If this is your first time reading, I recommend you start with my 6-month challenge and table of contents of weekly posts for the past 19 weeks.
tl;dr I was planning to shut down Cusoy but I changed my mind. I deconstruct and confront my powerfully debilitating limiting beliefs. My key lack was internal conviction and lack of accountability. Don’t disqualify yourself. My plan is to publish my roadmap each week and hold myself accountable publicly — regardless of whether or not things progress, I fiercely believe in the 20 Mile March and am focused on building habits and systems over my overly ambitious goals and deadlines (in my world they were wrongfully mutually exclusive).
I had said I was just going to post once every two weeks before — actually, will be posting once a week now! I’m going to stick to a schedule for sure this time.
Every Sunday I will post a new weekly update.
I’ve decided to scrap this “six month challenge” and instead, I’m going to work on Cusoy for the entire year — until next mid-July 2014, or whenever my runway runs out (whichever comes first). I feel that Cusoy deserves that much and I owe it to myself too to work as much as I possibly can on it.
I. Changed my mind by confronting limiting beliefs
II. Internal conviction and lack of accountability
III. This week’s roadmap and 20 Mile March
IV. Other projects
V. Next week and key lessons learned
12. Don’t give up.
Even if you get demoralized, don’t give up. You can get surprisingly far by just not giving up. This isn’t true in all fields. There are a lot of people who couldn’t become good mathematicians no matter how long they persisted. But startups aren’t like that. Sheer effort is usually enough, so long as you keep morphing your idea.
– Paul Graham, Startups in 13 Sentences
I. CHANGED MY MIND BY CONFRONTING LIMITING BELIEFS
It’s 41 degrees outside.
It’s 12:47 a.m. Thursday and I’m walking on a treadmill at the gym. I’ve been trying to start a habit of walking 10,000 steps a day, and was periodically checking my UP band.
No one else is here except me, my thoughts and some Hyper Crush pounding in my earphones.
I was lost in my thoughts of where I am with Cusoy, my life and where I’m going vs. where I want to be.
I sent out an email update earlier this week to my readers that I was putting Cusoy on hiatus.
I told good friends of mine I was putting it on hiatus, pressing pause, effectively shutting it down until further notice.
I was dreading the fact that I had to tell my users.
I told myself, “Tomorrow. You have to tell them tomorrow.”
They must’ve known something was up by the fact that I hadn’t worked on Cusoy at all for the past 2 weeks, right?
I felt like shit.
Because I’m scared.
I’m scared of failure. I’m scared of not making any money. I’m scared of having wasted all this time, through all my naivete. I’m scared of looking like a complete fool on a dumb mission to attempt something beyond my means and power.
I was wondering why I kept flip-flopping back and forth. Is Cusoy really worth it, given my circumstances? Should I stick to pigheaded determination or give it up to pursue something more sustainable (B2B SaaS)?
But as I was walking alone in my thoughts, I felt that I was unfairly disqualifying myself. Sure, I’m just one person — but if I could get so much accomplished on my own so far, who’s to say the next six months would be a total failure?
I have limiting beliefs. So many of them.
All entrepreneurs do, and yet I feel like the only one struggling with this because I’m so “used” to success throughout my life (though to be fair, I haven’t really defined my goals for Cusoy or what I see as “success” with Cusoy).
I’m smart, I can figure this stuff out, it has to work!
Wrong. Yes. No. Maybe.
So many limiting beliefs. I honestly think I am capable of amazing things, but it’s always myself that is stopping me. I am my own greatest enemy.
It’s all in my head. 80% of entrepreneurship — at least, in my experience — is not lack of intelligence but a tough, mental game that tests your character of conviction and determination. Paul Graham was right.
Determination and focus is the #1 key to success.
Let me go through each of my limiting beliefs and counteract it with a rational answer.
This is me trying to out-shrink myself in an open and transparent manner:
Limiting belief #1: I don’t have a team.
Easy answer: So go out and find people to work on this with you!
Find a developer and/or sales/marketing person who is also gluten intolerant or has celiac disease or food allergies. He or she will be more than happy to work on this with you, since Cusoy is also solving his or her problem.
Limiting belief #2: I don’t want to waste my time trying to find people to join me. It’s not that I don’t want a team, but I’m scared that I’ll spend precious time away from the product trying to meet other people and waste my time meeting people who aren’t a good fit or match. What about all those people saying don’t waste your time trying to find a cofounder if you can do things yourself?
