In the podcast series, Seth Godin’s Startup School, Seth Godin gave a guided tour to a group of highly-motivated early-stage entrepreneurs on some of the questions they will have to dig deep and ask themselves while they build up their business. Here are my takeaways from various topics discussed in the podcast episodes.

  • Instead of asking “What should I do or what business should I go into?” There is a better way to think about this question. If we could have whatever it is we want in our day, what would we make or build? If we can reach the level where we feel like it is just the right scale with the right people respecting us and reaching out to us, what would that be? That is what we should be doing.
  • The price of something does not have anything to do with how much it cost to make. We want to sell to only people who would value our work because the value is the stories the customers who tell themselves. So, the question we should ask is, how do we make it, so we can have enough customers paying the price that would identify them properly?
  • When we look for ways to promote our businesses, we need to be intentional. Rarely we will succeed if we try to convince everyone under the sun. Instead, we should focus our effort on a few “feeder” channels. By focusing on doing great work with people who are part of the feeder channels, our good reputation can spread. We will become the natural, safe choice. Decide what we are not going to do and what we are going to do. Do it beautifully, and we will get the references which start to build.
  • When working as freelancers, do everything we can to get written testimonies or recommendations. Show those recommendations to the new clients and ask for more endorsements when we complete the project. The effect of endorsements can compound. When the stack of endorsements looks like they are everywhere and bottomless, they might as well be. When that happens, we have eliminated the doubts that have been keeping us from being hired.
  • A lot of us think what we do is important work, and they could very well be. However, customers rarely care about what we had to work on and endure before getting our product or service ready. An important question to ask in the beginning would be, “There’s something in this box, and the thing in this box solves this problem. If I can show you that the thing in the box solves this problem, are you prepared to pay?” If the answer to that question is no, we could save everybody a lot of time by not wasting the energy and effort.
  • We need to do the hard work. Let our work help us win respect, build a bigger tribe, and make more connections. If we can do those things consistently enough, we will have no trouble making a living. When our work reaches a high, consistent level, we become the safe choice even though we could be charging the most. The people who would want to take us for cheap or free are never going want to pay us anyway. We would be better off to let our work pick our customers.
  • We venture will have easy and hard parts. It is important for us to learn how to frontload the hard parts and get as many of those out of the way near the beginning. If we need to average about 20 pre-sales calls for each sale and we needed ten sales, we would do well if we can get as many of the 200 failed pre-sale calls out of the way as quickly as possible. Do the hard stuff at the beginning when we have less to lose, it also gets easier as the journey grinds its way through. If we only focus on the easy parts early on, it would be very difficult and uninspiring when we start to do the hard stuff.