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tl;dr I’m posting my roadmap this week publicly for greater accountability and transparency. I’m also conducting experiments with my productivity and adhering to the 20 Mile March principle and will iterate accordingly. If I don’t meet my goals this week, I promise to donate $50 to Westboro Baptist Church, a hate-filled organization I strongly oppose.

I wasn’t very productive this weekend as I just tried to relax and catch up with friends, but that was by design — I’m going to take the rest of this month (and by extension, the remainder of 2013) to really focus and immerse myself into work. A lot of people will be going home for the holidays or off on vacation somewhere nice and warm, while I will be staying put.

I. My roadmap this week
II. B2B SaaS exploration
III. Approach and tactics
IV. Next week and key lessons learned

So when you release something and it seems like no one cares, look more closely. Are there zero users who really love you, or is there at least some little group that does? It’s quite possible there will be zero. In that case, tweak your product and try again. Every one of you is working on a space that contains at least one winning permutation somewhere in it. If you just keep trying, you’ll find it.

Let me mention some things not to do. The number one thing not to do is other things. If you find yourself saying a sentence that ends with “but we’re going to keep working on the startup,” you are in big trouble. Bob’s going to grad school, but we’re going to keep working on the startup. We’re moving back to Minnesota, but we’re going to keep working on the startup. We’re taking on some consulting projects, but we’re going to keep working on the startup. You may as well just translate these to “we’re giving up on the startup, but we’re not willing to admit that to ourselves,” because that’s what it means most of the time. A startup is so hard that working on it can’t be preceded by “but.”

– Paul Graham, How Not to Die

I. MY ROADMAP THIS WEEK

In spirit of complete, utter transparency (an exercise in both my habits and also public accountability), here are my Cusoy tasks each day this week.

It’s nothing terribly ambitious. I’m starting off a bit slow and very simplistic to give myself some easy wins. If you looked at my previous ambitious Cusoy calendar before… your head would spin and get completely overwhelmed. Really.

So, I’m starting off this week just stupid dead simple. To reference an analogy I mentioned in the previous post, let’s run 1 mile before I think about running 5 miles with Cusoy.

These time estimates are both 1) being very generous with myself, 2) historically based on the average length I’ve observed it takes to add a restaurant.

Monday, December 16
– Add 5 SF restaurants (estimated duration: 3 hours)

Tuesday, December 17
– Add 5 SF restaurants (estimated duration: 3 hours)

Wednesday, December 18
– Add 5 SF restaurants (estimated duration: 3 hours)
– Add 3 South Bay restaurants (estimated duration: 2 hours)

Thursday, December 19
– Add 5 SF restaurants (estimated duration: 3 hours)
– Add 3 East Bay restaurants (estimated duration: 2 hours)

Friday, December 20
– Add 5 SF restaurants (estimated duration: 3 hours)
– Add 3 Peninsula restaurants (estimated duration: 2 hours)

Saturday, December 21
– Answer support requests, integrate Intercom.io, analytics/KPI’s summary (estimated duration: 3 hours)
– Add 3 North Bay restaurants (estimated duration: 2 hours)
– Plan next week’s roadmap, refer to Asana (estimated duration: 1 hour)
– Create a reading schedule of my Evernote notebooks (I have a notebook for every aspect: Growth, Metrics, Monetization, Pricing, Product/Market Fit, User Acquisition, etc) to consume content (which hopefully will be immediately actionable) (estimated duration: 1 hour)

If you’re curious why I’m only spending 3-5 hours a day on Cusoy, it’s because I am also dedicating the other 50% of my time to exploring a B2B SaaS product.

Again, this is highly experimental and I am curious to see how things work and turn out, even for the next 3 weeks. Depending on how things go, I may amp up the roadmap or turn things down a notch — or completely change my approach.

Fail fast and keep moving forward.

II. B2B SAAS EXPLORATION

I am splitting my time 50/50 between Cusoy and a new B2B SaaS product, which potentially may lead me to profitability much faster than Cusoy.

How B2B SaaS is starkly different than Cusoy:

  • It is revenue first
  • It has recurring monthly or annual revenue
  • It has paying customers
  • Its investors are the customers, not VC’s
  • It is easily scalable with software compared to attempts to scale Cusoy with its nature of crowd-sourcing information and data
  • …It is an actual business, not just a “startup”

I keep saying “B2B SaaS” … because my nonexistent product doesn’t have a name.

