Tyler Durden Is Better At Business Than You
Serial entrepreneur and all round badass, Durden started Fight Club with nothing but an idea and a fuck ton of hustle.
No capital, no premises, no partners.
No sales team, no dev department, no network infrastructure.
Savvy son of a bitch.
So, what can this maniac teach us about building a successful business?
1. Create something people want
This is called Product-Market Fit.
Durden identified and capitalised on an untapped societal need.
He offered dissatisfied men numbed by the monotony of their jobs and mundanity of their lives a way to escape the grind.
2. Self start
Durden started Fight Club in the parking lot of a sleazy bar and eventually wrangled a premises in the basement of that sleazy bar, rent free.
There’s that fuck ton of hustle.
3. Outline your operating framework
Durden laid out the mechanics of Fight Club with eight simple rules.
This standardised process meant he could expand quickly and easily later on.
He cleverly leveraged social currency by asking users to keep it a secret, which of course urged them to tell their friends, driving early growth.
He set out guidelines to govern each fight and by making newcomers get in the ring on their first visit, he had a solid way to convert trialists into new users.
4. Forget about getting your seven hours a night
When you start a new business, you have to sacrifice some sleep.
Durden went and knocked it on the head completely by becoming an insomniac.
5. Drive demand
In the same way an economy works, Durden kept demand for Fight Club high through scarcity, by initially making it available in only one place, on only one night a week.
He also lowered the barriers to adoption, making it free to all.
This is a must for every leader.
Durden did it with rousing manifestos:
“Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
Take a bow, sir.
But he also walked the walk.
By negotiating with Lou the landlord for an indefinite extension on his lease at a continuing rate zero dollars per month, he saved the business from losing its headquarters.
7. Expand aggressively
Not long after opening, Fight Club affiliates started popping up in cities across America.
Durden struck a corporate sponsorship deal with a major car company where he worked as a recall co-ordinator.
He scaled back his day to day role, staying on as a consultant, and devoted all his attention to his fledgling business.
To meet skyrocketing demand, Fight Club opened every night of the week.
8. Adapt and evolve
Durden kept his operation nimble.
Always iterative, always evolving.
Member homework assignments went into beta testing and proved invaluable for building team morale.
And soon Fight Club morphed into the anti-corporate, anti-materialist Project Mayhem.
With that came the move to a bigger premises on Paper St.
And monetisation through member sign up fees.
Durden introduced a gruelling recruitment process and built extremely effective in-house production and execution teams.
Due to budget constraints, Mayhem concentrated on the generation of free media with guerrilla stunts that were picked up by local News broadcasters.
This helped elevate the organisation beyond dingy basement bust ups — if Fight Club existed to liberate individuals from their dead end lives, Project Mayhem existed to liberate society from capitalist culture & corporate greed.
9. Don’t let anything deter you
Do you think Durden let his Dissociative Identity Disorder stop him?
Fuck no, it was the driving force behind his success.
And although he was probably a terrorist, Durden teaches us the value of a clear vision and inspires us to create not just a business, but a movement.
That’s where the real power is.