November was a mixed bag.
Though I wasn’t extremely disciplined, I made big strides in my projects.
This reaffirmed the importance of focusing on your biggest levers. Small tasks don’t move the needle.
Still, I need to be more diligent. The past month reminded me that I’m leaving potential on the table otherwise.
These were my goals for the month:
- Physical Goods: Prepare shipment for one order and reach out to 100 new customers.
- Software Marketplace: Acquire 10 leads organically through a repeatable process.
- AI QR Codes: Get 1 paying customer.
- Never Miss Twice: Reach out to 3 other potential partners.
- Habit Gym: Launch the mobile app. (Weekend-only)
Here’s how it went.
Context: I’m validating a physical goods business in a growing industry where we can compete with incumbents on price.
Goal: Prepare shipment for one order and reach out to 100 new customers.
We completed our first delivery! As a result, we have a clearer picture of the unit economics.
I’m optimistic about our future. The business seems more than viable. Even if this doesn’t translate to a larger order, it gave us the confidence to pursue the venture more seriously.
I’ve already begun laying the groundwork for our sales pipeline. I just added 100 new prospects to our email list. The next step is to start cold calls, physical outreach and attending trade shows (it’s B2B).
I even dabbled in door-to-door sales for a day. I picked a neighborhood and visited all the businesses that use a competitor’s product. This paid huge dividends. Though it’s not as scalable as email, the response rate was much higher. We learned a lot about our customers’ needs and got useful leads.
I also learned about myself in the process. I realized that I love working with other people, whether it’s co-founders (building together is beautiful) or customers (exposure to new ideas and industries scratches my curiosity itch).
I was missing this in Habit Gym as a solopreneur of an internet business. It’s challenging to develop real relationships with your customers when your only mode of communication is digital and asynchronous.
In a physical goods business, however, everything is tangible: the product and the relationships. I really enjoy this.
This was a core reason for me becoming an entrepreneur. I didn’t just want freedom of time, but the freedom to build relationships with whoever I like. A 9-5 job doesn’t offer that. You don’t get to pick your coworkers.
On the other hand, I saw my dad run his own business and form close bonds with his customers. To this day, they’re his closest friends. We can travel anywhere in the country and he’ll have a customer who just insists that he come over for dinner.
That’s the life I want to build - where work and play blend together.
Anyway, back to the business! Overall, it feels like we’re turning a corner. We started small and now have the validation to ramp up our efforts. This means a strong brand, web presence and broader outreach.
It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I’m always concerned: what if we’re overreaching?
But that’s the game. It’s always a leap of faith to jump to the next level. I’ve concluded that you can only get comfortable with risk, not eliminate it.
At the end of the day, how much do I really have to lose? I’m in control of the time and money I put into this. As long as I’m making calculated bets, I’ll be fine.
Lesson: Risk is omnipresent. You can only get comfortable with it, not eliminate it.
Context: I’m validating a software marketplace for a high-ticket service.
Goal: Acquire 10 leads organically through a repeatable process.
The crux of our goal was to develop a social media strategy that works. Yes, much easier said than done.
When we sat down to do it, we were met with internal resistance. We just didn’t want to start. It felt like a chore.
So, we took a hard look at ourselves and concluded that the feeling was never going to go away. Social media just didn’t excite us. It wasn’t our core competency or a skillset we were interested in building.
Other people were leagues ahead of us and actually enjoyed it. Why not work with them and double down on our unique strengths - operations and technology?
So, we trashed the original goal and went in another direction. We decided to shop the product around to creators with our target audience.
To put it simply, we were looking for the Mr. Beast to our Feastables. This benefits both of us: the creator gets equity without the hassle of operating a business and we get instant access to our desired customer base. Synergy.
This approach worked out. We’re in early talks with a partner who is a perfect fit on paper: has our target demographic, creates relevant content and is interested in building this together.
It’s a promising avenue that I’m excited to explore further. At the very least, we’ll learn what it takes for the creator-operator model to succeed.
Lesson: Focus on your core competency. Do what you do best and work with others to fill the gaps.
AI QR Codes
Goal: Get 1 paying customer.
I pitched this idea to 10+ businesses. Many of them were impressed, but no one bit. They didn’t even follow up or ask for a price. This was all the evidence I needed.