Because I don’t know what the product is going to be.

I have no idea what I’m going to make. At least, not right now.

…Huh?

So, just how am I planning to do it, you ask?

1. Idea extraction. Call and talk to actual businesses to get to the root of a business problem that can be solved with automated software. There are abundant business problems all around us; it is up to you to get a hold of them and firmly grasp on a problem that business owners want so badly solved that they’ll pay you for it. Find the pain.

2. MVP prototyping. Build a prototype that sketches out the solution and do tons and tons of usability testing… enough to get it to the next point: pre-selling.

3. Pre-selling. Do NOT build the actual product until you have customers who will buy and preorder it even though it’s not even built yet. That’s the best validation, hands down, of knowing you’re truly solving a problem!

4. Building the product. Get this… use the presales to actually fund the product development! Genius, right? But it’s so true. (No, I am not going to be building this product — I plan to hire a developer.)

5. Scaling. Getting more and more customers, scaling and growing the business. Recurring revenue. Money in da bank. Profit. 😉

…OK, so this sounds extremely simplistic, I know. There are a lot more nuances than what I just said, and which I won’t go into, but the above is the general gist and structure of this sort of approach. Just to give you an idea of where I’m coming from and where I’m heading towards.

If this framework sounds familiar because of Dane Maxwell — you’re absolutely right. It is all based and inspired from him and his new program, The Foundation.

I thought it was rather brilliant and am excited to follow this framework.

This blog is 100% focused on Cusoy, though now my time will not be 100% focused on Cusoy — I’m saving my B2B SaaS exploration updates for my email newsletter, so sign up if you’d like to hear more about that.

III. APPROACH AND TACTICS

I have tried a ton of productivity apps and approaches and wanted some open disclosure on some tactical approaches I’m attempting now.

This gets a bit granular—feel free to skip, if you’re not interested—this is more for me to keep accountable to myself.

I’m trying something new this week — a combination of Google calendar, a time diary and also 3” x 5” notecards.

Tools

  • Google calendar: If it’s not on my calendar, it’s not happening. Time-blocking rules everything — it’s not enough to put something on a to-do list, but to actually estimate (realistically and honestly) how long it will take, when planning your day. I don’t schedule every single hour of a day, but try to optimize “eating the frogs” during times when I’m most productive and my energy is highest. (Good thing I actually learned this from Cal Newport about 4 years ago — I attribute my college time management success to his introduction of time-blocking to me)
  • Time diary: In a spreadsheet, every day I record each activity I do, time spent per activity, what I got out of it and what it might mean.
  • 3” x 5” notecards: What are the top 3-5 Most Important Tasks of my day? My to-do list should NEVER exceed 5 things nor the space of this notecard. If it does, that means I don’t know how to prioritize my time.

Philosophy

  • 20 Mile March: As I’ve repeatedly stated in recent posts, I’m a strong believer in the 20 Mile March. As soon as you can separate your emotions, mental hangups, excuses, fears, irrational things — just concentrate on your daily 20 mile march, things get much easier. Trust me. It becomes more of a habit. Just keep trucking along. Remove all emotions and fears out of it. Just do your assigned task each day. Don’t think about it (“Should I actually be doing something else? What about X?” etc). Just do it. Think of it as a process, as your journey. Not the end destination, not an end goal (success or failure).

IV. NEXT WEEK AND KEY LESSONS LEARNED

As people are checking out in the fast wake of Christmas and New Year’s, there is no intense pressure to keep in constant contact with users or restaurants and will allow me to have some deep focus on the product, adding restaurants, etc.

Also, as 2013 is quickly drawing to a close, I’m going to take some time to reflect on this year, on Cusoy and my New Year resolutions and goals for 2014.

Key lessons learned:

  1. Try to get an accountability partner or mechanism. In this case, I’m using my blog to publicly post my roadmap in the spirit of transparency and accountability. If I fail to complete these admittedly straightforward, simple tasks for Cusoy… I’m going to donate $50 to Westboro Baptist Church.
  2. Iterate your productivity. I’m trying the tactical approaches I mentioned above and will report back next week whether or not this has been both effective and efficient for me.
  3. The importance and principle of the 20 Mile March. The goal here for me is consistency and persistence. Regardless of any doubts that will inevitably pop up every six seconds in my head, I just need to do my allotted task per day. Don’t think about anything else or “excuse” my way out of action, or I’ll never get anything done and rationalize myself into giving up.

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