I am getting increasingly intrigued by the Question of How Long does it take to create a meaningful business.

First and foremost, what does a 'meaningful business' mean?


Obviously different things for different folks:


- If I am a 35 year old dude working in some suffocating white collar job that pays me 15-30 lacs a year, and if I can do something 'on my own', that gives me the same money + no boss + unlimited freedom, it sounds 'meaningful'.


- For Start Up entrepreneurs just having graduated or completed their first job, any independent business that pays the bills and yet makes them an 'entrepreneur' with unlimited potential is 'meaningful'.


- For digital entrepreneurs like myself, having done this grind for many years with nothing really GRAND to show yet, a Billion $$$ Company is 'meaningful'.


You can interpret 'meaningful' using your personal achievement dictionary.


The question of this discussion is - how long does it take to make something meaningful happen?


In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about 10,000 hours as the dedicated effort required to master anything. (I didn't care about the book but really liked this point).


In my humble calculations, I have figured that it takes 10 SOLID years of tireless, unrelenting, punishing, and insane effort to create anything of meaning and substance.


Sure, a Twitter or Facebook or Zynga happen, but across businesses and vertical and considering the past and present of listed and successful Companies, 10 years is the MINIMUM waiting period.


This carries lots of implications:


- If your business is VC funded, will they accept a 10 year 'blossom' horizon? (Sumant Mandal - my investor from Clearstone Venture Partners told me recently that they believe it takes 10 years to create a great Company).


- If you are on your own, are you signing up for 10 years? You could be a service provider or a digital product creator - have you considered this length of time and effort dedication?


- Will you get distracted to take the EASY way out? See the new business busts and bubbles and in all of them you will notice this MAD hunger to grow dramatically and before time. The penalties of stumbling to these follies are horrific.


I have always maintained - If you want to grow a Rose Garden, have the time and dedication to do so, coz Rose Gardens don't grow in a hurry.


Do share your views and experiences...


THIS TAKES TIME!

Tags: $$, 10, Billion, Business, Clearstone, Company, Entrepreneurs, Facebook, Gardens, Gladwell, More…Malcolm, Mandal, Meaningful, Outliers, Rose, Sumant, Twitter, VC, Zynga, years

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Meaningful does not have to be as grand as one may think. In last 2.5 years I had opportunity to work with following set of people and all turned out to be meaningful companies for each of them.

1. A Genetic engineer looking to turn his 8+ years of research into a meaningful product which can help other athletes to understand their genes better and leverage that knowledge.

2. 3 38-39 year olds running a business on weekends and now competing with some of the most well funded companies and yet being profitable.

3. A 55+ year old developing a kick-ass financial service startup after flipping 2 companies earlier, not for need of money or fame, he has it plenty already, but he just cant see great problems being solved without his active participation.

My mentor likes to put meaningful is brief words like this - As long as you feel the urge to get out of bed at any hour and tend to your customers/users/team-members or something like that, you are doing something which is meaningful to *you*. And when most of the people in your company feel that urge, you have built a great company which is meaningful to lot of people.
WOW!!



Sushrut Bidwai said:
Meaningful does not have to be as grand as one may think. In last 2.5 years I had opportunity to work with following set of people and all turned out to be meaningful companies for each of them.

1. A Genetic engineer looking to turn his 8+ years of research into a meaningful product which can help other athletes to understand their genes better and leverage that knowledge.

2. 3 38-39 year olds running a business on weekends and now competing with some of the most well funded companies and yet being profitable.

3. A 55+ year old developing a kick-ass financial service startup after flipping 2 companies earlier, not for need of money or fame, he has it plenty already, but he just cant see great problems being solved without his active participation.

My mentor likes to put meaningful is brief words like this - As long as you feel the urge to get out of bed at any hour and tend to your customers/users/team-members or something like that, you are doing something which is meaningful to *you*. And when most of the people in your company feel that urge, you have built a great company which is meaningful to lot of people.
I have spent a good 5 years working with founders on their startups. And recently gone independent. My take comes from what I saw in the startups I worked for and what the founders taught me.

