As my family went out blackberry picking the other night (the wild kind, not BBRY kind), I found myself comparing it to the process of running a startup.
Here, in short form, is how they compare in my mind:
1. Both require action. By that I mean you have to get out the buckets, find the blackberries and venture into the thicket of very thorny plants to get at the fruit. For startups, you get an idea, you do research, get out and talk to people, ask silly questions, and push hard. In short, get off your duff and do something.
2. It’s hard, painful work, but so worth it. I’ve gotten poked, scraped, jabbed, pinpricked and just plain punctured by blackberry thorns. So why do it? Because when you rinse those sweet, lusty, redolent wild berries in cold water, the taste of the jam on fresh bread is easy to imagine. In other words, you enjoy the fruit at the end of the process. Same with startups. Lots of pokes, jabs and hurt, even from friends and family. It’s painful, and if you can stand the pain, you’ll be able to keep moving.
3. It’s all practice, very little theory. You might take a few minutes to hunt down the best spot to start, but at some point you have to step up and reach for the enticing, juicy, dark cluster that looks so promising – literally the low hanging fruit. You get the idea – just do it.
4. It’s dirty and messy, turns your hands purple and sticky with juice. Building something of value is dirty and messy. In the end you hope it will be tasty and smell wonderful, but it takes time, patience, persistence and pain to get there.
5. Your hard work and efforts pay off. With berries, you get to eat that scrumptious jam or an aromatic slice of pie still warm from the oven piled with creamy vanilla ice cream. With startups, if you can endure the pain, the messiness and sweat it takes, there’s a payoff as well. Nothing is guaranteed, and maybe that’s where the analogy ends, but there is always a chance you’ll pick the right fruit at the right time, and it all falls into place – or the bucket.