Love and Lifestrapping – entrepreneurial inspiration from #firestarters

Firestarters, funded and hosted by Google, curated by Neil Perkin, continues to deliver inspiration in spades. Or buckets, actually. A bucket holds more than a spade.

Tonight’s event was about entrepreneurship, and featured David Hieatt (of Howies, The Do Lectures, and now Hiut Jeans), that Toby Barnes (of Mudlark, Playful, Chromaroma), and that Adil Abrar (of Sidekick Studios, The Amazings, and Buddy).

I’ve just noticed, they’ve all got three things… it must MEAN something…


They were all fantastically inspiring, and as always inspiring speakers like that make me itch that I’m not doing enough. But back to that in a moment.

Now, if you’d asked beforehand what I thought would be the theme of the evening, it wouldn’t have been love. But it very, very clearly was…

these are approximate quotes… I wish there was a punctuation mark for “I think they said something like this”…

“You’ve got to love your product, and you’ve got to love your customers… Start something that you love, that’s how others will love what you do” – David Hieatt

“Design something for an audience of one, and make it great so they love it… the quality and love it’s made with will attract others” – Toby Barnes

“Do something you love with the people you love” – Adil Abrar

Two thoughts are rumbling up as a result on the train home. Both based on particular words.

The first is bootstrapping. Used in all sorts of forms around startups, Minimum Viable Product, lean startups, pretotyping. Basically to make a business work without massive injection of funds at the beginning. And that’s fine.

I do wonder if there’s another word that goes alongside it, which works better as a term than ‘lifestyle business’ – the temporal equivalent to bootstrapping is lifestrapping: to make a business work without massive injection of time.

Back to my point before: when you’re a “one-man studio” (a German magazine called PAGE called Smithery that, and I am flattered and grateful and will STEAL IT), there’s no point getting itchy about wanting to ‘do more’. You just have to ‘do better’.

Maybe it’s time to get round to reading (on the irony) things like The Four Hour Work Week? Alternative & additional suggestions welcome.

Second point: the very fact I was surprised about the word love being used so much makes me think the word entrepreneur has taken a bit of a battering in my head. My perceptions of it have been shifted.

Maybe it’s partially to do with ‘Silicon Roundabout’ up there in Shoreditch; yes there are people who love what they do, and invest love and commitment in making a great thing.

But there are also a lot of people who just love ‘being an entrepreneur‘. They don’t care what they do, just as long as some VCs come along and give them money for it. That doesn’t strike me as way to build a business or an economy to last.

Then there’s pivot, a word that has troubled me a little in the context of all of this too. Sure, improve, tweak, change direction. How does a business pivot away from doing the thing it loves?

But perhaps tonight Adil got close to an answer to that, with his idea that whilst “the vision changes, the values remain the same”.

So really, as a synopsis of all three speakers, make sure that the thing you love is the problem you’re trying to solve for the people you love.

Or something.