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

How to Onboard a Product Designer

If you're bringing a product designer or UX designer in to help you design your product, there's a bad way to do it, and a good way to do it. Here's how to make sure you're doing it right.

Review: Slicing Pie

Slicing Pie is a new way to think about company equity splits, and it blows away the old methods you've probably used.

When Troubleshooting, Follow the Process!

When you're trying to troubleshoot something - a car that won't start, or a business that isn't working - follow the right process.

The Art of Finding a Way

Being resourceful and relentless is one of the keys to being successful (and a great shipper). When in doubt, find a way.

Why I Have a Cocktail at 3:30 Every Day

Every day at 3:30, I stop what I'm doing and have a cocktail. It's become an incredibly important part of my daily routine.

Everyone In a Startup Should Have This Skill

You know you need technical skills to build the product, and sales skills to sell it, but does your team have this critical skill?

Doing Things Makes You Feel Better

If you're feeling down, depressed or just in a blah mood, do something. Anything. Make a thing, clean a room. Action makes you feel better.

Review: Auth0

Auth0 is a service that provides identity as a service, so you never have to build authentication again. Here, I lay out the good and the bad.

Why I Unfollowed Everyone on Twitter

I unfollowed everyone (~4,500 people) on Twitter. Here's why I'd do such an insane thing.

How to Turn Off Facebook Live Notifications

Facebook Live is cool, but the constant notifications about new videos aren't. Here's how to turn them off and get some peace.