Some time ago a colleague and I had what we thought would be an absolutely knock out business idea: we would rebuild air zeppelins, float them above Liverpool Cricket Club in South Liverpool and then organise day trips across Merseyside, carving out new flight paths in the sky to connect up our local towns in new and interesting ways. There would be special trips to Wales; one offs out to the Island of Mann and all sorts of zany and exciting possibilities. We would be reinventing the Zeppelin building industry; we would be reintroducing old skills that had died out over 100 years ago and before long, our Zeppelins would be in the top ten tourist destinations across Europe.
However, we overlooked the fact – for a short period of time – that we had no track record of designing Zeppelin Airships. We didn’t have a clue about flight paths or the behaviour of large gas filled balloons in high winds over the Irish Sea. We didn’t even have a bank account. We were – mercifully for a very short time, until the alcohol wore off – completely and utterly deluded.
Now, a level of delusion in business start ups is partially essential, partially an occupational hazard. No-one ever got anywhere without some degree of crazed, unconnected and completely irrational thinking. However, there is delusion and there are the White Lines of Delusion: thin white trails of hopes, aspirations and fantasy which the business start up would be well advised to keep clear of. Those white lines can lead you to wrecking your bank balance, your credibility and your place in history. The White Lines of Delusion spell trouble and the sooner you can wean yourself away from them and settle for plain old fashioned wishful thinking (coupled to a bank account), the sooner your start up will really start up and start walking the walk rather than crashing and burning in a blaze of white line fuelled glory. Remember the Hindenburg and save your hot air for a better investment.