Lessons from Instagram's success

What can Kiwi entrepreneurs learn from the Instagram story?

Richard LiewThe purchase of Instagram for US$1 billion by Facebook is undoubtedly the big entrepreneur story of the moment.

While these sorts of stories can and should be useful sources of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s easy to read the headlines, become transfixed and distracted by all the heady numbers ($1 billion, 18 moths, 30 million users) and then go back to our day-to-day lives without learning anything that might actually be useful in our own pursuit for entrepreneurial success.

So, here’s four lessons off the top of my head that I think us Kiwi entrepreneurs can take from the Instagram story.

There has never been a better time

First and foremost, this story should serve as a reminder to all of us that we live in a world and time of unprecedented opportunity to create wealth and prosperity through entrepreneurship. Not only that, we all have the opportunity to create vast wealth, from nothing but an idea, far faster than ever. If you have a computer, a phone, your health, and the ability to help others you’re already far luckier than most. So no excuses, no complaints - get to it!

Success leaves tracks

“$0 To $1 billion In 18 months” might make for glamorous headlines but mainstream media does us no favours by glossing over the many years of learning, hard work and failure that go into these “overnight success” stories. The reality is that Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger spent years paying their dues and building their knowledge, skills, experience and contacts in the startup/tech space, working for a number of different internet giants including Google, Microsoft and Odeo (which later became Twitter). Not only that, but they both had previous startups which failed along the way, enabling them to learn valuable lessons before they broke through with Instagram. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity. There are no shortcuts for preparing yourself!

Age (and a whole bunch of other irrelevant stuff) is no barrier

Still holding yourself back because you’re too young/old to be a success? Get over it! It’s taken a few thousand years but thankfully we now live in a world where your credibility in business is increasingly being based on what it should be (the value you are bringing to the table, your vision, your actions, your integrity) as opposed to a load of superficial BS that has nothing to do with your ability as an entrepreneur (your age, your gender, your race, your school, your “class” or “socio-economic status”).

Solve a problem, that you are passionate about, for many people

Yes there are a whole raft of things you will need to get right in order to build a successful business. But no matter how complicated or chaotic things get, if you simply focus on these three fundamental factors you will greatly increase your chances of success. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger looked for a way to share the things they loved about Polaroid pictures with millions of smart phone owners. What’s your mission?

Richard Liew is founder at Espire Media. Read more on his blog here.