I'm back in Amsterdam, so naturally I reflected a bit on these past months. One important lesson sums it up pretty well: You can probably do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want.
We planned to freelance for just enough money, build a product ourselves, sell it and market it at the same time. That took lots of energy, time and more importantly: focus.
When you're not focused, you're not learning as much as you should.
It led me to an insight: we aren't focused because we're making most of our decisions from a scarcity mindset. At every step of the road, we think: How can we avoid mistakes?
As a thought experiment, I wanted to see what happened if we flipped our mindset to focus on potential instead of scarcity.
Instead of asking how we can avoid failure, we started asking: What can we become really good at? What do we need to add for this plan to succeed? What does our ideal situation look like?
While making decisions from scarcity is probably a lot more responsible, thinking in potential is a lot more exciting. And isn’t that why you’d start a business in the first place? To do exciting things?
I thought it'd be interesting to compare what both mindsets mean for our team, money matters and product.
We can do design, marketing, sales, development and customer service ourselves. We can learn about the music industry through our customers’ feedback. From a scarcity perspective, that's great - it means we can do everything without taking any risks.
However, I believe you can only become really great at something you love doing. In our case, we love doing design, marketing and building things.
A startup team with a lot of potential has an amazing product, great marketing and specific industry knowledge. We can cover the first two bases, but realistically, we can't cover the third: we know very little about the music industry and dislike doing sales.
If we wanted to build a team that has high potential, we should think about teaming up with someone who knows the industry, has a large network and loves to do sales.
We currently divide our week into work for Minimum, freelance work and Pody. We take small steps with Pody, building up enough users until we can pay ourselves a salary. With our focus spread like that, that's going to take quite a while. That's fine, as long as it's a conscious decision to go slow.
Like Youssef talked about last month, the reason we do this is just because of a very simple problem: cash. We simply don't have the cash to focus on Pody for 6-12 months.
If we believe in Pody's potential as our only business, we should be able to take a risk instead of trying to do everything at the same time. That means we invest our own money or someone else invests.
To make sure we're ready to take a bigger step, we're taking on more work for the rest of the year. We'll save up some money so we can 'invest' in Pody later and focus for 6 months.
At the moment, we're building something new so we don’t have to compete with existing tools. There's one problem with that: you have no idea if there's a market for it. You also don't know if people are willing to pay to solve the problems you're working on.
If we'd switch to thinking about potential, we would look at what’s wrong with the current products people are already paying for and focus on making those a lot better.
You start seeing how these three are related: if you believe you have a great team and you have enough cash to focus, you can ignore competition and just build a better product.
None of these mindsets is the right one, but it has helped us look at things differently. Somewhere in between we hope to find the right balance of ambitious goals and small steps.
Next Tuesday, we’re pitching Pody’s future potential to a well-known artist management agency, to sign them up for a paid beta program. Before we start building again, we’ll pitch it again and again with more agencies until we have enough.
When we reach that point, we know we have something that has high potential.
And isn’t that an exciting thing to work on?
Thanks for reading,