Then work backwards.

Want to run an ideal startup? an ideal team? write an ideal book? life the ideal life?

Start with the ideal.

Derek Sivers, in his book Anything You Want, in the chapter titled “Make a Dream Come True”, describes how he started CD Baby this way.

It’s fascinating. He built such an awesome company because he started it by trying to design something that would stay small! He was already living his dream life as a full-time musician, and he didn’t want anything to distract him from that. But CD Baby was online already and helping some of his friends, plus some of theirs and some of theirs.

“I thought that by taking an unrealistically utopian approach, I could keep the business from growing too big.”

His mind was free from all the trappings of ambition. Without any desire to grow big, why not just make it as perfect for the customers as possible?

“I wrote down my utopian dream-come-true distribution deal from my musicians’ point of view.

‘In an ideal world, my distributor would:

  1. Pay me every week.
  2. Show me the full name and address of everyone who bought my CD.
  3. Never kick me out for not selling enough.
  4. Never allow paid placement.’

And that’s it! That was my mission. I liked it. It was a worthy hobby.”

Imagine if more business were started out with that frame of mind.

A worthy hobby.

Built with the sole purpose of helping some group of people.

It you want to build a startup, begin with this process:

  1. Put yourself deep into the minds of the people you would serve.
  2. Ask yourself, “In a perfect world…”
  3. Write down what comes to mind, and keep it brief.

You’ve just written your mission statement. If it doesn’t get you excited, if it doesn’t feel like a worthy and challenging hobby, then reconsider if you really want to be doing this.

And why not take it further?

When you’re considering spending time on anything, from getting in shape to taking up an instrument, start with the ideal. The perfect utopia. Try to let go of the desire to attain anything. Think of it like a hobby that’s worthy of your time.