I just got an SMS from my bank that a vendor charged me $199 for something I have not used for years. That vendor has been charging me annually throughout those years of zero use. I just smiled and closed the message, without taking any action, just as I did last year. If I were to deal with it, I would spend at least 30 minutes communicating (or trying to) with them. Writing this article is a much better use of those 30 minutes.

Today I will tell you one of my dirtiest secrets: I have been sponsored for years. On a large scale - millions of dollars. To be exact, over five million dollars within the past ten years.

Here is how this sponsorship works. There are customers who purchase our services with the idea in mind to start a new project. Usually this happens in January as an attempt to follow up on a New Year’s resolution. After all the New Year’s parties, people sober up, dream up a name for their future business, hunt for available domain names, settle on “the one,” and purchase the domain together with web hosting, usually prepaid for one year. Then life takes its toll, and they forget about their resolution and their new project. One year later, they receive the automatic email from ICDSoft, reminding them about their domain and hosting service. Their reaction usually is, “Oh right, THIS TIME I WILL DO IT!” And despite the fact that we do not charge credit cards automatically, they go through the entire renewal process a second time. By their own free will, they do sponsor me once again.

By the way, I was born on Christmas Eve. Every year, around Christmas time, Dimitar gets about half a million dollars for doing nothing. Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, and Happy New Year, Dimitar! It’s been more than ten years already, and I am afraid I will get spoiled! So today, I will take a step to prevent this. Don’t get me wrong - I still want your money. But I want to deserve it. This year, I’ll give you a boost of inspiration to help you follow through with starting your business…

I see starting a new business like an aircraft taking off. The first step is building that aircraft. You design it, raise the funds, assemble it, and learn something about “flying” so that you can actually put it to use. This is the initial check list. The order is up to you. You think it is hard? Life is very long, and every day we waste money on things we can easily live without. Collect a brick per day, and you will have enough to build a castle. It is never too late, and late is better than never. If you think that life is being particularly hard on you by delaying your “takeoff,” think again. This delay is an opportunity for you to grow wiser so that you’re not scrambling to figure out how to fly the plane once you’re already in the air. I cannot imagine a 20-year-old me managing ICDSoft. It would have been a disaster for everyone. I am grateful for the delays that happened, and that allowed my own growth to catch up with the growth of my business.

Once all preparations for a new business are done, it is time for a take-off. In my opinion, most startups fail not because of poor planning, but because of in-the-moment piloting mistakes. Whether you are flying a jumbo jet or a self-propelled flying broom, keep in mind that your runway (time and resources) is not endless, and each aircraft requires a certain take-off speed. So to make sure you take off before the runway ends, push that d@mn throttle to the maximum. It will be shaky. If you cannot bear turbulence, then I am sorry for wasting your time - skip the rest of this article, as my advice is not for you. To the rest of you: it will be always shaky - until you get used to it. As long as you make the active decision to take off before the runway ends, you’re doing well. Most people make the mistake of focusing too hard on finances/economies. As a result, their dream business never takes off. Rather, it crashes at the end of the runway at a speed of twenty miles per hour. If you want to save on fuel, do not fly at all! Make the decision to fly. If I were reborn and had to choose just one personality trait, I would choose to be decisive. It works.

If you’ve already taken off and have no idea how to "land"… full disclosure: I don’t either. But I’m okay with not knowing that. Consider this. A passenger wakes during a night flight and sees the crew, wearing helmets and parachutes, walking through aisle towards airplane's tail. “What's going here?” he asks. The last in line stops for a second, leans closer, and whispers, “We got troubles at work.” You will have troubles on your "aircraft" too, but I will not teach you how to jump. In reality (and out of the metaphor), I have actually been skydiving since I was 16. It’s cool and I like it… but in business I am the captain of my plane and I’ll always choose to trade my own parachute for more fuel and instruments, as a gesture of solidarity with my crew and passengers.

This article may be a departure from the typical “how-to” posts here, but I wrote it simply to remind you not to forget the plans you’ve made. Do not let them collect dust for too long. Mankind uses a very small fraction of its potential, due to a deficit of decisiveness, while we have no idea how much time we have before we lose our wings. So please, I beg you, whoever you are, push your d@mn throttle too. I believe in you.