How to Build Momentum

When I began my first startup, I spent a month building out the software, focusing exclusively on building a top notch product. As I came close to finishing, I anticipated thousands of users signing up and beginning to use it right away.

I was wrong.

Always Be Talking

My launch came, and I was featured on a few sites. I got fifty users, but zero people stayed around to actually use the software. Because I didn’t build a relationship with my potential customers before launching, I began scrambling to find people.

Later I realized I got the cart before the horse.

Building the audience is just as big of a problem as building the software. Building an audience takes just as much time and intelligence as building software.

Build an Audience First, Keep Building It

The agile approach to building software can also be applied to building an audience. Simply begin writing, sharing what works for your company, before your product is built. Genuinely help people with all your resources.

Begin thinking in terms of cycles. Your business improves in increments: code, reach, and customer satisfaction.

You know things are improving by measuring them.

Be Everywhere From the Beginning

Working with your head in the technology is no way to begin a business.

You must be actively pursuing potential clients, building relationships with partners, talking with your customers. There is a business cycle, and it starts immediately.

By talking with your customers while the product is being built, you know exactly what needs to be built and what doesn’t. With my current startup I’ve already taken checks from clients, and haven’t had to bootstrap a cent out of pocket.

The promotional cycle doesn’t end when your product launches, just as it doesn’t begin when your product launches.

Measure Everything, Keep What Works

Measure everything, find what’s working, and keep building from there. Remember the 80/20 rule. You will get the majority of your results from a few ideas, usually ones that seemed unimportant at first.

Apply the scientific method to every aspect of your business. You can only improve what you measure, so measure everything. I have it on good word that Facebook indeed keeps everything, including a count of how many times you look at each individual profile.

This is the level of detail necessary to know what’s working.

In Defense of Ruthlessness

Entrepreneurs create new realities. We dream new worlds, define boundaries, and then try to convince other people to live within them. We seduce our customers into believing in the benefits of our company’s world.

Everyone Is Attempting to Seduce You

No matter what aspect of your life, there is someone trying to get you to fill a role that is convenient for them. Entrepreneurs and business owners in general must be aware of what roles they fill for other people. They are in effect, systems designers, who are constantly watching and creating seductive new worlds.

As a result they must protect their time, capital, and focus at all times.

Accept Reality and Results, Not Their Models of Reality

Understand, running a business is about setting up a scientific method about what works.

We don’t have time to theorize about the morality or immorality of our actions. We just pursue profits first, because that’s what the game we play is about.

Business is a Power Game

We’ve been plagued with war for all of human history. Since the atomic bomb, we have been both blessed and cursed by mutually assured destruction. This means that we can’t fight big wars anymore, because everyone will die.

Instead, we now fight for redistribution of power through businesses. Business is the new proxy war. That is a good thing.

Play According the Dynamics of Power

It would be nice to be able to do business on a handshake alone. But that ignores the real dynamics of business. People do what they think they can get away with.

When I first began freelancing, I was ignorant to the dynamics of power. I worked with people based on handshakes. And I got screwed.

Later I learned, you must play according to the dynamics of the game. I began asking for major payment up front (skin in the game), maintained control of servers (last-resort power), and insisted on signed contracts (intimidation). This increased my bargaining power, and virtually guaranteed I got paid.

You Must Acquire and Defend Your Position Ruthlessly

This is what Nietzsche meant by his campaign against morality. There are different sets of morality appropriate for different situations. If the game of business is a proxy for the acquisition of power, play with the right set of rules.

Play with the rules that put your business’ existence first.

Join the Battle for Capital

This is an exciting time to live. We can compete globally for a piece of the capital pie, without killing one another. And everyone’s got incredibly equal access to information, making humanity’s innovation and creativity more impressive than ever before in history.