This is hard

Jason Cohen has an old blog post from 2011 where he reveals:

Getting through this slog of a thing that’s a startup — or anything difficult and worthwhile — doesn’t require that you’re always confident or stoic or smart or right or wise.​ It’s about sticking through the tough parts, whatever your personal foibles or weaknesses.​ It’s so easy to stop. There’s so many reasons to stop. And that — stopping — is how most little startups actually fail.​

This is a long, hard road.

The road is long

Your ability to launch a product relies on hundreds of events in your history:

  • The people you know

  • ​The skills you've learned​

  • The people who know you

  • The content you've produced

  • The product instincts you've honed​

  • The financial decisions you've made

  • The professional expertise you've developed

It takes time for all these pieces to fall in place.

Even when you're ​finally in a position to build something, it takes time to:

  • Recognize a need in the market

  • Develop a hypothesis

  • Test your hypothesis

  • ​Build an initial app

  • Find first users

  • Iterate

  • Etc..

And of course, even when you finally get some traction, you're pursuing the next steps:

  • Adjusting your pricing

  • Finding true product/market fit

  • Finding scalable marketing channels

  • Increasing MRR to the point where you can go full-time

The lesson, of course, is that you've never truly made it.

The road is long, and the road is hard.

So, how do you go the distance?

Jason is right. Regardless of where you're at in the journey, your success depends on "sticking through the tough parts."

So how do you keep going, even when you want to quit?

"Unless you're one of these incredibly highly motivated people, you're not going to finish. Most people need some combination of access to information, and access to support." - Mitch Kapor

In North America, we've idolized the "lone entrepreneur" who uses their own wits, intelligence, and moxy to achieve success.

That's how I started off, in 2008. I set out to learn everything I could about building products people want. I bought books. Read blog posts. Listened to podcasts. Took courses. I went to conferences.

I made some progress, but it was hard. I didn't have folks I could talk with regularly (and honestly) about the things I was struggling with.

So in 2013, I started an experiment: a community for indie makers.

It started as a Campfire chat, with just thirty members. Since then, it's grown to about ~380 lifetime members, and includes a private Slack, forums, and live events.

Occasionally, we'll hang out in real life too. Here's a group of us in Vegas at an escape room:

This "watercooler for bootstrappers" has now been running for 5 years.

Members use it as a safe place to talk about their struggles, announce a launch, ask questions, and celebrate small wins:

Here's something else that's helped: since 2014, I've had a regular monthly phone call with Paul Jarvis and Jarrod Drysdale. These guys have seen me at my best (and my worst).

Also: it's good to have a co-founder! Partnering with Jon Buda on Transistor has been one of the best decisions I've made. My friend Allan Branch says "A good partner makes your ideas better." I've definitely felt that with Jon.

It's hard to show up every day, by yourself. When there's no one to cheer you on and no one to be accountable to, it's easier to give up.

To go the distance, get people in your corner!

Justin Jackson

Published on December 21st, 2018
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