What is an idea worth?
What is the value of consulting services?
If you say nothing and everything – you’d be exactly right.
One of Paul Graham’s startup essays explains the difference:
Suppose YouTube’s founders had gone to Google in 2005 and told them “Google Video is badly designed. Give us $10 million and we’ll tell you all the mistakes you made.” They would have gotten the royal raspberry. Eighteen months later Google paid $1.6 billion for the same lesson, partly because they could then tell themselves that they were buying a phenomenon, or a community, or some vague thing like that.
The significance here is that they went and created and shipped and evangelised the idea.
On the other hand, had Google had their finger close enough on the pulse, they could have made that acquisition many months earlier for a tiny fraction of the valuation.
Or had Google put the right people on their project – Google Video – they could have stolen YouTube’s fire before it lit.
Unfortunately normally we don’t know the failures, only the success stories. Kiko, the eBay auctioned calendar software, lost to Google Calendar (a fine invention and one you should try if you haven’t used it before – we run our entire office schedule on it, and it’s a huge improvement over maintaining phpCalendar ourselves or trying to WebDav sync iCal).
So does one aim to be the ones advising Google for a few hundred k/per year – the dilemma with consulting services, is that it’s still your life against the clock, whatever the payoff. Effectually, you are a mercenary. When you tire of fighting the Punic wars, you go home and all you take is what you can carry away on your back and your armour.
Obviously startups are the way to go. But it’s damn hard work.
Creating a startup is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and it’s cost me dearly.
Am I ready to give up?
When trying to pick what idea to go after, Paul Graham writes:
It seems like the best problems to solve are ones that affect you personally. Apple happened because Steve Wozniak wanted a computer, Google because Larry and Sergey couldn’t find stuff online, Hotmail because Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith couldn’t exchange email at work.
I agree wholeheartedly with that. The issue which I am trying to solve is one which causes me stress everyday.