Early in my career when I was just getting started, people would occasionally ask how things were going and the answer was always the same; ‘I’m living the dream’. It was obvious to anyone looking that I wasn’t, and it was pure hyperbole for me to suggest otherwise. However, for budding entrepreneurs and even seasoned business people, the challenge remains to find a way to live our dreams while somehow making them pay. The real winners don’t do it for the money,they do it because of the idea.
I was reminded of this a few days ago as I was in Vegas, about to watch a show at Caesar’s Palace headlined by a fellow Brit, Mr. Matt Goss. For those of you that don’t know, Matt has a twin brother, Luke Goss (now a Hollywood actor, think ‘Interview with a Hitman’) and together, almost 30 years ago they formed a band by the name of ‘Bros’. It was 1987 and their first single (I Owe You Nothing) tanked, reaching only number 80 on the UK pop music charts. He was 19 years old at the time.
This is the point at which so many entrepreneurs experience the same question, the same whispering voice in the back of their mind… Do I continue, or did I get it all wrong and go down a path that success doesn’t exist on.
After all the hard work, all the planning, launching, advertising and money, it looks as though you may have just made the biggest mistake of your life.
Bros as it happens didn’t quit. They stuck with it and released their second single, a couple months later. It was a catchy, 80’s pop anthem called ‘When Will I Be Famous’. As it turns out, the answer to that question apparently, was pretty much instantly.
The song crushed it not only in the UK, but across Europe and beyond. They became a household name overnight (much harder to do without Facebook, Instagram or the Internet!), and when their album was finally released, it went Platinum multiple times over both at home and abroad.
When they released tickets for their first tour, they sold out in minutes, and even today, Bros are still the youngest ever band to fill Wembley Stadium, the largest event stadium in the UK that seated around 70-something thousand at the time.
The point of this post however, isn’t to focus on that song but rather the first, remember, the one that tanked and was called ‘I Owe You Nothing’. Like Jobs with Apple, and so many other budding enterprises before, sometimes people just aren’t ready for something, especially when that something is blazing it’s own, unique trail. Eventually however, they realize they are.
Bros re-released the same song to the same audience a year or so later and you can probably guess what happened. Not only did it hit the number 1 spot in the UK, it went number 1 in countries all over the world and cemented their position as a credible act.
Just imagine if they’d quit the first time round. Imagine if Airbnb quit when they were struggling to make a couple hundred bucks a month. Commitment doesn’t mean sticking with something when the going is easy, but rather finding a way to make something work when the going gets tough. True entrepreneurs believe in their ideas so strongly they’d never contemplate quitting, because they’re convinced that what they’re doing is game changing. If you don’t believe that’s the case, then maybe you should quit. If you do believe, then stick with it, believe in your dream, surround yourself with people that will encourage you and help you get there and most importantly, find a way to make it happen.
P.S. His Vegas show was pretty awesome, very ‘Vegas’ and definitely worth checking out next time you’re at Caesar’s Palace!