Though I slowed down in October, I’m still moving in the right direction.
This was mostly expected since I was away for 3 weeks visiting friends and family. It was a worthwhile tradeoff: what I lost in work velocity, I made up for in fulfillment. My trip to the West Coast was full of beautiful moments with loved ones.
But as always, there were a few things I could’ve done better. Let’s dive in.
These were my goals for the month:
- Physical goods: Fulfill one order from start to finish.
- Software marketplace: Process a payment through our platform.
- Creator-Led MVP: Launch 1 product.
- Habit Gym: Release app to users. (Best effort)
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: Fulfill one order from start to finish.
We didn’t meet our goal due to logistical challenges.
The good news is that it’s only a temporary delay, not an existential risk. We’re still excited about the opportunity and have conviction that it will work. It just might take longer than expected.
Of course, there’s always some uncertainty. You can’t eliminate it entirely. You don’t know what you don’t know. But you can’t let the fear of the unknown cripple you. The only way out is through.
That’s why our immediate goal is to make our first sale. We believe that will resolve most of our open questions about viability. Once we’ve proven that we can go from zero to one, we’re confident that we can take it from one to n. The first rep is always the hardest.
Obviously, more challenges will arise along the way. That’s just par for the course. But we just have to power through one step at a time, keeping our eyes on the prize.
- Don’t mistake a clear view for a short distance. You may know exactly where you’re going, but underestimate the effort it takes to get there.
- The first rep is always the hardest. It only gets easier with repetition. If you can do it once, you can do it again.
Context: I’m validating a software marketplace for a high-ticket service. We’ll onboard the supply side once we have hot leads.
Goal: Process a payment through our platform.
We acquired a few demand-side leads and gave them for free to the supply-side vendors. We didn’t request payment because we don’t have the volume or reputation to justify it. We want to create relationships with our vendors first.
In retrospect, we got ahead of ourselves with the goal. Our biggest bottleneck is customer acquisition - we don’t have a repeatable way to get new users. We have to focus on solving that before extracting value from the supply side.
Just like with our physical goods business, the time horizon is longer than I originally planned for. We have to pace ourselves accordingly and be ready to move on if we don’t see sufficient signal.
Lesson: Create value first, capture it later.
Context: I’m testing out a new model where I build niche white-labeled software products and partner with a creator in that category for distribution under their brand.
Goal: Launch 1 product.
I successfully launched a new product: Never Miss Twice. It’s based on this viral tweet.
I chose it because it’s the same domain as Habit Gym and a simple concept to explain: get your deposit back if you never miss your habit two days in a row.
Unfortunately, it didn’t gain any traction by itself. I also failed to connect with my target partner: Sahil Bloom.
Despite being a dud, it was totally worth the effort. I didn’t waste any time building a product before there was clear demand. I just made a landing page and when no one bit, I could safely move on.
It also helped me flex the muscle of iterating quickly. Going forward, I can whip up landing pages even faster and move on if there’s no traction.
Plus, I haven’t completely given up on it completely. I’ll continue to follow up and reach out to other creators in the space who would be a good fit.
Lesson: You don’t need a product to validate demand; just a landing page.
Context: The Habit Gym app is in app stores, but back-end changes are necessary to make it usable.
Goal: Release app to users. (Best effort)
I didn’t make any progress on this. That’s ok, because it was best effort.
I have more free time this upcoming month and I want to clean up the user experience out of respect to the active users. Plus, I suspect a functioning mobile app will increase conversion.
This will be a strict weekend-only priority to make sure I’m focused on the other ventures.
AI QR Codes
I started a new project this month: AI-generated QR codes.
It allows you to turn otherwise bland QR codes into beautiful works of art. These are functional and aesthetic.
My hypothesis is that it will be especially valuable in the hospitality industry where every detail is curated.
When I was explaining it to a friend, he observed that it’s unlike any other product I worked on. “Everything else is so rational, this is purely aesthetic.”
