Focusing on the Right Things

I see this happen all the time. Someone launches their entrepreneural journey, thrusting themselves out into the world to hang a shingle and try to create something of their own.

Then, shit gets messy.

They start worrying about letterheads, buying t-shirts and other swag, getting nicer chairs for the office and a myriad of other time-wasting tasks. More often than not, what’s left of the startup is a box of t-shirts in the corner.

Let’s be real clear on one thing: anything that doesn’t directly lead to customers trasacting with you is a waste of time in those early days. In those early days, cash is at a premium, and your entire goal is to get a product into the market and find out if people want it.

That’s it. You’re not building a brand here. You’re not changing the world, yet. You’re trying to get the first 10 people to say that what you’re doing is valuable.

This is such an amateur mistake, and it’s easy to spot people who’ve never built anything before based on these activities. Do yourself a favor, stop doing anything that isn’t directly about building and delivering product to your customers. That’s it.

In case you need a reminder, here’s what you should be doing in the early days of your startup:

  • Building product
  • Shipping product
  • Talking to customers

That’s it. Note that there’s nothing in there about window treatments, coffee machines and stickers. Starting a company is ridiculously hard work, you don’t have the luxury to waste resources at this point - start focusing relentlessly on those above bullet points, and cut everything else out.

Related Posts

Default Yes vs. Default No

Are you and your team members default yes, or default no? One is good for startups, the other not so much.

Check Your Echo Chamber

The people you surround yourself with create your reality. Choose carefully.

Don't Forget the Goal

There's only one thing that matters when you're building software.

How To Get a Job Offer

Want to get a job in the field you love easily? This is how.

Required Reading for All Couples

If you're married, about to get married, or just committed to someone for a long period of time, these three books are absolutely required reading.

I Launched a New Podcast, and I Want You to Call In

I just launched a new podcast called Design By Committee, dedicated to answering your questions about UX, product design, content, strategy and anything else tech.

Shitty Sales Have Made Product Development Harder

Shitty, one-sided sales processes have made product development much more difficult for early stage startups.

Why I'm Cold Emailing You

You might have gotten a cold email from me. Tasteless? Some people think so. Here's why I'm doing it.

How I Found Your Email

I've been cold emailing a lot of people, and many folks are surprised that I found their email. Here's where I dug it up.

Sales is User Research, Undercover