By Étienne Garbugli | January 2, 2019 | 0 Comment
It’s easy to spin a negative into a positive.
It’s also easy to make a positive sound negative.
But there’s really no point in doing a year-end review and bury the facts under spun positives, so here goes the hard truth:
2018 is the year during which I worked the most, but have the least to show for it.
This while my costs grew by 30%. 😬
On the positives…
Learning Rate – 2018 Growth & Learning
On the negatives…
“A founder is spending 60 months of their best years in their startup (instead of their career). That is a substantial upfront investment; it’s like a seed round, but instead of money, it’s your life.” – Des Traynor, Intercom Co-Founder
The easiest thing to do is to do what most people are doing.
It minimizes social costs, the need for explaining, and, if it means getting a full-time job, you often get to reclaim some of your time.
This can be great, but it’s not the game I’m playing.
My goals are:
The last two can, almost exclusively, be achieved with the path I’m on.
Obviously, if my game was revenue-maximization I’d be failing by a mile, but thankfully, it’s not.
“One of the hardest things to do in the world is to turn down money.” – Ryan Holiday, Author
The flip side of independence is that you end up having to make all of the decisions, and that, by making all the decisions, you have to bear 100% of the cost of those decisions, good or bad.
This means that, until you start hiring staff, any task you take on has a cost on your entire business (distraction or opportunity cost).
Building something new is extremely costly.
Although it takes roughly 40 hours per month for me to maintain the business around Lean B2B, maintenance is not growth. The time I spent on Highlights was not spent on Lean B2B, my main source of income.
This means one business grew at the cost of the other.
If nothing else, this year taught me resilience.
Resilience in the face of indifference. Resilience in the face of major pivots. And resilience in the face of a partner leaving.
Amidst the negatives of a partner breakup, opportunities emerge:
The Lean B2B business allows me to play a long-ish game with Highlights. It also allows me to see first-hand the value of having a portfolio of products (e.g. a book, a course, an app, a game, etc).
There just needs to be overlap between the different products’s audiences.
It worked with the Lean B2B community (now defunct); it didn’t with the Control Alt Deceit game (different customers).
Based on what I’ve seen in 2018, I think Highlights can add to my portfolio; a key part of my strategy in 2019.
“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” – Stephen Covey, Best-Selling Author
Working hard is no replacement for working smart.
When I look back at this past year, there’s a lot of things I did that didn’t have much of an impact. Although some of those things led to important insights, or were just completely unavoidable, in 2019 I want to significantly improve my ability to identify the 20% that truly drives results.
By slowing things down and re-investing energies in the most impactful opportunities, I should be able to:
I’m excited to hit the road again (Balkans!), focus on financial independence, and reclaim my time. The mitigated successes of 2018 should help me see the opportunities in 2019 a bit more clearly.
Etienne works at the intersection of Technology, Product Design and Marketing. He’s a three-time Startup Founder, a five-time entrepreneur, and a UX research expert. Etienne is also the Author of Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want. Lean B2B is a framework used by thousands of entrepreneurs & innovators to reduce the risk of their B2B ventures.