Entrepreneur thoughts – Albom Column

It’s been a long time since my last post.  It’s funny, right about the time I want to start posting every day, I end up not posting for over two months.  I started my third Java class and transferred over to a new position at work as a developer so needless to say, it has been a busy Fall.

Mitch Albom inspired me to write today.  His column today about fame was excellent and it pertains to business and entrepreneurship as well.  The best part of the column is when he states “Didn’t you once have to DO something to become famous? Now being famous IS doing something. The most important currency in this country is not measured on green paper. It’s measured by how many people point at you and say, “Aren’t you …?””

To me this is almost the same thing as Twitter and Facebook and their ilk being considered businesses.  The comment could easily be re-written to say: “Didn’t you once have to make money to be considered a business?  Now having “customers” is being in business.  The most important currency in this country is not measured on gree paper.  It’s measured by how many people point at your website and say, “I’m with them…””

The whole premise of their business is to attract more customers.  Just like Albom’s column where the whole premise of Fame is to be seen by people, not necessarily to have any talent, skill, or other exceptional quality.  They don’t make money (enough to justify their valuations), nor do they have any concrete plans to make money.  Yet the fact that they have tons of users makes them “Famous”, which in this sense means that they are great businesses which attract millions of dollars in investments.

At the core of these businesses is a single person that was in possession of one key element: TIME.  Evan Williams sold Pyra Labs (Blogger) to Google for enough money to buy him all the time in the world.  With that time he created Twitter.  Mark Zuckerberg was a student at Harvard when he created Facebook, with enough free time on his hands to create a cool app for his friends to stay in touch with one another.  In both of these cases, and many others, the founder was wealthy with either time, or enough money to buy time.  Take a look at the stories in Inc. magazine once.  Most of the founder stories are about people that were successful before they were successful.

Back to the Albom point: With time, and in most cases money, the business doesn’t need to make money.  The founder is just fine with banging away on it until something better comes along or until enough people find his cool time-killer.  This is a sobering fact for a lot of us wanna-be entrepreneurs with day jobs and families.  Time is something we don’t have.

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