#1 Notes from Seth Godin’s Startup School: Freelancer or Entrepreneur?

These are notes taken from the podcast Seth Godin’s Startup School.

On Monopoly

  • While there is the unfair monopoly that controls and fixes the market, every successful business is also a monopoly. These businesses cannot be replaced by others and they offer “things that people would cross the road for.”
  • Our conception of business is rooted in the 1930’s mentality of taking an existing thing and doing it ‘better’ and ‘cheaper.’
  • But in this era we need to stop selling ‘stuff,’ and sell ‘connections.’ We have shifted from an industrial economy to a connection economy. Monopoly is about being in the center of that network.
  • In the market, you always have a choice. Everything is a result of the decisions you have made in the process. Be flexible. Even if you have had pizza making knowledge for fifteen years, you should change your business if everyone in the area starts going gluten-free.

On Freelancer vs. Entrepreneur

  • Freelancers get paid by the work they do. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. You are your employee and boss.
  • Entrepreneurs usually build things that are bigger than themselves. Even when they aren’t working, they get paid since their work is probably being done by hired employees. You are the boss, but you are also the cheapest employee you can hire.
  • If Mark Zuckerberg is serious about growing Facebook as a business, he has to stop coding himself and hire people to do the work so that he can focus on his duties as CEO.

On the discipline of an entrepreneur

  • “How do I make sure that everyone is better at that job than I am? How do I make sure that I have no job, other than ‘breaking’ the system.
  • Seth Godin considers himself 80% freelancer, 20% entrepreneur. He writes books associated with himself while managing his company.
  • ‘Breaking’ is trying something new to a system that already works well. It may turn out better or worse, but it’s an attempt to improve the system and push the company forward. I think ‘tinkering’ could be an alternative term. Only the CEO has the power to make these decisions.

On business vs. marketing

  • “People give you money because they think it’s worth more than the amount they offer. If they give you $100, they think your business is worth $200. You have an obligation to deliver.”
  • Marketing is telling a story about value that resonate with people to the extent that they will give you money.
  • As an entrepreneur, you have to figure out
    1. How do you tell the story?
    2. Who do you tell it to?
    3. How do you create value?
    and do it over and over again.

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