Similar Obstacles

Back when I was planning Mirror Lake, a laundry startup, I was frequently advised by a friend to talk to his friend that used to operate a laundry. Every time my friend would bring it up, I’d casually dismiss the need for it. In my mind, my idea was totally different. And it was.

Eventually I caved in — not so much convinced by the need to talk to my friend’s friend, but just to get my friend to stop suggesting it.

During our phone call with my friend’s friend, he warned me about multiple issues that he believes I’d most likely face. I listened intently, while the other voice in my head was being dismissive. By the time we were done with the phone call, it felt as if my friend’s friend was implicitly suggesting that starting a laundry business isn’t a great idea.

I dismissed it. In fact I dismissed pretty much everything that this guy told me on the phone call. I proceeded as if I hadn’t heard a thing.

Several months later, and after launching my laundry startup, on a random day it all hit me: I’m facing pretty much every single ‘challenge’ that that guy had warned me of. Was I that ignorant?

Yes. Yes I was.

Looking back at it several years later, it all makes sense now. Yes I had an original twist on the laundry sector in Kuwait, but at the end of the day my core activity was washing clothes. Just like every other laundry that has preceded Mirror Lake and every laundry that came after.

You might be working on an original idea yourself. And that’s great. But understand this: innovative ideas are twists on existing ideas. Your idea will most likely share many aspects with other ideas. In my case, I was still washing clothes. The business had employees. The business required a brick and mortar shop to run operations.

You should heed the advice of entrepreneurs that have been through a similar path even if your idea is completely original. If it’s an app, then you’ll probably face similar challenges that every app-based business does. If it’s a service-based business, then you’ll probably benefit from learning from existing service-based businesses.

Humble yourself. Don’t be ignorant like I was.

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