The Two Most Important Rules For Entrepreneurs

I’m 29 years old. I was 19 the last time I had a “regular job.”

Over the last ten years, in one form or another, I’ve been an entrepreneur.

I’ve had failures and successes. More failures, if I’m honest. I feel lucky to have had some success, too. I’ve learned a lot from both.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been an advisor to other entrepreneurs. In that time, I’ve learned one of the simple truths of business.

Most businesses, regardless of what they make or sell, actually do the same thing.

Businesses help people in exchange for money. That’s it. We all help people. This is as true for the chef who cooks your dinner as it is for the mobile app that helped you find his restaurant.

We all have to be helpful to succeed, but being helpful isn’t enough. Helpfulness is only the price of admission.

If you want to build an extremely successful business, you have to do two extra things.

Here are the two simple rules I teach my clients, and try to follow in my own businesses.

1. Create more than you consume.

2. When you create, do it at scale.

Let me explain what I mean, and why these two rules are so essential to your success.

Rule #1: Create More Than You Consume

You have so many opportunities to consume… stuff. I don’t know quite what to call it. Content?

You have reality TV, Facebook, millions of blogs, games on your phone, 24-hour news networks, and Reddit. You’re consuming this post right now.

Unfortunately, most consumption doesn’t actually help you. Not in terms of your business being successful.

Creation is what matters.

All entrepreneurs know this instinctively. You have to make stuff. Whether it’s software, or food, iPads, advice, gourmet spices, an electric car, or even a blog post…entrepreneurs are defined by what we create.

No one looks up to Elon Musk because of how much he consumes, but we’re astonished by what he creates.

I’ve personally wasted hundreds (ok, thousands) of hours being a consumer; and that time has been fun. Enjoyable. A pleasant distraction.

Of course, we all consume stuff. I doubt any of us could stop completely. That’s not the point.

The point is that we should focus on creating more than we consume.

Most days, I fail to live up to that rule. The days I am a net-consumer leave me where I started, but with less time. The days I am a net-creator help me move my business further toward my goals.

Part of the motivation for my write every day experiment was to get into the habit of being a creator. So far, so good–you’re reading this post after all.

Rule #2: When You Create, Do It At Scale

I’ve spent many years as a consultant, working with different clients. I help them one at a time. This has worked out pretty well, but it’s not all that scalable.

Don’t get me wrong. I love working with entrepreneurs one-on-one. I love the impact we can have when our efforts are focused, but it’s not the best business model.

In 8 years, I’ve helped hundreds of clients. I’ve told many of them about these two rules. That sounds pretty good, but even this blog post is more scalable. Over time, it will probably [update: definitely] be read by thousands of people. It’s only taken me an hour to write.

So, eight years to help hundreds of people versus one hour to (eventually) help thousands. Which sounds better to you?

Of course, it’s much better to be helpful at scale.

This doesn’t just work with creating content. It works no matter what you create.

Henry Ford’s assembly line brought us into the era of scalability. Modern software delivery is incredibly scaleable. You can make an app and sell a million copies–if you’re lucky. Even advice has become scaleable–an ebook can sell a thousand copies.

That’s not to say mass produced stuff is better. I have a soft spot for handmade objects and art. I just wouldn’t want to be in the business of making those things. It seems hard.

So, whatever your business, create more than you consume. When you create, do it at scale. I promise it will make all the difference for you, and the people you help.

I promise to do the same.

Let me know how it goes.