I think I probably enjoy writing comedy, creating businesses and spending time with my kids in equal measure.
Unfortunately the lack of sales for my debut novel “Janet & John create a startup” demonstrated there’s no way to combine all three.
That, and the knowledge that most writers lead impoverished, lonely lives, surviving on pot noodles with only a dog for company, led me to focus on business as my career.
Actually, that implies I had a choice, but the truth is no one ever encouraged me to write – other than Mr Rodofsky in Year 4, who encouraged pretty much everyone at school to do pretty much everything and is now serving three years as a consequence.
As a child, my parents also discouraged me. It was the seventies – the miners were on strike so there were lots of power cuts – and the only successful author I knew of who wrote by candle-light was Shakespeare.
They told me I should enjoy writing as a hobby, but suggested I focused on finding a real job that pays real money, so I shared my idea for a book about a boy living under the stairs who went to Wizard school, and setup my first business.
Now I’m in my fifties. I’ve spent the last thirty years starting businesses, building them and selling them. I’ve had fantastic successes, abysmal disasters (which were frankly a lot more fun) – and I’ve spent the last decade investing in other people who have the same blind vision I had, and occasionally, the same disasters. Investing might not be as much fun, but at least when the business fails it’s refreshing to have someone else to blame.
The truth is, after having been in business in packaging, fashion, advertising, software, engineering and licensing – I realised I wanted something new. Really new.
About the same time, I found a renewed appreciation for the convenience of instant noodles, especially those accompanied by one of those little sachets of stickiness… and as it’s only the dog who appears pleased to see me anyway – it struck me, perhaps now’s the time to start writing.
So there I was, sat on a Caribbean beach trying to get the waiter to understand what a Bombay Bad Boy Pot Noodle was, when I had the revelation: to write a novel.
I had no idea of how to start, no story, no characters, no idea of whether I had the time, patience – or talent (although I never let that stop me in business).
I’d like to tell you I struggled and toiled for weeks and months before settling on The Biggest Idea in the World, but the truth is it came to me in an instant. I knew the beginning and the end, and if I couldn’t create a path between the two, I’d write a pamphlet instead.
The story’s about Barry, one of life’s failures who has a wife who hates him, a disastrous track record and a mountain of debt.
But he has an idea. An idea he 100% believes is the greatest idea anyone in the world has ever had. So, with the very last credit available on his maxed-out cards, he kisses his almost-ex-wife goodbye and sets off to Silicon Valley - the centre of the universe for new ideas, where he’s convinced he’ll make his billions.
Except his first hurdle is finding a flight there, before he realises Silicon Valley doesn’t actually exist and really he needs a ticket to San Jose...
He lands with an old suitcase stuffed with non-disclosure agreements. You see, he’s learnt from previous mistakes. No one believes him, but he’s already thought of the idea for Facebook, Instagram, TripAdvisor – all of them. Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to answer for – thieving his genius.
This time he’s prepared. He knows exactly what he’s got to do. He’s in no doubt he’s about to make his billions... if only he can pull it off.
David Joland is a novelist and businessman. His debut novel, The Biggest Idea in the World, is available from Amazon, priced at £8.99 in paperback and £3.99 as an e-book. For more information see thebiggestideaintheworld.com