Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained 2017

10 Lessons Learned Starting and Selling a Business

The premise of the event was: 5 creative entrepreneurs. 5 ideas. 5 minutes.

So that’s kinda limiting, right? Always one to over-deliver, I wanted to give audience members a bonus. If you’re reading this you’ve found that bonus.

The first five are some added content to my talk at General Assembly, and the next five are totally new.


1. Full Responsibility

2. Audit Your Passion

A lot of times, we’re in love with the idea of doing something, and not the actual act of doing it.

For example: I love the idea of traveling, but the act of traveling (mostly) drives me crazy. Traveling is not my passion.

Also, you can’t be passionate about something you just started. I know it seems like you’re passionate about jiu jitsu, or hand-lettering, or coding, but true passion is defined as wanting to do it and loving it even after the honeymoon phase is over.

Last, most people think that doing work you’re passionate about looks like this:

Passionate about it → Get good at it → Make money from it

But what it really looks like is:

Get really good at something → Get paid for it → Become passionate about it

3. Protect Your Passion

Don’t quit your day job.

Don’t “leap.”

100% of the people telling you to take the entrepreneurial leap are people selling your some trash info-product teaching you how to do it.

It puts undue pressure on your passion and causes bad business decisions:

  • Discounting products just to pay the bills
  • Taking on clients you KNOW you’re going to hate
  • Applying for outside loans or venture capital

I ruined my passion for jiu-jitsu by trying to make a business out of it. Like leaning on a sapling versus a redwood, I broke it by trying to make money too early and not thinking ahead.

4. Get People on Board

I love the “Flinstone car” analogy: Everybody needs to have their feet on the ground and be pushing forward. If they aren’t, they’re holding you back.

If people in your life are against you pursuing something, it’s your job to convince them. If you do that and they’re still against it because of their own limiting beliefs, they might have to go. Even if they aren’t actively pulling you down, simply being agnostic to your idea isn’t helping you.

Remember: You’re the average of the five people closest to you.

The best way to get people to want what you want is to give them what they want.

Your mom wants to spend more time with you? Do it.

Your wife wants financial security? Make it happen.

The number one productivity, success, and life hack that nobody talks about is who you marry.

Don’t move until they’re 100% on board.

5. Build Something

To do this, we ventured to hire a different kind of people. People who had varied experiences in their lives, who had worked on their own to start something. People who had been out in the world, seen it, and felt more empathy and energy because of it. — Clique Studios

One of the reasons that I was hired at Clique Studios was because I didn’t claim to be good at what I did, but I could prove it.

I had my own SEO agency up and running. My own processes. I’d done SEO for my own ecommerce company.

I got extremely good at something, living out my own ethos that the best way to get where you want to be in live is to make your own thing.

People don’t hire marketers, designers, or developers any more. They hire self-starters. They hire entrepreneurs.

6. Passion X Patience

You see, Instagram is a freaking highlight reel of how awesome everybody is with a beautiful visual to go with it. You have a fledgling cooking blog and wonder how you’ll ever get your food to look like the food on some popular Instagram page.
But what you don’t get to see is that the photo of the perfect stack of 5 pancakes took them over 3 hours of cooking and 200 pancakes and even when they got the perfect 5, it was 28 shots, upload to photoshop, back to the phone, then to Instagram.

Sure your passion will wake you up at 3am for the first week, or the first month, or even the first year. But will you be patient enough to keep that passion for 5 years? Can you get up at 3am every day for the next 5 years? Because that’s where I am. Can I do this for the next 10? What about the next 20?

I REFUSE to let my passion diminish because I refuse to be patient.

Whatever your business is. Whatever your passion is. The REAL reason you are reading this and trying to improve yourself. Time is your unfair advantage. There will always be people with better ideas and people more talented.

But they’ll all quit.

All of them.

If passion is the jab, patience is the right hook.

It’s the multiplier.

Read the full article here.

7. Amor Fati

Literally translated, this means “a love of fate.”

No matter what happens in my life, I am meant to make the best of it.

There is immense power in learning to love your fate.

“You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it.” — Cheryl Strayed

Read the full article here:

8. Memento Mori

But just like “Amor Fati” tattoo on my right forearm, I have one on my left that also faces toward me.

It reads “Memento Mori,” which means “remember that you are mortal.”

Remember that one day, you too, shall die.

We will all die. Most of us, before we’re ready.

It is one of the very few certainties that I have in this life.

I am not invincible. Neither are you. You need to do what you’re put here to do NOW.

Not tomorrow.

Not at some arbitrary interval in your life.


9. Work Smarter

Humans work better under restraints. If you don’t want to take my word on this, I get it. But forcing myself to work smarter has paid of infinitely more dividends than working more.

You only need to work 40 hours per week. And that’s if you’re extremely unproductive.

Likely, you only need to be working 20 hours per week if you’re good at knowing what to work on and how to work on it.

10. Stop Reading This

Don’t read any more blog posts.

Don’t listen to any more podcasts.

Take a 7-day break from all this crap and work on your thing.

You aren’t going to get some breakthrough idea by filling your head with more noise about what you should be doing.

You already know what you need to do. You don’t need my permission, or anybody else’s.


Two books I mentioned during my talk and the Q&A were Rework and Miracle Morning. Both are MUST reads.