First of all, don’t take anyone’s advice at face value. It is always whatever worked well for that person in his or her OWN circumstances. For every story and person who says one thing worked for him or her, there’s another story where the opposite happened to another person.
Think of this as an investment. Yes, you won’t find your cofounder on the first try — it’s almost like dating on steroids, given how you will spend a lot of time with him or her as cofounder… but you have to try!
You need to sell yourself. Get over your fears and focus on your true goal, which is making Cusoy a success and keeping it alive.
Do you really think Cusoy will succeed just on your own? You work hard and are smart, but you’re not Superman. No one is.
Limiting belief #3: I’m scared I will be controlling or think of Cusoy too much as “my baby” and not trust anyone else to help me with it.
That’s a valid and honest disclosure. Again, this is good that you’re being extremely self-aware of yourself and your weaknesses, but this is room for you to grow and again — focus on the big picture: making Cusoy a success and not letting it die a slow death.
You can’t go very far on your own.
What’s that quote?
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
There’s absolutely no way in hell you can scale, grow and market Cusoy on your own. Don’t try to be a hero; no one can scale this as a one-man team.
You WILL need to grow a team sooner or later — why not start now? Who knows, you may get some people on your team a lot sooner than you think.
Limiting belief #4: I don’t even know where to start trying to find people to join me…
Don’t give me BS excuses. You know there are plenty of places you can start looking. Don’t be lazy. Go out and try 50 different ways to find people then come back to me.
How strongly do you believe in Cusoy and its potential? Translate to others and share your enthusiasm and passion for Cusoy and beliefs in its success.
Limiting belief #5: I don’t have funding. My runway is going to run out fairly soon. Rock Health rejected me. I don’t want to look for investors. Again, what a huge waste of time! I can’t help but think of stories of where founders got screwed over by VC’s. Plus, I don’t know jack about equity, term sheets, etc. I don’t have time to think about that!
Let’s be honest, Cusoy is not going to be profitable anytime soon. It’s a VC-backable kind of startup that requires a large user base before it can be monetized. Simple as that; come on, you know that.
Again, you’re being lazy, negative and unfair to investors. Excuses, so many excuses! Stop that. There are always pitfalls in everything, and while some investors out there are bad, there are also really good investors too. You need to laser focus on angels who have a vested interest or background in food and health and so may be inclined to back Cusoy.
Figure out the next level of milestones you need to hit before you look for investors. That may be assembling a team, getting user retention numbers to hit a certain level, etc.
Start building relationships with investors. Don’t go in expecting angels will instantly fund you, but think of it as how investors invest in lines, not dots.
You’ve come so far already on your own, it’s a pity that you stopped here. Get a grip of yourself and get over your fears.
Limiting belief #6: I feel like I have so many things I want to do with Cusoy and not enough time in the day. I often just get depressed and give up entirely. I have ambitious roadmaps of adding 10 restaurants a day (among 5 other “big” tasks too), and yet I can’t get myself to add even 1 restaurant. But at the same time, I feel like an idiot if I just tell myself to add 1 restaurant a day to start — what’s the point? What does that say about me and my productivity? This is so depressing and embarrassing.
First of all, don’t be embarrassed. Some of the most productive people in the world have completely unproductive days — one of which (a self-made multi-millionaire entrepreneur who you greatly admire but who won’t be named) once spent 3 hours watching TV, couldn’t bring himself to do anything after that, and so decided to take a 2 hour nap.
Don’t be so hard on yourself.
Focus on the 20 Mile March.
Establish habits and systems.
Don’t rely on overly ambitious roadmaps. I know, I know. It’s hard to change your behavior.
Remember that story where a woman had a goal of running 5 miles a week, but couldn’t start… and when suggested with the idea of just running 1 mile a week, she scoffed at how stupid that was! What kind of a useless goal is it to run 1 mile a week? Right, but if you can’t get yourself to run 1 mile a week, don’t fool yourself with goals of 5 miles a week. You have some bigger problems there, let’s be honest.
Start small. Just keep doing allotted tasks — be realistic, brutally honest, feasible and reflect after each task what you could be doing better.
