Sahil is one my favorite Twitter follows. His tweets are always insightful and inspiring as he often speaks of an alternative path to raising money and pursuing hyper-growth. So when this book came out I bought it at once and devoured. It didn’t disappoint.
As I bootstrap my company with my friend Orlando Osorio, this book has served me well to really think about what it is that we want to build and to realize that as long as we’re building and learning we’ll be on our road to success. If you’re on a similar path I recommend reading this book in its entirety and pair it with The $100 Startup.
What kind of business do I really want to build, own, and run?
The Minimalist Entrepreneur
The domain name always comes first, the business idea comes second. — Peter Askew
There is something profoundly beautiful in a value-oriented mission and a genuine purpose driven by your own lived experience. This is what being a minimalist entrepreneur is all about: making a difference while making a living. May winners are just the last ones standing. Don’t give up.
You don’t learn, then start. You start, then learn
Become a creator first, an entrepreneur second.
Start with community
Most businesses fail because they aren’t build with a particular group of people in mind.
Create by showing what you’re working on, teaching what you’re learning, and brining new material to your community, that influence will grow ninetyfold.
Nathan Barry, the founder of ConvertKit, has hanging in his office:
- “Work in Public”
- “Teach Everything You Know”
- “Create Every Day”
If you’re regularly learning, then you’ll always have regular content to contribute to the community. This can become a nice flywheel over time, as teaching often becomes the best way to drive your own curiosity and inspiration to learn from yourself.
Build as little as possible
Document each part of the process so that with every consecutive customer you have a playbook.
Want to find a good SaaS idea? Start a business, literally any business. You will soon realize how bad every existing tool is that you have to pay for. to run that business, and you will quickly become overwhelmed by the number of things you feel you need to build yourself — Adam Wathan
“Processizing” is a concept we employ over and over again at Gumroad. Everything I do is listed on a piece of paper that everyone in the company can access. When I go on vacation, someone else can take over my job.
The early stages are all about constraints
Sell to your fist hundred customers
My sense is that people who wish to reach customers some other way, like search engine optimization (SEO) or content marketing, are looking for an out. If that’s you: Stop! It doesn’t exist! Just hunker down and dedicate some time to finding people, reaching out to them personally via email, phone, whatever, and being okay with sucking for a while.
Market by being you
The secret sauce is unique to each platform, but it is typically judged by what is ging to lead to continued engagement by the end user. In general, this means that your content should lead to likes, shares, comments, and other forms of positive affirmation on the part of the consumer on the other side of the screen.
Be authentic. What did you learn? What conversation did you have? Your job here is ti give, not ask.
…providing value for free, asking for nothing in return, repeatedly.
You will do this every day, because it’s part of your job apply your learnings from painting, writing, designing, software engineering, or physics to life and share them with a wider audience. You can document your projects and your progress: where you started and where you are today.
Give them something in exchange for their email, like a mini ebook, a short PDF guide, a video, a series of emails that help them solve a problem, or a checklist to complete
The amazing thing about SEO is that it’s a long-term play. It only gets better over time if you put effort into it —Laura Roeder
Grow yourself and your business mindfully
You don’t need to grow like crazy, but you also don’t want to grow stagnant
Being a minimalist entrepreneur is all about owning a business that you want to work on, even if you don’t have to work on it anymore.
If you’re worried about making a living, I get it. That’s why I’ve recommended again and again that you start your business as a side project and use your time, energy, and ideas to grow the business to profitability before you leave your day job.
Your customers do not want you to get bigger and grow faster. They don’t care how rich you are, if you were on the * Forbes* “30 Under 30” list, which venture capitalists you raised money from, or how many employees you have. They want your product to improve, and your business to stick around. That’s about it.
Amazon has a nice way of thinking about this: “In every board meeting in Amazon HQ stands an empty chair. That seat represents the customer and the customer voice”
Build the house you want to live in
Focus on culture before hiring. Before you’re ready to hire anyone, you first need to make a company people want to work for.
Defining and communicating your company’s values early sets expectations for how work is done and how disagreements are handled within the organization.
Businesses are product agnostic.
In the long run, giving everyone autonomy allows you to be a peer to your employees so that you can code alongisde your engineers, design alongside your designers, and spend your time creating and building. something impactful rather than constantly managing others.
Nothing is urgent—unless the site is down—discussion takes place only after mindful processing.
If something does need to be discussed in really-real time, we now use Clubhose for audio-only conversations. As a bonus, we can pull our customers into meetings much more easily than if it were a Zoom call.
Where do we go from here?
While I was no longer on track to become a dollar billionaire, I realized I was a “time billionaire”, someone Graham Duncan defines as having at least a billion seconds left in their life—or at least thirty-one years.
The goal here is to free yourself, to make the business require as little of you as you wish it to, so that you can engage with the world in the way you think best, whatever that looks like.
One more thing
It’s not about avoiding failure but getting to success, eventually. The longer it takes to win, the more prepared you’ll be, because you’ll get better every year that it takes.