That’s exactly what excites me about it. It’s a novel application of bleeding-edge technology. That makes for a compelling demo, which translates to virality and (eventually) sales.
Of course, there’s a risk that it’s a vitamin rather than a painkiller. However, it’s unique enough that companies may want it simply to stand out.
The only way to find out is to pitch fast and iterate. I’m going to start by targeting a specific niche (e.g bars) and adapt as I collect more data.
These were my effectiveness goals:
- Give every day my 100%.
- No naps over 18 minutes.
- No distractions.
I didn’t give every day my 100%. Yet, I focused on my top priorities. Every day, I moved the ball forward on my projects and spent meaningful time with my loved ones. As a result, it didn’t feel that inefficient.
I barely napped, too. This was a function of being away from home and always occupied, either with work or people.
I did waste some time on “junk” distractions like YouTube and Reddit, though. That’s the only thing I would change. When I have sources of true fulfillment in front of me, why am I on my phone?
Vacation-itis is part of the reason. I notice that I switch off when it’s a weekday evening, the weekend or when I’m traveling. I’m not in the mood to work. I deactivate off my app blockers and give in to doom-scrolling.
In general, I can’t keep doing this. I always regret it and life is too short to waste on your phone. I need to act with more urgency and discipline.
Lesson: Act with urgency.
Health and Happiness
These were my health and happiness goals:
- Set a consistent sleep schedule.
- Stay hydrated.
- Read every day.
Despite a busy travel schedule, I slept at a reasonable time most nights. I was heavily influenced by my sister’s schedule. She works NY hours from the West Coast, which means very early mornings.
This inspired me to wake up earlier and get moving with my day. It’s very gratifying to be done with work by 3pm and have the rest of the evening to spend however you like. This would be especially useful in the East Coast, where the sun sets at 4:30pm in the peak of winter. That’s another thing I learned from my trip: daylight is a big contributor to overall happiness.
Similar to the sunrise challenge, watching my sister thrive with her schedule made me realize that it’s doable. This month, I want to continue shifting my bedtime earlier.
Though I wasn’t intentional about hydration, I was decent. I’d like to focus more on this because it makes a noticeable difference in my energy levels.
I also barely read and honestly, I didn’t miss it. However, it would have been a helpful habit to replace the unproductive distractions with. I just didn’t get to it because my Kindle was buried in my bag and my phone was always accessible.
Lesson: Defaults are powerful. Make them work for you.
If you noticed, I reversed the order of my priorities this month.
Earlier, I used to set goals from the bottom up; starting from health and happiness to effectiveness to ventures.
Now, I’m going top down. My ventures come first.
This reflects a deeper insight: the “foundation” is just a means to an end.
I lost sight of this over the years. See, I got caught in the perfectionism trap. I blindly tacked on habits that were considered “productive”: cold showers, meditation, reading, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, they helped. Just not as much as I would’ve thought. For example, weaning off meditation or cold showers barely impacted my progress.
Ultimately, I noticed that my best months happen when I prioritize my ventures instead of those habits. When I’m laser-focused, most of my habits effortlessly fall into place. The rest are clearly unimportant.
So, my primary focus will be on ventures going forward. I’ll still track my foundational habits, but only to the extent that they impact the topline priority: building a business. If they don’t, they will be ignored.
In essence, I’m applying the same principle to my life that I use for business: focus only on the things that matter. Don’t spend too much time perfecting, whether it’s crafting a beautiful landing page or building unbreakable habits. Put yourself out there and learn on the fly. Otherwise, life is just going to pass you by.
My goals for next 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)
- Act with urgency towards your goal.
- No distractions.
- No naps over 18 minutes.
- Health + Happiness
- Sleep consistently early.
- Stay hydrated.
This post took 450 minutes to write. Why I’m telling you this.
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P.S: You can find more of my thoughts on Twitter @_suketk.