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If not you, then who? If not now, then when?

Tue, 21 October 2014

Contributed by Michael Corrigan, co-founder of trtl
Why is it important for entrepreneurs to provide innovative solutions to the world’s big challenges? When looking at the world around us, there are many challenges facing us over the coming decades and centuries. There are the issues of global warming (be it caused by humans or not) as well as overpopulation, which raise challenges such as moving to a green economy in addition to understanding how we will cope with trying to feed 10 billion people by 2050 – can the world sustain this when our resources are already being stretched? 
There are already entrepreneurs out there who are leading by example and making progress in solving these problems. Elon Musk, a co-founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors (and PayPal) is one of these. With both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, he is making a direct impact on some of the world’s biggest challenges. He’s also known as someone who works up to 100 hours in a week; he is extremely driven to achieve his goals.  
So you have to ask yourself, how can he do this? Is he driven by money? Maybe, but it doesn’t seem like he would have much time to spend it. Maybe he is driven by fame? Only he will know but I believe it’s highly unlikely that you would be successful and truly make a positive impact on the world if this were purely the case. It would be very difficult to sustain the passion and energy required to create a great, lasting company which could achieve these goals. Individuals like this are driven by something more, a deeper meaning that enables them to go further and do the ‘impossible’. Here is my attempt at understanding why people like this can truly make a difference. 
Start with the ‘Why’? 
I think it’s always very important to start with, and constantly revisit, ‘why’ you are doing something. If you can understand what drives you and what you want to achieve, then it’s easier to bring yourself back to this core purpose when times become difficult. This is what will make you persevere.  This is what will drag you out of bed early in the morning and this is what makes the hard times worthwhile. 
Understanding the ‘why’ behind what you are doing doesn’t need to happen at the start of the journey. If there is anything that is certain, it is that the entrepreneurial journey is never a straightforward one. The sooner you can dig into your motivations, the sooner you’ll discover strength that you never knew you had. 
I’m a huge fan of people like Simon Sinek and Jim Collins who have written a few fantastic books. Jim Collins is the author ‘Built to Last’ which studies great companies that have made a lasting impact on the world for generations, such as Sony and Disney. They both understood their core purpose (Disney’s was to ‘Make people happy’), as well as their core beliefs (one of Sony’s was to ‘Be a pioneer – not following others; doing the impossible’). The key thing here is that these simply aren’t ‘nice to haves’, they are part of your being. If you can see yourself going against these beliefs, then they simply are not core values.  Core values are central to what makes you the person you are – they define you. 
Then start thinking about ‘How’?  
Entrepreneurs are people that make things happen, people who will put in the extra mileage to ensure an idea succeeds. This being said, I am a firm believer that no one can accomplish anything truly great without a huge amount of help from others. No matter what you are doing, you will not scale well without bringing great people into your team.  
So how do you find great people? They say ‘Hire attitude, train aptitude’ and while this is true, I believe you must look for people who will work well with your culture. If they believe in what you are doing, in addition to sharing your core purpose and beliefs, then you will start to see a synergy – the whole becomes much greater than the sum of the parts. We’re beginning to see this with our first two hires – Cara and Justyna. David and I have always been a great team; the addition of Justyna and Cara has added a new dimension to the quality of our ideas and how quickly we can execute on them. Every day I walk into the office and there are moments where I am in awe of the things we are doing and the best thing is, I know there is more to come. And what’s more, a great idea can be copied – people and culture cannot. 
And finally, ‘What will you do’?
Another saying is, ‘start small, think big’, and I think this rings very true when starting any business unless you have serious money behind you. It has been said that entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunities beyond resources currently under your control. It’s unlikely when you initially have the idea that you’ll have the resource or the backing to create the dream. So you might need to go out and make sales to prove the concept, or you might need to raise the capital before you can do much.  
At the end of the day, what you choose to do is your choice and if you need a few ideas on where to start, check out this fantastic blog by Viva La Vita.  Perhaps you’ll start a business and sell it before moving on to a bigger venture (much like Elon Musk), or maybe you already know what needs to be done to change the world.  Why is it important for entrepreneurs to provide innovative solutions to the world’s big challenges?  Entrepreneurs are the ones who become passionate, motivated and, ultimately, defy norms to create the new in the world.  It’s important to remember that anyone can make a real difference, all you have to do is start. After all, If not you, then who?  If not now, then when?  

About Michael Corrigan (Co-founder of trtl) 

Michael Corrigan is the co-founder of trtl. trtl (pronounced ‘turtle’) have created the next generation of travel pillow – the trtl sleepscarf.  It is supportive and comfortable, allowing traveller’s to sleep for up to 8 hours in economy class. It looks just like a scarf so it’s more elegant than a travel pillow, is incredibly light, and packs easily inside or outside your luggage. trtl are currently stocked in The Excess Baggage Company, Terminals 4 and 5 of Heathrow Airport, St Pancras International, and will soon be stocked in Terminal 2 of Heathrow and Madrid Airports.  
You can follow trtl on Twitter @trtlpillow

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