My founder always said that it takes 5 years to make something of 'value'. As alok already point out, value is subjective.

But I guess following 5 year cycle applies to all:

Year 1: Figure out what business you are in.

Year 2-3: Build a meaningful product that can not be replicated over night.

Year 4-5:Sell aggressively. Build market position.

After that I guess it is a question of reaching a value that you are satisfied with. So yeah for a billion dollars 10 years seems reasonable.

Anuj
I believe that business becomes meaningful when:
1. Your customer thanks you for solving his/her problem or making him/her happy ( entertainment business)
2. Your employee is driven to serve customers

and the outcome of above includes monetary benefits that improves the lifestyle of all who are a part of the enterprise.
5 years and 7 months till date and a looong way to go.
well,it took me almost 6 years for building 'value' business and may be yes 10 years could be average period......but,then question arises as how many value businesses one can build in his/her 'enterprising life' ?and how people who have built multi businesses done it? And which is better 'focussed' approach or a 'diversified' one? Some light is expected from you guys on this.
I am a 26 yr old working since last 2 year with IT giant, i had an option to study in USA further but I realised
India has so much to offer especially if you want to bcome an entrepreneur.
At this point of time if i start my own I would really not care about how much VALUE i can create
i would be bothered more about how much PROFIT(financial) i can make IFF i can make profit or not?
Value bcomes secondary, but yes value would bee interlinked to PROFIT, but at this point of time
i would only focus on my profit and would that profit bee enuf to keep my wheels rolling?
Second challenge I face is I am not ready to accept that only few like FB or Zynga can exist,
I think ther are millions of Zuckerbeerg or Dhirubhais
there might be hundred more dhirubhais ard you but what doesnt make them as Reliance or dhirubai?
I think its just the materialistic gains and the level of satisfaction which stops them from putting a bit extra
which dhirubhai did and others are not willing to do..
I feel if Zuckerberg can do FB and can donnate 100 Million dollars at my age , whats wrong with me? there should
not be any deterrent? ppl might say its luck, accidental, destiny etc..but I dont know why I cant absorb such words
and I fail to understand that as always....
1 day....!! It could just take an entire 24 hours for the world to experience and decide the fate of your product!! Today's products are not created around how meaningful it is for an entrepreneur, it is created around how meaningful the product is for the end user!!

Groupon is getting valued at $6Billion, when it is just completing its 2nd Anniversary. What better an example do we need!!
Bharat,

We have to take all the 10000 businesses that get created with ever Groupon.

Thats why I wrote that FB, Twitter etc aside...

Say you start a business and it does not behave like Groupon - will you abandon it immediately??



Bharat said:
1 day....!! It could just take an entire 24 hours for the world to experience and decide the fate of your product!! Today's products are not created around how meaningful it is for an entrepreneur, it is created around how meaningful the product is for the end user!!

Groupon is getting valued at $6Billion, when it is just completing its 2nd Anniversary. What better an example do we need!!
A Yes and a No. I am going to focus on the web part of it here and my 24hrs is certainly an exaggeration!!

Yes, if I realize that the website I have created is not in a position to attract and give value to the customer, maybe I will have to abandon it sooner than later.
No, because some things genuinely take time. The site could be a one that needs a large userbase to start making some sense!!

Alok, the web is beautiful and ugly at the same time. It makes you excited one day and disappoint you another day. Myspace and Yahoo had beautiful days once upon a time which are no longer so for them!!

I say make the most of the shortest time and move on!! Either win or lose!!



Alok 'Rodinhood' Kejriwal said:
Bharat,

We have to take all the 10000 businesses that get created with ever Groupon.

Thats why I wrote that FB, Twitter etc aside...

Say you start a business and it does not behave like Groupon - will you abandon it immediately??



Bharat said:
1 day....!! It could just take an entire 24 hours for the world to experience and decide the fate of your product!! Today's products are not created around how meaningful it is for an entrepreneur, it is created around how meaningful the product is for the end user!!

