My colleague from TripAdvisor asked me to speak on my experience as a travel entrepreneur to his final year class that were concentrating on travel and ecommerce.
During my speech I dove a lot into the commercials of meta-search, history of our pivot and the basic startup journey. At the end i pointed out to three things that I learned along the way:
1. Success is Passion - much inspired by WSJ's article with Scott Adams (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304626104579121813075903866) on passion, i decided to interpret this my own way.
A lot of people will tell that whatever you do, make sure you're pursuing your passion - it will help you in the long run. And logically this makes sense - entrepreneurship is a bitch - long hours, no money, tonnes of anxiety and psychological pressure that sometimes can't even be justified. Entrepreneurship gets harder the further you are from home as you no longer have a support infrastructure and as you have more dependents on your income - you might not want to put your kids' education at stake here... Regardless if you have passion for what you're doing you should persevere and endure all of those entrepreneurial hardships.
I think that's a load of shit.
Having a passion and pursuing it blindly as a business can be like being in an abusive relationship. In both cases, you delude yourself into thinking that it will work out if you keep working hard at it. You think it will get better if you try harder and you will ignore the obvious metrics (like a fist to the face) that tell you your passion, or business is not working. But you keep going back to that passion and putting resources into it even though it's dead end. When you have emotion in business, it can be a powerful incentive but also a dangerous delusion - sometimes don't see straight and might lead you to lose more than you were anticipating.
Who really truly understands their passion anyways? Yes, i see a bunch of people that have found their passion, but they keep it in hobby form. My passion is to not work, play video games and snowboard all day. Do I want that for a job? No way, I would hate my life if I got paid to do my hobbies because they would then turn into jobs.
So what motivates me? What's my passion? Well, actually, my passion is success. Being successful, being able to use my success to support my family, put my kids through school, helping my family whenever it is needed - I can only achieve this if I am successful. I seek success, not passion. I seek having the option to have unlimited options on which life to live. Once success starts coming, you will see that you will start loving it and it will turn into your passion!
2. Everyone think your idea is stupid - so share it because no one will steal it! I whole-heartedly believe this. If you have an idea, start discussing it with others. Strangers, friends, family. The more input you have from people, the easier it will be to execute. Especially talk to strangers since they are not within your current social circles which sometimes can delude you into thinking that your idea is good when it actually is not.
But what happens if someone steal your idea?
Well, let's face it, an idea is worthless unless it is actually executed on. There are two types of people on this earth - people that can form ideas but won't execute on them and people that can form ideas and execute on them. The latter person is rare. More importantly, if you meet someone that can execute on your idea, it is likely that they are too busy executing their own ideas. So don't worry! Talk to everyone, especially people not in your social circles and re-iterate and refine your idea, but more importantly - execute on it!
3. Break Rules - If you're not breaking them, you're not creating change.
Spotify, iTunes, Netflix - These were some crazy ideas, some of these guys didn't even have licenses to sell the material in their inventories. If for some reason you are held up by licensing or legal issues, you're over-thinking it, especially if you're a startup. No one cares about you so just do it, break the rule. If it actually works and it things are good, you'll be surprised how many people will come on board if you're disrupting something!