The Mission Driven Business Podcast Episode 78: Debunking Overnight Success with John Driscoll

Brian chats with entrepreneur and mobile app pioneer John Driscoll. As the co-founder and CEO of Naked Development, John and his team are rewriting the rules of mobile app development, raising the bar for innovation and creativity. John shares invaluable insights on the courage, patience, and perseverance needed to navigate the unpredictable to succeed in business. He also debunks the myth of overnight success.

Episode Highlights

Mission-driven businesses pick their fight.

John believes you shouldn’t start a business unless you have a mission because having a true mission is like picking a fight. To be successful, companies should have a point of view that influences how they see the world and, as a result, how they connect with their target audience.

“Your company, whatever it’s doing, is connected to that point of view,” John said. “You have to point whatever you’re doing at a group of people, and by definition if you’re pointing at a group, you’re not pointing at the rest of them. It’s exclusion on purpose.”

Have the courage to niche yourself out.

John often uses the expression “niche yourself out” as a way to convey the importance of having an authentic point of view that connects with your target audience. Niching yourself out as a company takes real courage because, by definition, not everyone is going to agree with your decisions.

“Whether it’s calling your company Naked, like I did, or something else, you are going to have people who disagree,” John said. “That might even be your family — it was for me — and you have to just be okay with it. You have to expect it.”

Fire bullets before cannonballs.

Many entrepreneurs struggle with when to move out of the research phase and into getting experience. After all, being an entrepreneur is all about managing risk, and while risk can be transferred, it cannot be eliminated, so it’s best to get real-world experience as quickly as you can.

“A lot of people think they can curb their risk by doing more research upfront,” John said. “I’m not anti-research, but I am anti-waiting. You don’t get the rewards without the risk.”

One strategy to prioritize gaining real-world experience is to fire bullets before cannonballs, an expression that John borrowed from John Collins. The phrase encapsulates trying something small first before you go all in on an idea.

“I’ve blown it many times, where I’ve gone in and done the whole thing,” John said. “When you do that, and you get it wrong, whatever mistake you had made is compounded. Normally, if something works small, it’ll work big.”

Real success requires patience.

A very common mistake that John sees among young founders is impatience. He says many young entrepreneurs have an idea in their head of what success looks like, which is often overnight success. However, he believes overnight success is a myth.

“Instagram is probably one of the biggest overnight successes you could mention,” John said. “The founders started Instagram, and a year or two later had a billion dollar exit. That’s incredible, intense growth, but people forget to mention the app, Burbn, that the founders had started before Instagram and completely trashed. Even that example of overnight success still took time.”

Resources + Links

About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast

Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.

On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.