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.

Book Review: Winning Through Intimidation

If you’ve ever been frustrated by experts recommending positive thinking, you’re not alone.

Traditional Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work

In business it can be incredibly difficult to maintain so called “positivity”. Most deals fall through, and you’re consistently failing as you’re trying new things.

Enter the business classic: Winning Through Intimidation. (Now published as To Be or Not To Be Intimidated)

Sustain Positive Thinking Through Assumed Negative Results

In the very first chapter, Robert Ringer addresses this most basic issue for entrepreneurs.

He recommends assuming a negative result when entering into any negotiation. And the fact remains, most business deals don’t work. So assuming failure is an easy way to avoid letdowns, while facing a reality doing of business. Most people will waste your time.

Four Cornerstones of a Winning Mindset

  • Relativity – Not one person says they’re a dishonest person, and yet there are many dishonest people. Weigh all facts relatively when deciding on a course of action.
  • Relevance – Only focus on those things immediately relevant to boosting your income and achieving your business goals. Cut everything else away
  • Aim High – Ringer refers to this as Mortality Theory. Our time on earth is limited, and we might as well aim high, and take the largest piece as possible, rather than crawling our way up through the ranks.
  • Keep Perspective – aka Ice Ball Theory. Keep perspective, because eventually the entire world will become an Ice Ball when the sun burns out. Be willing to walk away from deals that don’t work, and be willing to laugh at the ridiculous nature of humans.

Assume a Strong Posture

In the book, Ringer initially struggled to close even the smallest of deals. He blames this on being ignorant of the true nature of his deals. He later assumes everyone is out to cheat his commission, and structures his deals for his ultimate protection from the beginning.

This means getting proper legal documentation, all appropriate licenses, using certified mail on all correspondence, and having an attorney present at closings.

Move Forward Regardless of Naysayers

Ringer makes the case for what he calls the “Leapfrog Theory”. We shouldn’t waste our time waiting for permission to work at the top of our chosen fields. Instead, we must declare our position at whatever level we deserve.

Results Are Inversely Proportionate to the Level We Are Intimidated

Your strength and posture are determined by the amount you are intimidated by other people. If you think you are “only a freelancer”, and position yourself as such, you will see very little results. If you position yourself as “the best solution provider”, and can back that posture up, you will see immediate results.

Takeaway: Always ask what can be done to improve and protect your posture before entering negotiations.