No Shortcuts - LAUNCH IT

The best way to get an understanding about your new business is to get it out to the people.  Launch it!  That is the best possible feedback that you can receive.  Your co-workers, investors, friends and mom all have thoughts. They don't really  know though.  The consumer is the ultimate decider.  

The constant theorizing, tweaking, testing, thinking and talking all delay LAUNCH.  There is need for some of that as your develop the product, but it passes a point where it just gets counterproductive.  I think the more academic the people are the more they struggle with this.  Let's think of every possible thing and have a plan IF it happens.  Overthinking at it's finest. 

I read a funny quote that essentially stated that the best entrepreneurs are B students because they aren't smart enough to know how bad their idea is.  They just launch it!  Some of the ideas end up being great and they achieve success.  An A student might have just squeezed the idea to death and never got it to market.  Or cut it down so much that it lost it's appeal. 

This is obviously a subjective call because every person's business is different.  I do think less thinking wins the day though.  Let the consumer experience the product and adjust from there.  You'll quickly see where the issues you and you fix them.  Some of the things you thought would be issues just weren't.  Some things you didn't foresee ended up being issues.  Great to know!

The startup needs momentum.  You need wins (like actually launching).  You need feedback.  You take the feedback and adjust.  That is the consumer feedback loop that will lead to success. 

You never enter the loop if you never launch.  

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No Shortcuts - Be Honest With Your Partner

Having your own startup is pretty much like birthing a child.  It's that level of commitment.  Time.  Money.  Mental energy.  Stress.  It's an always on type of situation and requires sacrifice.  

If you are single and doing a startup, then you can do 100%.  If you are in a relationship, then your partner is now part of the deal.  The question is how much do you share as your relationship is getting going?  Do you shift and spend more time with that person and neglect the startup a bit?  Do you talk about your startup or would that come across as self-centered?  Do you share your financial situation and how much you have tied up in your business?  

It's complicated. 

You share too much and the person might think you're an unstable psycho.  You share too little and then you setup that person for an ugly surprise when you shift back into startup mode.  You are MIA.  Your finances aren't what she thought.  You start talking about your business WAY more.  She then realizes too late that you're an unstable psycho.  ha.  

I've done this poorly.  I've also done it well.  When I look back I realize I was not fair to my partners in that I didn't share enough.  I was too chill about Sloane.  Didn't talk it too much.  It was just a "side thing".  I didn't get into the deeper reasons why I wanted to do it and succeed.  I didn't get into how financially draining it could be as you deal with the ups and downs.  

I then was shocked when I didn't feel like my partners didn't support my business like I needed.  Did they realize how hard this was?  Did they realize the little things that constantly go wrong?  No.  They didn't because I didn't tell them as we started dating.  Why bore them with "business stuff"??

I also wasn't honest financially.  During the courtship period you're going on trips, going to nice dinners and kind of loose with money.  You just want your partner to be happy.  That's just not startup life!  You can't be spending money loosely.  You have to be conservative.  Put your own skin in the game.  When that skin is going towards nice bottles of wine things get bad.  

The solution is to be honest.  Tell your partner as the dates add up about your business.  What it's REALLY like.  What you REALLY want to do with it long term.  What it REALLY takes daily.  How much time you REALLY put in.  You have to this.  If the person doesn't like it, then it would be doomed anyway.  If the person finds it fascinating and wants to be a part of the journey, then you found yourself someone special.

This startup game is hard.  The odds are against you.  You need to have a partner that supports matter what.  If you have a leach for a partner, then the odds of making it are cut drastically.  Your mental game needs to be strong, so having a loving and supportive person by your side is critical.  

Trust me.  I learned this the hard way multiple times.  Be honest.  

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No Shortcuts - Tell Everyone vs Tell No One

Starting your own business is exciting.  You get a ton of energy at the beginning to tackle this huge challenge.  You are hopeful things start smooth and stay smooth.  Your product is a hit and you make a lot of money.  That sounds incredible! 

The reality is that it pretty much never goes like that.  That brings up the question on whether you should tell everyone you know what you're up to or keep things under wraps a bit as you grind.  You want to tell people to share the excitement, but you don't want to overhype what you're up to and then feel the judgement from others later.  

For Sloane I think we took a middle route, which I think has allowed for us to get the support we need while avoiding the constant questions that come up about how the business is going.  Those questions are well meaning, but when you are grinding hard and feeling like you're trying to stay above water those questions from your aunt aren't too fun to answer.  

At the beginning you need some support and positive energy.  People to try your product.  People to invest.  People to support your Kickstarter campaign.  People who might know people for early advice.  I remember I sent an individual note to everyone I knew on Facebook telling them about our Kickstarter.  Every dollar mattered for that, so needed to let the world know.  

In the beginning I would talk about Sloane to a broader group and got nice connections to website designers, brand experts, lawyers, accountants, etc.  Super helpful!  Once we got the base solidified I wasn't as vocal broadly.  A big part was because I had a full time job and didn't want there to be a question of my allegiance.  If I was spouting off about Sloane all the time, then people would wonder what my plans are.  

I would talk about Sloane to a smaller group of people who I trusted and would provide me with the advice I needed.  I would put my head down and then just execute.  Day after day.  Getting your company up and running talks way longer than you think.  It obviously takes even longer when you're doing it as a side hustle.  Patience is really important because it's so easy to get antsy and rush things.  

That issue is made even more intense if everyone is asking you how things are going.  Is the website up?  How are sales?  What?  No sales yet?  What are you guys doing?? Enter stress and other people's expectations.  You don't need that stuff clogging your mind as you are trying to build.  

Confidence in your business is needed to succeed.  You have to be one of the most optimistic people out there.  Arrogance and over-confidence are not good traits.  And they are often closely tied with confidence.  It's a balancing act that often entrepreneurship just teaches you when you're in the trenches.  You soon realize you might not be as smart as you thought or this might not happen as soon as you thought.  

That feeling is ok and for the strongest people it just motivates them more.  This isn't easy and they will just grind until they get it.  That's what it takes.  

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No Shortcuts - No TV

I get a lot of questions about how I can have enough time for a side business when I have a demanding full time job.  Time seems like a very hard thing for people to control.....and it is!  

Before Sloane I watched a lot of TV.  First 48 was my binge watching show.  I could NOT just watch one episode.  Physically impossible to turn off the TV.  When I see the show pop up on my guide today I still get some sort of dopamine rush.  I'd watch reruns with the same intensity as a new episode.  

All that TV time added up to lots of hours.  I'd say 2 hours of TV time a day.  When I look back I would say I was entertained, but it wasn't adding much to my life.  If you do the math the 2 hours a day means 10 hours a work week.....and 14 hours for the full week.  I think I watched even more TV on the weekend, so that is a conservative number.  Over a month that is 56 hours!  56 HOURS!!  Just sitting on my butt watching.  

When I moved to Cincinnati to start at P&G I decided to challenge myself and not get a TV.  I said the minute I REALLY needed one I'd just go to Best Buy and get one.  I went 5 years without a TV.  I missed First 48 and all the sports I love.  What I found was that I actually got more enjoyment transitioning those hours into Sloane and learning at work.  

The only reason I got a TV after 5 years was the cable company called and said that I could get cable and internet for less than what I was currently paying for internet.  I ended up getting TV, but barely watched it.  I was hooked on spending my time learning and growing.  

Look at how you spend your time.  There are hours there.  My current battle is fighting my phone screen time.  I think there is a lot of time there I could get back.  It's a hard process to break habits.  Start small and see the benefits.  

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