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Every person falls into one of three buckets:
Currently pursuing a passion or side project
Wants to pursue a passion or side project
Today I wanted to share some lessons I’ve learned since starting a newsletter. Regardless of what bucket you’re in, you can apply these 5 things.
Gain Validation By Being Public
If you’re trying to build a business, you’ll never be successful if people don’t know about it. There are exactly zero examples of people who built success in a bubble without public exposure. By talking about what you’re trying to accomplish and publicly taking action on that goal in your daily interactions and on the internet, you will naturally attract people who are interested in that subject OR are interested in helping you succeed.
I’ve been studying finance in my undergrad for the last two years. My close friends and family will attest to the fact that any time that topic comes up in conversation, my eyes glisten a little and I’m eager to share my knowledge. They know it’s a subject I know and am passionate about. Guess how many people have asked me for financial input in those two years. Zero.
Today marks 21 weeks of writing this newsletter. Since launching, I’ve had the privilege of helping build budgets, offer retirement advice, and opening the door to general financial conversations - all from people who approached me.
Building a product publicly gives you instant validation as a source on the subject. Don’t build in the dark.
Know The Problem
Good businesses and products always solve a problem. Anything that doesn’t solve a problem will be short lived. This means that you need to determine if the problem you’re trying to solve is being addressed by what you’re doing.
I started writing this newsletter as a way to share financial advice and best practices. I wanted to do that because the conversations I was having around finance indicated that people didn’t know things about budgeting, credit, and investing that I thought were important.
What I’ve come to realize is that the knowledge isn’t the problem. I see this because I will write on a subject and not notice any change occur from people I know that read. This points me to one of two things. Either what I’m writing isn’t distilled/practical enough OR the knowledge was never the problem in the first place.
This drives me to continue improving my writing but also evaluate the solution. The lack of implementation tells me that the problem lies more-so with the application of knowledge rather than the knowledge itself.
While it’s discouraging to feel defeat in addressing the problem, what it’s done is get me closer to solving the problem. Recently I’ve considered whether this is right format to help people. If it isn’t, I’ll have gained knowledge about the space and can make a more informed decision about how better to go about it.
Continuously evaluate how your offering solves the problem you set out to tackle. If it isn’t, it either wasn’t a problem in the first place or your product isn’t right yet.
Close The Feedback Loop
To get you closer to understanding whether the problem is being solved, you need to close the feedback loop. (Usually) No one that uses your product or service will write you a cold email and explain how much they love your product, how it could be improved, or even general feedback. This makes it feel like you’re screaming into an abyss and no one is answering or cares about what you’re doing. To solve this, go get it from them.
Every form of feedback looks different and requires experimentation. For example, you email every customer who bought your product a survey. A good way to judge the success of that feedback loop is how many people open the email and then how many people actually fill it out. If people open but don’t participate, your survey might need work but more than likely that isn’t the right way to get feedback.
I’ve found the most success asking people for their thoughts on my newsletter in person. This works better than offering a survey or a link in the newsletter because that’s additional friction for the reader.
Find out how you can get the most amount of feedback on your offering and double down on that.
You’ll Never “Have The Time”
I’ve never met a single person that isn’t interested in somehow turning their passionate ‘side project’ into their full time gig. The number one excuse? Don’t have the time. I’m here today to tell you that you’ll never have the time.
When wanting to start a side project or business, there’s a misconception that everything needs to be perfect before you can start. The truth of it is that you’ll never start if that’s how you think. Creating a habit of working on your passion for even small amount of time each day will create momentum. Everyone can work on something they love for 15 minutes a day.
James Clear talks about small gains in his writing on continuous improvement. This graphic shows what a year of 1% improvements will yield.
Everyone has the time for what’s important to them. Make sure your actions are a reflection of your priorities.
You Have Value
Regardless of whether you realize it or not, you have unique value that is worth something. The sum of your experiences and knowledge creates a cocktail of perspective that only you have. There are people in the world wanting to hear that perspective.
In old times, having a unique perspective meant nothing. If Picasso had grown up in a town that only cared about farming, his talents and abilities would have gone to waste. The internet provides a vehicle to find the people in the world that are interested in what you have to say.
Even if your experience is specific, out of 8 billion people in the world, there’s going to be some that want to hear it. In fact, the more specific you are, the more radical those people will be because of how unique that experience is.
The takeaway here is that you already have the perspective, its just a matter of packaging that knowledge into something usable and finding the people who need and want to hear it.
I hope these lessons were helpful and encouraging. Thanks for reading, we’ll talk next week.