To be fair, I half-expected this. The product is genuinely innovative, but it’s ultimately a vitamin (not a painkiller).
I won’t be continuing this following month. I still believe there’s some potential (companies hire my partner for custom work), but it’s not enough to justify prioritizing it over my other projects given their traction.
- Focus on what is working. Don’t have FOMO. Prioritize the biggest opportunity.
- Size matters. Just because there is a market doesn’t mean it’s big enough. The same question holds for Habit Gym: how much bigger can it really get?
Never Miss Twice
Goal: Reach out to 3 other potential partners.
I reached out to 3 prospective partners and got no response. That’s enough signal for me to move on.
This is the benefit of creating a true MVP (emphasis on minimum). I got to test out the idea without building it out entirely. This saved me a lot of time. When it didn’t gain traction, I could ditch it painlessly without worrying about the sunk cost.
Even though it didn’t pan out, I consider this a victory. I invalidated quickly, allowing me to focus on other ventures.
Lesson: Validate quickly. Faster iteration speed means more shots on goal.
Goal: Launch the mobile app. (Weekend-only)
I didn’t work on this at all. My weekends were busy with people visiting.
Unlike QR Art and Never Miss Twice, I’m not ready to give this project up yet. It’s possible that I’m too attached, but I still believe in the mission and its potential to transform lives.
Especially with recent AI developments, there’s a real opportunity to do self-coaching with LLMs. Think a motivational partner that holds you accountable, helps you set goals and provides actionable advice.
That being said, I don’t have time to dedicate to this personally. At the same time, I want to see it grow.
So, I’m going to recruit a partner this month. The model has worked out well for other projects and it should be doable here since Habit Gym has already been validated.
If you’re interested in helping out, let me know!
These were my effectiveness goals:
- Act with urgency towards your goal.
- No distractions.
- No naps over 18 minutes.
Here’s how it went.
I didn’t act with urgency. I moved slowly. I dilly-dallied, being distracted by the Internet, people visiting or relatively unimportant tasks.
However, I still moved the needle on my major priorities. This is what saved my month. It goes to show how much progress you can make if you simply focus on the right things.
Still, I need to do more. I’m leaving potential on the table and don’t want my complacency to catch up to me.
Lesson: Focus on the big levers. Everything else pales in comparison.
I succumbed to unproductive distractions in bursts. When my blockers were off, I wasted a lot of time doom-scrolling. This would go on for days until I snapped out of it and turned the blockers back on. I’d then return to being productive until the cycle repeated again.
I also spent a lot of time with loved ones who were visiting. The idea was to only do it on weeknights and weekends, but it bled into working hours too. I need to get a handle on this.
While relationships are extremely important to me, so are my ventures. I must be ruthlessly disciplined in protecting my work hours and flow to achieve my goals. Otherwise, I’d be sacrificing one for the other. I’m sure my family and friends wouldn’t want that either.
- Break the flow. Turn on blockers every day to nip the procrastination cycle in the bud.
- Protect your time. Create strict boundaries so time for one thing doesn’t eat into another.
I had mixed results with napping. Some days, I didn’t nap at all or kept it short. On others, I snoozed for an hour.
I’m not proud of this and want to do better next month.
Health + Happiness
These were my health and happiness goals:
- Sleep consistently early.
- Stay hydrated.
I successfully shifted my body clock. I got tired earlier. However, I didn’t always listen to it and ended up staying up past my bedtime.
Still, it’s a step in the right direction. I just need to be more disciplined at going to bed when I’m tired and making fewer exceptions in my schedule.
I didn’t do a great job of staying hydrated. I want to do better next month.
My goals for December are:
- Physical Goods: Plan for January visits. Gather 100 leads and develop marketing materials for orders and door-to-door sales.
- Software Marketplace: Define MVP for influencer launch, including hypotheses and success metrics.
- Habit Gym: Recruit partner(s) to do active development and marketing.
- Act with urgency.
- Establish strict work times.
- No naps over 18 minutes.
- Turn off blockers every day.
- Health + Happiness
- Sleep consistently early.
- Stay hydrated.
This post took redacted minutes to write.
P.S: You can find more of my thoughts on Twitter @_suketk.