The Hardest Thing Is Just to Start
The following is a guest commentary for CNBC.com.
Shortly after the Icelandic economy crashed in 2008, we founded our first company. Call us crazy, but in the midst of thousands losing their jobs and the first en masse public protest against the government since Iceland's induction into NATO in 1949, we decided to start a board game company.
What the heck, being unemployed, recently graduated from university and still living at our parent's house, what was there to lose?
It was a blast. Our first ever product, a board game centered around improvising and selling lies to your immediate family and friends, was sold out that Christmas within five days. We were so high on life that we immediately knew we wanted to do it again, and we knew we wanted to meet other entrepreneurs who had taken the leap, and perhaps even show people who were unable to find themselves in the nine-to-five working world ways to experience that same thrill.
The Startup Kids was born, a documentary exploring the highs and lows of being a tech entrepreneur today. Armed with a video camera and small EU grant, we decided to travel to North America and Europe to ask the big question: What does it take to become a successful entrepreneur?
We met young people starting out for the first time in their bedroom at their parents' house, successful entrepreneurs sitting behind a desk in an office with a view of the San Francisco skyline, investors who talked about what they saw as next on the horizon for savvy 'angel investors' to put their money into, and high school juniors who described sleepless nights hunched over what they hoped to be 'the next big thing.'
One thing was clear; a whole lot of people were infected with the entrepreneur bug. To quote one veteran of the tech trenches: "Entrepreneurship is the new smoking."
We are now in an age where technology has become an integral part of our daily life. A cloud is not only the white thing in the sky, but the place we use to store our family albums; our mothers stay awake into the early hours to attend to their digitally rendered farms; we virtually poke someone we like instead of calling them; and an event can almost be said to have not taken place if there isn't a picture from it on Instagram or Facebook.
All these web products we use every day started out as an idea in someone's head. Actually it probably started out as an idea in lots of people's heads, but there is a big difference between having a new idea and having a new product. That difference is the entrepreneur.
Around 6.8 million new businesses were started in the United States in 2010, a rate that represents the highest level of growth in entrepreneurship over the past decade and a half. Of those millions, a tiny fraction of a fraction will make it big. Others will fizzle out, perhaps to give up but more often than not to try again.
Making The Startup Kids documentary we wanted to get to know the people behind these new web and tech products. What drives them? What can we learn from their example? In essence, what does it take to make it big as an entrepreneur in today's online world?
After interviewing more than 80 entrepreneurs we have come to learn that they are the most stubborn and hard working creatures in the world. And they all agree on one thing; there is never the wrong time to startup your first company, just the right time. Even if your country is in the middle of the most drastic economic collapse it has known, even if you are still in school, if you're too young, too old, too something, the hardest thing is just to start.