StartUp Tip #74: Create memories


You have a choice:

  • Join a company and pursue a low-risk career, pay the bills, retire when you’re 65; or
  • Start your own business, have highs, have lows, flirt with disaster, hopefully make a lot of money, never retire.

The former is a life where the days are hard to distinguish from another.

The latter is a life where you have many memories [good or bad], indelibly etched in your brain.

The life of an entrepreneur is filled with memories, like that of an adventurer.

The entrepreneurship path is littered with glory and failure, both of which are guaranteed to make great stories for you and your grandkids.

You may not make money, but you are guaranteed to make memories.

Good or bad, make your days memorable.

When the sun sets, have more memories than dreams.

We remember memories than days.




Startup Tip #73: Put the past behind you


We have all made mistakes in life.

We all have regrets.

The difference between those that recover to go on to success, and those that don’t, is the ability to put the mistakes behind them and move forward.

Stop wallowing, flagellating, and ruminating.

What is done is done. Triumphs or disasters, wins and failures, successes and mistakes.

Pause, reflect, then move on.

Forgive others.

Most importantly forgive yourself and keep trying your best.

In building something worthwhile, you will make mistakes.

The key is to make new mistakes, not the same mistakes over and over again. Fail forward.

Keep moving forward.

StartUp Tip #72: Negative vs. Positive Marketing


I believe marketing is the work an organisation or person does when they tell a story that resonates with us.

Marketing is the product we make, the service we offer or the life we live.


Marketing [the use of time and money to create a story and spread it] works.

Human beings don’t make rational decisions, they make emotional ones, and we have seen time and again that those decisions are influenced by the time and money spent by marketers.

As a startup entrepreneur, here are two choices to marketing:

  • Do you seek to push to the world an idea that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, that is not true or valid, but you can trick people into buying from you. This is sort of negative way to approach marketing.
  • Or do you build an organisation, build a life and build a career, where when someone knew the truth about your and your business, they will want to work with us. This too is also marketing.

The question you have to ask yourself going forward is:

Will you choose the ethical marketing, that does not involve yelling and manipulating people, seeking attention, or networking your way to the top, spamming people, and lying.

But instead involves weaving a story that resonates to a small group of people, and doing work that matters.

The fact of the matter is that weather or not you choose to be a marketer, you are one.

We are responsible for what we sell and how we sell it. We are responsible for the effects (and the side effects) of our actions.

It is our decision. Whatever the decision is, you need to own it.

If you can’t look that decision in the mirror, market something else.



StartUp Tip #71: Live a simple life


If you want to follow your dreams to be an entrepreneur, you need to become comfortable with not knowing what is going to happen tomorrow.

You need to be comfortable with uncertainty.

Do everything you can to increase your tolerance for uncertainty. Put yourself in a position where there is no such thing as an unpleasant surprise.

Nassim Taleb’s book, Anti-Fragile, is a treasure chest of advice for ensuring that you not only are immune to adverse events, but that you actually benefit when things don’t go your way.

Being anti-fragile means all surprises are pleasant.

Being anti-fragile allows you to take the path less travelled.

Living a simple life will make you anti-fragile.

The most important tool for taking risk is to live a simple life. Don’t be ostentatious and don’t be flashy.

Keep your overheads low, regardless of your income.

Keeping your life simple has benefits other than allowing you to take risk.

  1. You will avoid the wrong spouse. It is easier to attract the right spouse if you are not driving a Ferrari. Do you really want to marry the kind of person that finds a fancy car irresistible?
  2. You will avoid doing stupid things. The high life brings temptations to go to the dark side. Why test your resolve? You have enough on your plate making your business a success. Rather avoid temptation. A simple life keeps you away from doing bad stuff.
  3. Will will extend your runway. If you keep your personal overheads low, then your runway gets longer and you can plug away at your startup for longer. High overheads equals shorter runway.
  4. You will maximise profit. The habit of frugality in your private life will transfer into your startup. Low overheads equals more profits.
  5. You will stay humble. If you are flashy you will be perceived as arrogant. No one likes arrogant people.  When you have a setback there will be a pile-on whilst people savor the schadenfreude. Rather stay humble.

