Successful Entreprenuership Relies on These Two Concepts

I am amazed at how awesome it is to create something that people love, yet never existed before. As I look back upon my first entrepreneurial journey, two concepts really stand out as key to success.

First, always have in mind the whole shebang, that ultimate product that we are striving to build, in the form of a common vision. The whole shebang includes the ecosystem, the features, and the overall purpose of what you are trying to accomplish. The vision is then communicated and used by the team as guidelines for their work.

Second, flexibility in how it all comes together is required. Sure, you can writing a detailed business plan and plot every step of the way. But, flexibility along the journey lets the product evolve as the understanding of the vision evolves. As the saying goes, “there is more than one way to skin a cat,” so let your team help drive the technology, drive the UI, and let creativity, flexibility, and vision coalesce into an awesome product.

When flexibility and vision work against each other, one must stop and consider whether the deviation is worth the distraction. It could be as flexibility could introduce access to a whole new realm that compliments the vision. It could also create a totally separate vision that should be handled as a separate vision and project.

I would argue that flexibility in the implementation of a start-up is what creates a positive, fun, and creative environment where everyone is putting in their two cents. The final product will embody the souls of the team.

Once you have the whole shebang in the form of vision, you can lead your team down a flexible and highly creative path to success.

When a Farmhouse and Barn Collide

My creative side has been thinking about the architectural collision between a farmhouse and a barn.  While I am not sure what prompted this to consume my mind, but the problem I am trying to solve goes like this:

“You purchase a property, a former farm with rolling hills, trees, a creek, and two dilapidated structures; a barn and a two-story farmhouse.   To pay homage to the dwellings and the people who owned the land previously, you decide you want to keep the feel of the two buildings.  The problem is that you can only build a single structure and this structure needs to represent both the farmhouse and barn and must include salvaged materials. “

This problem has been at the forefront of my thoughts for a few days now.  So far, I have done a bit of research on barns and farmhouses as well as produced two quick sketches.  What I am keeping in mind is the structure needs to morph between the two structures.  What I see first is the farmhouse, but as the eye moves away from the front door (bright red, of course) the structure morphs into the barn to leave the viewer with the question, what is it, a barn or farmhouse?

I really think this presents an interesting dilemma as there are numerous approaches you can take to solving the problem.

  • For one, you can either start with the farmhouse or you start with the barn.
  • Second, you can focus on representing the barn through use of materials and let the farmhouse dominate the view.
  • Third, you can leverage the “rolling hills” and have a two faced structure such as a two story farmhouse on the hilltop and from the bottom all you see is a three story barn.

In both of my sketches, I started with the overall shape of a barn and appended farmhouse type features to it.  A farmhouse to me is represented by massive porches, multi-pane windows with shudders, white clapboard siding, and gables.   After looking at pictures of farmhouses, I added dormer windows to the list as well as brick fireplaces.

In sketch A, the basic barn shape exists and appends a massive front porch and white clapboard siding while the rest of the structure is in red barn siding. All first story windows match the windows on the front porch elevation.  The second floor windows are much more in tune with the simple square windows of a barn with 12+ windows placed in a row above the farmhouse roof line.  To represent the hay loft, I placed a massive window on the second story with a pulley above.  Out the back is an addition with a gable that represents a later addition to the simple farmhouse wrapped in white clapboard siding.   The interesting thing about this version is it appears to be a farmhouse pancaked with a barn on top of it.

Farmhouse meets barn... sketching the problem

Farmhouse meets barn… sketching the problem

In sketch B, I wanted to distort the rectangle shape of the barn, so I added a typical farmhouse gable to one side, extending out with a wrap about porch and front door.  Again, this is wrapped in white clapboard with black shudders and some type of wood shingle on the roof which would contrast with the metal roof of the barn.  The barn itself would be red and would feature a mix of square and rectangular windows.  One end of the barn would have massive wooden doors that open to reveal glass doors.   Out the back of the barn (opposite side the gable) would be an additional structure, possibly made of stone that features a scaled down gable.   After taking a look at this version, I see a barn with a farmhouse attached to it. Wether or not the barn or farmhouse dominates, depends on the size of the front gable as the sketch’s gable is not the right proportion for my vision.

What is missing from both of these sketches are dormer windows and the brick fireplaces.   It would also be interesting to think of the lot the structure would sit on.  In fact, a number of questions pop into my head that can help this take on more detail:  Is there a creek nearby?  What is the terrain?  Where would the driveway go?  How can the interior layout leverage the transitions between spaces?

As I develop the idea, I am more inclined to find a middle ground between A and B.  I like the pancake nature, but I would like to break away the barn shape.  Again, leveraging material type and color would be key to taking this ho-hum to an awesome home that belongs on a magazine cover.

As I continue to develop this idea, I will post more.  For now, think about the complimentary nature of farmhouse and barn and how they come together and where they don’t.   If you have any ideas, please leave a comment.

Evening Hike


Adding sublime moments to our modern, technologically advanced lives is an important strategy for keeping our sanity.

This evening I went for a short hike through Parma Park during the last moments of light. The peaceful air, moisture, greenery, and vast highlighted peaks in the distance make me appreciate just how important we preserve the wonderful, wild nature we live in.