I’m often asked by aspiring entrepreneurs, “how do I start a company?”
From starting a company to writing a story, all creative projects begin in the same way.
Turn on your computer. Open your favorite word processor — Word, Google Docs, whatever. Create a folder with your new project name. Inside that folder create a new doc. Call it ‘brainstorm’ for now. Hit save.
Voila! You’ve now joined the 1% of people that have started something.
Maybe you have a vision for a product. Maybe you understand a problem, but haven’t figured out a product to solve that problem. Maybe you’ve got a concept for a character, but don’t have a plot. Every artist starts with a different set of tools, or ideas. But we all have something in common. We all need to start. Take out a pen, a computer — whatever your creative medium is (no pun intended)— and let loose. There are no rules. Don’t get caught up in the details like naming files, formatting documents, or process. Get everything you can out of your head and onto paper — fast.
After your creative catharsis, some primitive structure will emerge. However hazy, a next step or maybe even a few will become apparent. Maybe it’s researching a market’s size, or finding a good piece of software to write your movie script. Pick a next step and keep going. Lather, rinse, repeat. Open your project folder every day. Some days you’ll be prolific. Other days, you’ll struggle to edit a sentence. Fight for your project. Embrace the discomfort and fear as part of the process. Your creative muse will find you.
Most projects die before they’re born. We hold off. Waiting for the perfect situation to unfold, we miss out on the great adventure that is crafting the known from the unknown. There is no right way to approach building a new project. Creation is by it’s very nature, imperfect. But there most certainly is a wrong way. Do nothing.
Every great maker has three things in common. They start. They finish. They start again. Sometimes finishing a project means failing. Maybe your business goes bankrupt, or you can’t get your art sold, or maybe you just write a really terrible story. It happens. And chances are, it’ll happen again. Great artists don’t always produce great art. But failing doesn’t mean you’re finished. It just means that your project is finished.
You are not your project. You’re a maker. So on to the next project. And the good news is that you already know how to start.
Google began with a single line of code. The great wall of China began with single brick. The Universe began as a single point in time. Everything great starts small — maybe as small as single folder with a single file.