deduce, the battle against being influenced by people who do not believe in what you are doing, will be an ongoing battle. However, you should not listen to them. If you do, they fill you with doubt. You will begin to see options where there are none, and you will become like them. Become like them in the sense that you will be run by fear. Fear in this case is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. In my experience, these people harbor dreams of entrepreneurship, but are too scared to actually try. They have excuses, they postpone taking risks, and criticize you for taking risks. Eventually, they reach a point where they have worked in the corporate world for so long, they begin to worship it. I visited a senior manager at a top firm last month. During our conversation, the person stated they were counting down to the day they retire, so they can live their lives. The person has ten years left. I thought it was sad for anyone to think like that. What if you die in the next five years, what if you suffer illness that progressively deteriorates your health? This person is postponing life and betting it on a future version of themself they hope will have more time and more resources, but in reality that future version will have less stamina, probably be physically weaker, and may not have the expected financial resources. I am not advocating putting your head in the sand like an ostrich and assuming there is no risk in chasing your dreams. There is a lot of risk. You should only attempt it, if you can bear the risk. Most of what the not- believers say is true. Startups fail. Startups are meant to fail. Even well funded ones like Fisker. The ones that make it, are the exceptions.
We all have lessons, that need to be learned. When it comes to business, I feel a self directed apprenticeship is best. With Haus of Dinma, I wear a lot of hats. I am forced to wear many hats by necessity, because I do not have the resources to constantly pay other people to do the work. I took photography classes, because I needed to take decent product photos for my online store. I learned how to build websites because I needed an e-commerce website. Now I tweak my websites in the middle of the night whenever I have an idea. The alternative would have been contacting a web developer every time I had an idea, and possibly being held hostage by their schedule. As you can see, I am reaping the benefits of investing the time in learning to learn code. The best thing about this entrepreneurship journey, is I am starting to see opportunity when others see schlep. I am developing a killer business instinct and the discipline to execute my vision. I’m still not listening to them.