Ash inspired me, but I wasn’t willing to commit to a “real” startup … there’s something I really want to learn, but any effort has to fit into the constraint that it can’t eat up time that I’d rather spend with Gus and Paula. I’m also not willing to sacrifice our financial lifestyle to go all-in – no ramen-noodle startups for me.
After talking about the subject with my boss, he sent me a link to an article by Amy Hoy. I heard Amy give a talk at MicroConf a few years ago – I remember being very impressed with her no-bullshit approach to business, but I hadn’t thought about it in a while.
Along with her own successful SaaS business, Amy runs courses to teach people like me how to build no-bullshit businesses. Like most people, my challenge isn’t knowledge – it’s action and experience. I simply don’t have the experience of selling something I’ve made for money. If I ever want to build a sustainable business, I need that basic experience. I don’t know if I ever will build a “big” business, but I still want that basic experience!
Amy implores her readers to start small … build something absolutely tiny so that you can gain experience with all the other parts of the business – the parts that aren’t building the actual product. Building the product is the fun part – most creative types like me need to work on all the other parts (finding customers, exchanging value for money, supporting people, etc.).
Consistency is the name of the game here. Amy calls it “stacking bricks” – if I commit to consistent work on a tiny business, then before long, I’ll build on that success to make a slightly less tiny business. Eventually, I’ll build something substantial … but even if I never reach that point, I’ll be learning things I want to learn (it’s another form of practice).
After reading a bunch of Amy’s writing, I spent a few evenings making a site to help people choose a camera and paid about a buck a day to send some AdWords traffic to the “best for sports page” (yes! go there!) . When anyone clicks on the Amazon links and buys a camera, I make a few bucks (I got the idea for that kind of project from Noah Kagan, who also preaches small progress toward business-building … I also really like cameras). I ended up spending about $80 and have brought in $20 so far. Not a huge success, obviously, but I’ve already learned a ton – and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than business school. Most importantly, it’s not too big of a commitment – I’m just pulling from a tiny bit of my relaxation time that I’d otherwise probably spend reading Gizmodo or ESPN.
Just this week, Amy came out with a new approach that she’s promoting – her year of hustle. It’s even more prescriptive about the steps to build a tiny business. I trust her, so I’m going to do what she says. I’ll keep you posted.