Creating value from zero

Recently, I wrote a post on what being an entrepreneur means to me:

Being an entrepreneur means that I am making it my job to create value in the world.

In that post, I wrote about creating value, and about getting it out into the world. Today, I realized that I forgot about one key thing: not only does an entrepreneur create value, an entrepreneur creates value from zero.

This makes a world of difference.

Many people create value in the world. Those who work at startups, small companies, and large companies and are paid to value to the company. By adding value to the company, they may directly or indirectly create value in the world.

Not many people create value from zero. This is incredibly difficult to do. An entrepreneur needs to discover what adds value to the world, test it, build it, iterate on it, and get it out there in the world. You could easily fail at any of these tasks, and the world would get along just fine without you. Starting at zero means that there is no momentum on your side and you literally need to will your creation into existence.

What I’ve found particularly difficult is that there isn’t much in life that trains you creating value from zero.

Personally, I have gone through undergrad and learned concepts/theories, and built toy programs. I’ve continued through grad school where I created research prototypes. I continued to a research job in industry where I built research prototypes. In my many years of schooling, nothing involved creating real value from zero.

I have friends who have worked industry jobs for quite a while. Most companies have already figured out their money making machine. Therefore, their jobs typically involve greasing the machine, maintaining it, or adding a new contraption to the machine. As mentioned earlier, these jobs may create value, but not starting from zero.

It seems that along the “normal” path in life, it is rare to create real value starting from zero. Yet, this ability is incredibly valuable.

So how, do you go about learning how to create value from zero?

The default paths through life won’t get you there. Blogging is a great exercise in creation and may be a good start. Beyond that, you just need to get out there and start doing it.

(Photo credit: Sarah Hempel Irani)

P.S. This is post number #30 in a 100 day blogging challenge. See you tomorrow!

Follow me on Twitter @alexshye.

Check out my current project Soulmix, your daily mix of food for the soul.