It seems like once a week someone mentions to me that it is really critical that we find the next Google. “What Michigan really needs…” (They’ll usually start) “Is another company like Google and then we will have achieved success”.
I’m sorry, but to me that is not how entrepreneurship works.
I seriously doubt that when Larry and Sergey were exploring the mathematical properties of the web that they were focused on world domination as their number one goal!
Entrepreneurs are at their best when they are laser focused on the “next” immediate goal and not distracted by the “what if” scenarios of potential ultimate success. Don’t get me wrong, entrepreneurs dream BIG and that is a very good thing. But obsessing about the final destination is distracting and does not help achieve the next milestone.
Innovation can happen in the most unusual way and it may not be apparent to the casual observer when a truly “big idea” is being worked out. Honestly, it is most likely not apparent to the entrepreneur who is hard at work solving a problem. For them, it’s just another obstacle that needs to be removed.
This concept is not limited to startups, it is part of an entrepreneurial mindset and used by people in the largest of companies. One of my favorite business analysis authors, Jim Collins, writes in his book “Good to Great”:
In each of these dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great corporate transformations, we found the same thing: There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—kept each company, its leaders, and its people on track for the long haul – Jim Collins, October 2001.
So the next time someone tells you that what Michigan needs is another Google tell them they’ve got it all wrong… what Michigan needs is a thousand entrepreneurs all focused directly on the obstacle right in front of them.