Do you really need it?

Insights from a sales pitch I encountered on my run today.

December 18, 2019

I go on a run in the morning every Monday-Friday. I frequently pass by a woman who always seems to be loading her kids in her car for school as I run by her house. As she got in the car, she rolled down her window and said, "you should do crossfit!"

My response, "I like to keep it minimal."

What she doesn't know is that I've been to crossfit gyms before. They are expensive and truth be told, the workouts are outrageously intense. Could I do them? Maybe. But that's beside the point. The point is that it is a step I'm not ready to take and taking it would do me more harm than good. Crossfit is designed for people who are looking to go to the extremes of human fitness. While it certainly won't take me there (yet), I've got a good routine that is affordable, keeps me in shape, and that is patiently scalable.

The same principle applies to startups and developing a brand. While your brand is always there, since it's the gut feeling someone has toward your startup, you do not need a fully-fleshed out brand from the get-go. You don't need to hire a full-time designer, you don't need a flawless identity system, and you don't even need a formalized brand strategy to get started. There are many reasons for this but here would be the top three:

  1. The definition of your brand will change with time,
    especially within the first few years of business
  2. You probably don't have the monetary resources needed
    to do it right
  3. You haven't even validated your idea

If you are getting your startup off the ground, you cannot expect that it will be perfect or that you will be successful overnight. It takes time. So when you hear people selling you services like design, SEO, digital marketing, business planning, and the like, ask yourself: "do I really need this to get started?" Chances are the answer is no. Those things are important and, if you can afford to do them, it would be worth it. But you do not need them to get started.

Caveat: this is not an excuse to release something you are morbidly embarrassed by. You should always do the best you can and be honest with yourself about the quality of what you put into the world. But do not bite off more than you can chew and have the fortitude to be patient.

More you say?

Burst into Flames

What a website launch can teach you about preparation.

2.11.2020

The Startup San Diego team and I launched the new San Diego Startup Week website yesterday. We thought we'd covered everything. We had tested user flows, we'd checked all of our links, but we could not have anticipated one thing: how much engagement we got.

For an hour we had unresponsive voting features because our automation service was at max capacity (and we'd already beefed it up).

However, this paled in comparison to the fact that we had record breaking numbers of users, ticket sales, etc. Small bump int he grander narrative.

The point is this:
you can plan for everything in the world for your brand, a new website, etc. but you will not burst into flames from having small bumps in the road.

read more

Shift Your Perspective

What a week of being a zombie can teach you about UX.

2.6.2020

I got pretty sick this week.

Worst I've felt in over a year.

Today is the first day that I don't feel like complete shit, though still not 100%. It really sucks because the first week of this month was packed with 6 appointments and meetings with others. Even if you're sick, you still feel the need to at least try and get out there because meeting other people is important, especially in business. I'd wake up each day hoping I'd feel better, but I was still hacking up lungs and blowing outrageous amounts of gunk from my nose until this afternoon.

What I thought about was this: I could get out there and meet people regardless of how I was feeling, but it wouldn't have been a pleasant experience for the other people involved.

Could you imagine being on the other side of the table as I coughed to the point of puking (that actually happened)? Or seeing globs of snot drip onto my mustache? It'd be freaking disgusting.

Here's the thing:
While it might seem heroic and dignified to go at the day regardless of how I'm feeling, the fact that it would've been awful for someone else to endure my company is what matters more. It's about them, not me.

Stuck on whether or not you should pursue a new product, feature, or campaign for your brand? Think about the person on the other end, it'll give you a better sense of direction.

read more