I know it can be so easy to get distracted by all the things you want to do and overly load yourself and your roadmap, but you need to focus and be realistic with yourself. Be relentless with yourself. Don’t cave in to your mental pressures.
At the very least, this is the best way for you to become consistent with your habits and systems on a personal development level, notwithstanding Cusoy.
II. INTERNAL CONVICTION AND LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Lack of internal conviction
Aside from confronting my limiting beliefs as illustrated above, I was struggling with a lack of internal conviction and lack of accountability.
I kept trying to ask people to tell me what to do.
I kept apologizing for things I shouldn’t be sorry for.
I kept trying to get people’s permission to stop working on Cusoy, to tell me it was OK, to tell me there wasn’t anything else I could do (so false).
I kept trying to get my friends to tell me not to stop working on Cusoy (tell me I’m wrong! tell me to don’t stop trying!).
It was a mess; I wasn’t sure of what I wanted. I wanted other people to make the decision for me and I sought external validation for my decisions to keep my sanity and faith in what I was doing with my life.
It was as if I was asking them permission to make decisions for me… given their very limited knowledge of what I’ve done with Cusoy so far, my plans, etc. Doesn’t make any sense, right? I’m so irrational sometimes.
It is an ongoing struggle with the ambiguity and uncertainty in startups and I was very emotionally fragile and weak, trying to seek some clear direction in which there was an absolute one, right answer.
There never is one “right” answer.
There could be a million ways or things I could be doing with Cusoy right now. Are they all the “right” things? Probably not.
But taking action and executing is a hell of a lot better than being scared of failing at taking any step, and therefore doing nothing at all.
I’ve decided that I am going to work on Cusoy for the entire year — until next mid-July 2014, or whenever my runway runs out (whichever comes first). It’s unfair to me and to Cusoy that I “give up” prematurely on Cusoy, even at just six months. Six months is just getting started. At least a year in, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on it — and, regardless of it failing or succeeding — I will have learned a LOT more than just merely stopping today. I’ve learned a lot so far, but it’s ridiculous for me to just stop now… I shipped a little over a month ago. Why the hell am I stopping now? Things are just getting started.
Note: I decided in January 2014 to not work on Cusoy for another six months… read Week #24 – Officially putting Cusoy on hold to find out why.
Lack of accountability
Another big reason for my limiting beliefs is that I didn’t have any accountability.
I was reading the transcript of Peter Shallard’s interview with Andrew Warner on Mixergy, and his comment on accountability really resonated with me:
I’m not accountable to anyone. We’ve all strove to be our own bosses. That’s like the paradox of entrepreneurship. We want the freedom, but then we realize once we get it, that if you don’t have accountability and kind of a lack of freedom to constrain you in and make you do stuff, you’re not really going to get that much stuff done. It’s like the jogging buddy principle. That’s a system that works really well and people can create accountability by creating mastermind groups. A lot of entrepreneurs who build bigger companies have advisory boards. The have shareholders. They have investors that they’re accountable to. If you’re a sole entrepreneur, you have to work harder than almost anyone else to create accountability because there isn’t anyone who’s intrinsically motivated to really give a shit about how productive you are on a day to day basis.
Let me repeat the last sentence for emphasis: If you’re a sole entrepreneur, you have to work harder than almost anyone else to create accountability because there isn’t anyone who’s intrinsically motivated to really give a shit about how productive you are on a day to day basis.
…more reason to find a cofounder. Or come up with a way to punish yourself if you don’t meet your daily or weekly goals.
III. THIS WEEK’S ROADMAP
For this week, I’m just going to be going through my notes and rethinking realistic goals for myself and my 20 Mile March.
I’m going to write up my Monthly Review #5 to be published Saturday.
And I’ll start publicly posting my weekly roadmap next time — on Sunday — when I want to start my regular updates (man, I hate being inconsistent with myself!).
V. OTHER PROJECTS
I will be splitting my time 50/50 between Cusoy and my B2B SaaS project.
More on my B2B SaaS project on Sunday too!
VI. NEXT WEEK AND KEY LESSONS LEARNED
I will be publicly posting my roadmap for Cusoy as a way for me to gain greater transparency and accountability for anyone who reads this.
If I don’t reach my weekly roadmap goals… I promise to donate $50 to Westboro Baptist Church (one of the worst organizations out there that I strongly dislike).
P.S. I’d love to meet you on Twitter here.
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