In January 1964, Bill Bowerman an athletics coach made his first pair of running shoes for one of his students. The shoes were not great, they did not feel great on an athlete’s feet, they had no support and were too tight. That same year Bowerman registered a company called Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). The company initially operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger (now ASICS), making most sales at track meets out of an automobile. In 1964, in its first year in business, BRS sold 1,300 pairs of Japanese running shoes grossing $8,000. By 1965 the fledgling company had acquired a full-time employee, and sales had reached $20,000. In 1966, BRS opened its first retail store. BRS was later renamed to share the same name as the Greek goddess of victory. Today that company is valued at $19 billion, making it the most valuable brand amongst sport businesses. That company is NIKE.
In 2006 a podcasting company called Odeo was struggling. The founders and employees motivation was low. The business was having a rough patch. To boost morale in the company the founders gave employees some “free time” to work on anything that excited them. After a brainstorming session during the “free time” Jack Dorsey, then an undergraduate student at New York University, introduced the idea of an individual using an SMS service to communicate with a small group. The first prototype of this service was used as an internal service for Odeo employees. It was then later released to the public in July 2006. Today that service has more than 500 million registered users and is one of the most visited websites. That service is TWITTER.
In early 2007, aged 12, a Canadian boy sang Ne-Yo‘s “So Sick” for a singing competition in Stratford, Ontario and was placed second. His mom posted the video of the competition on youtube for his family and friends to see. The boy’s mom did not stop there, she continued posting videos of him singing covers of various R&B songs. The little boy’s popularity grew on youtube. While searching for videos of a different singer, Scooter Braun, a former marketing executive of So So Def, clicked on one of the little boy’s videos by accident. Braun was impressed, tracked down the boy and laid the foundation for him to become a famous star. Today that boy has millions of fans and is one of the top international celebrities. That boy is JUSTIN BIEBER.
In 1990, while on a four hour-delayed train trip from Manchester to London, the idea for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry formed in a British woman’s mind. As soon as she got home after the train ride she started writing. Five years later she eventually finished the manuscript on an old typewriter. The manuscript was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript. A year later she was eventually given the green light by an editor from Bloomsbury Publishing. In June 1997, Bloomsbury published the book with an initial print run of 1000 copies. That book as you may have already guessed is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the British woman is J. K. ROWLING.
If you were there at the start of each of the stories above you would have not predicted the amount of success that would be achieved later on. It is often very difficult to predict the long-term success of most things at the beginning.
What we do know is that great things take time and it is the gradual application and daily grind that gets people or companies to the top.
We often get overwhelmed by thinking about the huge end goal. The billion dollar company you want to start. The peak fitness level you want to reach. The millions of fans you want to have.
We get overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. We never start because the goal seems so difficult and far away. What we miss is that successful people or companies got where they are by completing the most fundamental step: STARTING.
Most of the time you won’t even know how big the thing you are starting could become. A lot of the success stories are like this. The difference or the secret embedded in these success stories is that the people involved STARTED.
In the beginning, you must begin. Most of us start in the same place: no money, no resources, no contacts, no experience. Start anyway. – James Clear
What are you going to start doing today?