Groupon is getting valued at $6Billion, when it is just completing its 2nd Anniversary. What better an example do we need!!
Yahoo and MySpace lost because they just couldn't keep innovating. And please they have not yet lost, they still mint money big time. They went into comfort zone thinking they have won and never realized that getting territory is a start, keeping it is more important and much more difficult. If your product is not getting traction, you dont hang up, you transform, mutate or do what ever it takes to win. Groupon started as a blog, saw amazing traction and went on to become a big successful and meaningful venture to its users, advertisers and its own team. Zappos is good a example (Delivering Happiness is an extremely nice read), on how to achieve over night success after 8-10 years of hardship.


Bharat said:
A Yes and a No. I am going to focus on the web part of it here and my 24hrs is certainly an exaggeration!!

Yes, if I realize that the website I have created is not in a position to attract and give value to the customer, maybe I will have to abandon it sooner than later.
No, because some things genuinely take time. The site could be a one that needs a large userbase to start making some sense!!

Alok, the web is beautiful and ugly at the same time. It makes you excited one day and disappoint you another day. Myspace and Yahoo had beautiful days once upon a time which are no longer so for them!!

I say make the most of the shortest time and move on!! Either win or lose!!



Alok 'Rodinhood' Kejriwal said:
Bharat,

We have to take all the 10000 businesses that get created with ever Groupon.

Thats why I wrote that FB, Twitter etc aside...

Say you start a business and it does not behave like Groupon - will you abandon it immediately??



Bharat said:
1 day....!! It could just take an entire 24 hours for the world to experience and decide the fate of your product!! Today's products are not created around how meaningful it is for an entrepreneur, it is created around how meaningful the product is for the end user!!

Groupon is getting valued at $6Billion, when it is just completing its 2nd Anniversary. What better an example do we need!!
For a start "over night success after 8-10 years of hardship" is an oxymoron!!

I have never said they have lost, but as pointed out failing to innovate is failing!! Is it not why MS was criticized for a long time? Glad they brought out Bing, Zune, W7 and now Kinect over time and are able to stand ground!! Making a lot of money is different from making the same money!!

The tastes and choices of the customer are changing at breadth taking speed and if we cant keep up, its retirement time. And I strictly believe anything on the web doesnt need a lot of grooming to make a point!!

When the basics of the product are changed, it is no longer the same product.




Sushrut Bidwai said:
Yahoo and MySpace lost because they just couldn't keep innovating. And please they have not yet lost, they still mint money big time. They went into comfort zone thinking they have won and never realized that getting territory is a start, keeping it is more important and much more difficult. If your product is not getting traction, you dont hang up, you transform, mutate or do what ever it takes to win. Groupon started as a blog, saw amazing traction and went on to become a big successful and meaningful venture to its users, advertisers and its own team. Zappos is good a example (Delivering Happiness is an extremely nice read), on how to achieve over night success after 8-10 years of hardship.


Bharat said:
A Yes and a No. I am going to focus on the web part of it here and my 24hrs is certainly an exaggeration!!

Yes, if I realize that the website I have created is not in a position to attract and give value to the customer, maybe I will have to abandon it sooner than later.
No, because some things genuinely take time. The site could be a one that needs a large userbase to start making some sense!!

Alok, the web is beautiful and ugly at the same time. It makes you excited one day and disappoint you another day. Myspace and Yahoo had beautiful days once upon a time which are no longer so for them!!

I say make the most of the shortest time and move on!! Either win or lose!!



Alok 'Rodinhood' Kejriwal said:
Bharat,

We have to take all the 10000 businesses that get created with ever Groupon.

Thats why I wrote that FB, Twitter etc aside...

Say you start a business and it does not behave like Groupon - will you abandon it immediately??



Bharat said:
1 day....!! It could just take an entire 24 hours for the world to experience and decide the fate of your product!! Today's products are not created around how meaningful it is for an entrepreneur, it is created around how meaningful the product is for the end user!!

Groupon is getting valued at $6Billion, when it is just completing its 2nd Anniversary. What better an example do we need!!

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