Bear Grylls. The Island. Seen it?

A bunch of ordinary people dropped onto a desert island with nothing but a day of water and a few machetes.

Task 1: Start a fire. Without fire, they can’t boil the water they find. So, they’ll soon die of thirst.

How to start a fire?  No matches, nothing. Well, mostly they use the “bow drill” method, twizzling a stick into a block to create (hopefully) some heat from the friction, then putting on some dry grass followed quickly by nurturing this into a flame.

This is the perfect metaphor for an entrepreneur.

You see these guys spending hours sawing away, sweating buckets to get even the tiniest puff of smoke. Time and again they think they have got there, but the heat dissipates, and it’s back to square one. Maybe it starts raining. Nightmare. I have seen them working on it all day, but eventually, the smoke achieves sufficient temperature to catch light to the grass, then the twigs, then everything else. The next move from a tiny bit of smoke to big blaze takes only a few minutes, even seconds. All that matters then is NEVER to let it go out!

Starting a business feels to me a lot like spending hours and hours on getting to the point where the fire catches hold, then you get to stand back and add logs from time to time! It can be a painful and thankless task. To keep on sawing when there doesn’t seem to be much to show for it.

How easy is it to give up when it is just not working…? to forget the dream of a nice blazing fire and die of thirst? But you know that just around the corner once the flame takes hold, then life gets so much easier…. So, you keep sawing.

OK, in this metaphor, what about the guy who turns up with glasses and uses the sun? Or someone who brought a flint? Cheating? Or Smart?

And never forget how hard it was to start. Never let the flame go out.