Swing For Your Fence


I work on 20Skaters, ThreeFortyNine, Ontario Startup Train and a few others. My vanity site is brydon.me.

Remember that Blue Jays game a few years back when, because of a team-wide illness, an equipment manager dressed for the game? He was meant to sit on the bench and look like a player. The back story is that he had played little baseball in his life, even as a kid. Everyone in attendance was blown away when, because of cleared benches and the resulting ejections, he stepped to the plate to face a major leaguer’s fastball. I recall the funniest part was watching him in the on-deck circle trying to figure out if he should bat left or right handed.

All of that was nothing compared to the amazement of watching him hit that first pitch he faced clear over the fence for a home run. Who would have thought?

Well no one because I just made that all up and I’m fairly certain that everyone knew that as it’s clearly absurd. Even supreme athletes like Michael Jordan had to train and practice to swing for the fences. Why is it that in startups and new business we continue to push our rookies to ‘swing for the fences’? It’s equally as absurd as my fictional story.

Even Jason Fried offers reasonable first steps of selling one thing online as a start. You have to make your first dollar before you can make your thousandth or millionth, that’s undeniable. You need your first customer before your tenth or hundredth.

Why aren’t we suggesting realistic goals? Make $100/month. Then make $500, $1K, $5K etc. Do that as fast as you can. For some people that’ll take a week, for others ten years. Where is this person who went from years of salaried employment to founding a billion dollar startup in less than a year? I want to meet her.

“The way to get started is by creating tasks that are of doable size”, The Lean Entrepreneur.

We accept that to run a marathon, we have to run 5k first, then 10k first so why is it different in business? Please, always swing for the fences, but do it at a pace that fits with you. It’s not an excuse to take your time or go slow, it’s accepting that every overnight sensation in music spent years playing their parent’s garage.

It’s not sexy, it won’t get us pageviews and land us on TechCrunch but it’s a principle we’re building Startupify.Me on. We’re betting we can take some individuals with some raw talent and the willingness to gamble on themselves and help them swing for whatever they define as their fence.