My blog gets more than 100,000 new visitors a month. More than 5,000 students have enrolled in my training program and the number is only getting bigger by the day. I have a team of around 15 people in my startup now. We work out of a cozy office in Bangalore. And the future looks better than ever. The growth is exciting. It has taken a long time for me to reach this stage.
If I had a chance to look at myself in the present situation 5 years back, I wouldn’t have believed it. Just like it is hard for me now to believe that I might run a company with 1000+ employees 10 years later. The future is not certain. It is hard to predict where you will be 5 years, 10 years and 20 years down the line. But you don’t need that clarity when you are starting. In fact, you should be ok with that uncertainty.
Right now, what I do is in my comfort zone and I am slowly pushing the boundaries as I grow along with my company. It is a slow process and it is difficult to see visible change happening over a long period of time.
Just like a tree that is growing doesn’t show any change in the short term, your career will feel like it is not making much progress in the short term. Your career is determined by what you have been doing every day for the past 10 years than what you have been doing for the past week. It is the habits and the daily routine that builds your career. Slowly, like a tree.
Let’s have a look at how long it has taken for me to reach this stage. My blog DigitalDeepak.com, the cornerstone of my business was started in 2013. Until 2016, the blog did not make any revenue. I was not working too much on my blog either. If I look at my archives, I have posted around 2-3 blog posts a month, but I have done it for the past 7 years consistently. Having started early has helped me grow the blog and the business around the blog to this point where I am today.
If you haven’t started anything yet, you can’t do anything about the past. You can’t go back in time and start a business 10 years back. But you can start today. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years back. The next best time is today. And just like a tree takes time to grow, a business and a career take time. Decades if not years. But it is worth investing your time and energy on that. What else will you do?
Starting today doesn’t mean that you have to leave everything and just focus on growing a startup full time. You can start with a business plan. Maybe a Facebook Group. Maybe a blog. Maybe a newsletter. When you start something, it gains some momentum. When it gains momentum, it is very enticing to add some more work to it and give it more momentum. And it becomes easier over time.
I might not have been motivated enough to write such a post 5 years back unless I had 1000s of readers who love to read my blog posts. But today I can invest my time in it because I have hundreds and thousands of readers. Momentum. What you need to focus on is momentum. Not speed.
Thinking about the future will only make you anxious. It is ok to dream big, but it is also important not to get caught up in the possible details of the future. A lot of things in the future will look impossible now but as the future unfolds you will get adjusted to a new reality. Your capabilities will grow beyond your imagination right now. At that time, it will be normal. It will be your minimum standard.
If you start early enough, if you start today, 10 years down the line you will have a business that creates value for its customers, provides work opportunities for employees and vendors and creates massive good wealth for yourself. You would have done something significant with your life.
You don’t need to do everything today, or even this week or the month. You just need to start today. The power of initiative is not too hard to tap into. You just need to stop listening to the voice inside you that tries to come up with a reason for you not to start today.
Steven Pressfield in his book “The War of Art” talks about something called resistance. The resistance prevents you from moving ahead because it comes from the lizard brain. The lizard brain only cares about short term survival and doesn’t care about your long-term needs. It is constantly preventing you from doing creative work.
These are the kind of things that the resistance tells you in the form of a voice in your head:
- “I need more preparation and learning before I begin.”
- “I don’t think there is enough opportunity”
- “There is too much competition”
- “I am not good enough for this kind of work”
- “I am too tired today, I will do it tomorrow”
- “I need to complete the other work that I started before starting new things”
So whenever you think of something, just get started. It could be something as simple as tweeting about an idea. And then it takes a momentum of its own and adding more things on top of it becomes easier with time.
You build things in your business and career one on top of the other. Once you get started with something, you will have a platform to build things upon. No one can plan to create a billion-dollar business and then follow the plan exactly as planned. Careers and startups have a lot of chaos around it because too many variables are involved like changing market conditions, competition, disruption by technology, and so on.
Just get started, and trust me, everything else will fall into place.
The secret to success is not hard work. It’s not luck. It’s not who you know. It’s not getting funded. It’s not about finding the right team members. And it’s not about the right idea. All these things will fall into place. But only if you get started.
So start something. Start today.