If you can’t be humble, then look humble.

     6. You will think clearly. How can you think when you are constantly surrounded by courtiers, flashy cars, mansion houses and stuff?

The less distractions you have in your life, the more you can focus your mental energy on your business.

The only meaningful thing is whether you left a positive impact on the world during your short time alive. Owning a super-yacht is not a “positive impact”.

Build a profitable business that helps its customers and that can outlive its founder.

That’s a positive impact.

Living a simple life doesn’t mean living a common life.

You can still be extraordinary. You can eat great food, send your kids to world-class schools, travel to amazing places, and create great memories.

You can still be rich, and have the peace of mind that comes with financial freedom.

Just keep your lifestyle simple. It is easy to be simple when you are poor. It is also easy to be flash when you are poor.

Easiest of all is being flash when you are rich.

Live a simple remarkable life that matters.

Choose the hard path: Keep it simple even when you don’t have to.

StartUp Tip #70: Give credit to others


“It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t mind who gets the credit.” Harry Truman

A leader should not take credit when things go right if they are not willing to accept responsibility when things go wrong.

Every time you try to take credit, check yourself.

Why do you need the credit?

If the job is done, then that should be enough. Unless the only reason you were doing the job is to get credit.

In which case you are doing the wrong job or doing the right job for the wrong reason.

The urge to claim credit comes from your ego.

Get your ego out the way.

Give credit to others.

Challenge: Give credit to three people in the next few days and see what happens.

StartUp Tip #69: Startup life is just one thing leading to another


Most of the time, startup life is not a great big epic adventure.

It is just one thing leading to the next thing, and you trying to survive.

The greatest businesses often start with a simple task. A small job. A nondescript problem.

Not only does it feel your mission is petty, but the experience rarely seems enjoyable when you are enduring it.

You are mostly in a fight for your life and wondering, “Why am I doing this?”

You cannot see the end result, so you can’t know it’s worth it. Which makes it harder to endure.

Success is not easy. If you succeed, it is because you held on longer than most, worked extra hard than most and got a bit lucky in the process.

And also because you did not romanticise the struggle.

Sometimes you just have to hold on & not let go, irrespective how painful it gets, hold on & hope that at some point it will come to an end.

I survived because I hustled more than most people in a way that indicated that I was not prepared to give up.

But that hustle, that focus on making sure I didn’t lose by missing cash flow or not getting a salary, was self-defeating in that what actually has worked the best is realising that I’m going to be doing this for a long time and taking my time.

Entrepreneurship is a Russian novel. It is not a short story.

It is a marathon, not a sprint.

Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. 


StartUp Tip #68: Business is not a race


It’s tempting to compare everything to a race: Life. Kids. Business.

The very meaning of “race” is to compare: Are you faster than the other person?

But some things are not comparable. They are not relative.

Some things are absolute.

For example, your children. It doesn’t matter how they compare up to other kids, it only matters that they are happy.

Same for your life.

Measuring your success by comparing yourself to others is the path to unhappiness. Life is not a race against other people.

Same for your business.

Sure, you will have competitors. And you will occasionally benchmark against them. But your goal is not to race them.

Your goal is to keep moving forward, keep improving, keep growing. One day you will look up and find yourself at the head of the pack, or the last in line. Doesn’t matter.

It only matters that you build a profitable business.

It’s hard enough succeeding in isolation. Don’t complicate matters by comparing yourself to others.

Work hard, be focused, persevere, by all means don’t be comfortable.

But slow down. Savor and enjoy the moments.

Enjoy your kids grow, experience the sound of live music, smell the rich taste of coffee, enjoy the soundtrack to your life.

Take it one day at a time.