I was talking to a fellow parent yesterday and discussion turned to what we do for a living. When I said I worked as an independent consultant, the big question was “Where do you find work?” The answer was a combination of sales, networking, and contacts.
It was simply small talk, but it occurred to me how strange my chosen path must seem to him, and how the truth is so much more complicated. When you run a small business, especially in the early years, it can almost feel like a sort of manic depression. When times are good, you feel like you could take on the world. Like you are a business genius. Then a few deals fall through and times get a little lean and you feel like a fraud. But you always have to know that your next move will fix everything. To make it as a small business owner, and to get clients for your business, you need to be little bit delusional, a little bit crazy.
The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
— George Bernard Shaw
This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes. And whenever I bring up this quote, I like to cite the example of air conditioning. If you lived over 100 years ago, and you were hot, what was the reasonable thing to do? Get used to it or move. But there were several people throughout history that were unreasonable enough to think “What if I make the area around me colder?”
What about the first person to try to use fire? Other cavemen must have thought he was completely mad.
You know how a blue light explodes into the ground sometimes when it rains, and then it creates that orange light that destroys everything it touches? I’m gonna grab some of that, and see if I can do something useful for it.
— One crazy caveman that got us where we are today
When I first started working for myself, the first thing I bought was a “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” letterpress poster commemorating the now famous Apple ad campaign, and the recently passed Steve Jobs. In the early days, when I wasn’t sure what to do next, I would turn, and read the poster, and know I was doing the right thing.
In order to succeed, and get clients for your business, you need to trust in yourself, and believe 100% in what you are selling. Passion and belief in what you are doing is a form of madness that will drive you forward when it feels like you can’t go on.