Updated: Feb 17
There are some critical roles on a tour bus that enable it to go on a journey, consider for a second that this is not a regular bus; imagine an adventure tour with no set route…no planned agenda. Just a group of people who have signed up for an experience.
Driver - Leader
Passenger - Community - Customers
Tour Guide - Storyteller and Communications
Ticket Sales/ Tour Agent - monetisation of the experience
Entrepreneurs and change makers play all of those roles.
In the early days, they do it all at once. However, the order in which they sit in those various seats is critical.
I was speaking to a good friend today who is an entrepreneur. She sent me one of the best videos I've watched in a long time. She was in the car with my daughter and her two teenagers. Three teenagers in total and an entrepreneur who is loud, unapologetically herself and forever encouraging others to join in and have a fantastic experience, as life is for living.
Initially, the whole car had agreed to do in-car karaoke to "Let it go" frozen - for a laugh.
She set up the camera and music. When the song started, the teens bailed, and the entrepreneur went a full-Whitney and delivered a power ballad entirely out of tune and solo.
The teenagers laughed. How embarrassing. "Like mum, seriously, how embarrassing."
Halfway through the song, she realised nobody was joining her; the backup singers had bailed. Instead of stopping, she got louder as non-completion or a bow out was not an option. When you realise that nobody is coming to harmonise with you ( save you), you tend to ramp it up to compensate for the crew's gaps.
While watching the video, she was messaging me saying: "It's OK, you don't want to be my friend anymore after watching that", and also: "You can see why they kicked me out of the choir in grade 5!"
The thing is, I loved it. It was vulnerable; she was entirely out of tune, yet none mattered. She sang her heart out; that was the entertainment. She put on a show, and it was thoroughly entertaining. There was a plan, and she executed it even when no one else joined her.
Here's what I saw:
I saw someone put herself on the line. Step out, start, and set up the scene for others to join - whether they did or not wasn't the point. The bus was ready, the driver was in position, and the seats were available; what happened next didn't matter. The wheels were in motion.
This is the thing that change-makers and entrepreneurs do; they can create their path, and navigate through forests, tackle fires and storms, albeit with an ability to clear the way for others to follow or build seats on their bus.
This part creates change—jumping into the driver's seat and getting going. Not waiting for the seats to fill, not waiting to sell the tickets or get the branding right, get moving.
Forward motion is the potion of progress, and validation delivers the rest.
When you start something from scratch, you are the captain of the bus, the navigator, the ticket office, the mechanic, and the storyteller, and it's a stretch until you build the rest.
It's possible, it's never perfect, and you'll be entirely out of tune, but it's important to remember you're not there to be the best singer. You're there to follow through and get the job done. Once things start to gain momentum, validation proves you are delivering value, and people want what you have created and are willing to pay for it; you can then get the best lead singer. The wheels will keep rolling.
Just like car karaoke. Sing the entire song solo, out of tune, but to completion, keep going and care, disregard who's watching. Follow through.
Sometimes, passengers who have good intentions to join you become overwhelmed with the 'what if's and 'who's looking'; they may fail to launch due to fear of imperfection. No matter how much fun it might be or the lure of success, the fear of failure is more significant.
Fear sabotages success.
I witness this so much in business. So many people are sitting idle on their idea. Waiting for the right time, person, platform, place, opportunity, more confidence, more knowledge or a copilot/cofounder. The fear of going alone is paralysing.
Breaking it down into small steps makes it more achievable.
The first simple step involves taking your place in the driver's seat. Not thinking about it, actually sitting in the seat. This is what starting looks like.
You grow into the person you need to be to manage each other stage as you go. You can't possibly know what you don't know when starting. You will most definitely learn what you need to know as you go along. You may break down, get stuck, or need help yes; you may get passengers to join you; you may not; you may find value in those passengers and invite them to the front as a copilot; you may provide an excellent experience and encourage others to do the same.
You may also have those passengers who say they're on board but don't end up singing…
This is a good thing.
Let people show you in their actions where they're at and what they are capable of. Words mean very little; actions will tell you everything you need to know.
None of this happens in a stationary position; the wheels need to roll. The driver's hat also comes with a salesperson hat, a finance hat, a marketing hat, and mechanic overalls, all while you need to have one hand on the wheel, one eye on the road, one on the horizon, and just keep rolling.
Many early-stage projects overthink and overengineer the first part. Hiring teams and professionals that chew up capacity and funds before the engine has kicked over for a warm-up lap to test demand.
There's nothing more vital than running through a few test runs to get a feel for how your bus runs. Get in that seat, and sing your heart out; even if it sounds terrible, keep going. When you know your value and have actual customers wanting to ride the bus, there's merit in rounding out a team. If it highlights no exact product market fit, it's a great way to know when to let it go.
Next time a karaoke-worthy song pops up on your playlist in the car or that idea you've been sitting on for a while calls you to action, don't overthink it by looping out on all the 'what if's, or worry about who's watching; simply decide to sit in the driver's seat and get those wheels rolling.