Between 1870 and 1882, John D. Rockefeller turned a one-man operation into an oil conglomerate so vast that the U.S. government felt compelled to create an entire new division to deal with his company, Standard Oil. He did all of this without the internet, computers, software, or anything remotely close. Despite having multiple offices, numerous job sites, and thousands of employees by 1882, his IT system consisted of pens, pencils, and paper.
More than a century later, after tiring of hearing some version of, “We’ll have to wait three to six months to launch so we can build the system to track it all,” I went on Amazon and ordered a stack of Big Chief tablets and a case of #2 pencils. Anytime someone would tell me that we had to wait because there wasn’t a system for it, they’d find a Big Chief tablet and a box of pencils on their desk within an hour along with a note that said, “Here’s your system. Please get started.”
It didn’t take long before that excuse was erased from the company.
Here’s the problem with waiting six months or three months or even one month while you hire programmers and designers to build out an entire system (not to mention the countless hours in meeting rooms talking and talking and talking about it.) You’re not going to get it right. If you go that route, within 24 hours of turning “the system” on, you’re going to learn something that sends you right back to the design board.
Instead, start small and start doing it. Start with a Big Chief tablet and a #2 pencil. You’ll learn what the system needs to be by actually doing it. If it works, maybe you can proceed to a spreadsheet or a small database or a simple web app. From there continue to refine and define the specs and build the system.
My oldest son recently talked about wanting to start a service business, but he didn’t have enough money to buy the hardware and software he felt he needed to do it “properly”. I drove to the local grocery store and purchased the items you see below. It took me less than 30 minutes round trip and cost me exactly $6.75. We sat down and I introduced him to the Standard Oil version of hardware and software.
No matter if it’s a new process at your current job, or Day One of a Rockefellian Empire, never let the lack of a system stop you from getting started.
You can launch today for less than $7.