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.

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