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Tag Archives: Innovation

[blank] Do You Love? part II

Oh, crap…

Do What You Love and Starve?

I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve been sold a bill of goods when we’re told to “Follow your passion, “ or “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Fact is, if you do what you love, you’ll probably starve.

If you’re entrepreneurial, I recommend starting your own business. Yes, I know, only 20 percent of new businesses are still in business after five years, but you can beat the odds. Just remember is this one rule: Don’t innovate. Replicate. Copy a successful simple business.

Innovations are too risky: Your product might not work, may not be popular with the public, or a competitor could beat you to market. Why be a guinea pig? Unless you have deep pockets or are truly brilliant, the risks are too great. Many people have ended up in poverty because of their innovations. Even TiVo, a wonderful new product lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the first few years. Last I checked, you don’t have oodles of money to lose. Leave the innovations to corporations or the independently wealthy.

—Marty Nemko

Here’s my problem: I’m addicted to innovating.

Years ago, back when I thought an ‘engineer’ drove a choo-choo train, I tried to make a living as a cabinetmaker. I noticed that people (ladies, actually) seemed to crave dome-top trunks, so I designed a lapstrake dome-top trunk. The prototype, made from junk lumber, served as my son’s toy box. The first ‘production unit’ was built on speculation to display at craft shows, and then I intended to build them to order. I got enough orders, but never made the profit I could have, because I kept changing the design, searching for the ‘perfect’ dome-top trunk. I think I went through five revisions in a year and then went out of the cabinet business.

Fast forward a half-dozen years. I was a design engineer. Many of the ideas I had were not interesting to my employer so they never saw the light of day. On the one hand I was collecting a paycheck, so that was better than the cabinet business, but on the other hand many of my ‘children’ were stillborn as it were. This pattern continued over the next quarter century.

Nowadays I am potentially free to pursue my own interests. Only my interests are not ‘free’. Marty, I don’t believe your sensible rule… I hope impossible things will happen every day.

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