The 7 Day Startup and the quest for an idea
No, no, I have not started a startup in 7 days (yet!). It’s the title of a book by Dan Norris on his failures to create a profitable, scalable business and how he finally managed to launch his current startup WPCurve in just 7 days.
Now, 7 days is a really short time and it’s deliberate by design. By having only 7 days, and forcing yourself to adhere strictly to those 7 days, you force yourself to focus on the task at hand and only on those task. These task are fixed per day and very fixed in scope:
- Day 1: Generate an idea.<br />
- Day 2: Plan and create an MVP.<br />
- Day 3: Find a name and logo for your startup.<br />
- Day 4: Create a basic landing page.<br />
- Day 5: Get your startup in front of the right people.<br />
- Day 6: Set realistic growth goals for your startup.<br />
- Day 7: Launch!<br />
The goal of this tight schedule is easy: focus only on the parts that need to be done to get your product out there and validated. One part, each day, no longer. One day to get your MVP together. And don’t think about debating your name and logo much longer. Or your basic marketing strategy. Or your growth goals. Or your landing page. There is no need to get that perfect shade of blue for you logo or the font of your landing page to get the perfect mix of readability and attractiveness.
And only one day to dwell over the idea of your startup. I guess this is what’s bothering me most of all, both about this plan and my own startup aspirations. It’s completely normal that you can over-think startup ideas. They are cheap, you can get a ton of then every day. Why would it take you any longer than a day to pick an idea that you can work with? In his book, Dan describes a couple of preconditions for high-growth ideas, like opportunities for profit margin and asset building, a large market, a simple business model and recurring / predictable revenue. But, in my humble opinion, that list of preconditions misses one thing: passion.
Why passion? Because the most heard statement about startup life is that it is full with ups and downs. That there are periods where everything seems to be selling itself and you’re hugely successful, while the next month might be the worst you have ever experienced. How do you expect to “eat glass and stare into the abyss of death”, to quote Elon Musk, without being passionate about your idea?
To be honest, I’m a little afraid that’s where I’m stuck. I haven’t had any “EUREKA!” ideas yet. No ideas that I just _have_to build. No ideas that I see myself pulling all-nighters for to get it to the customer as soon as possible. Sure, I have http://hippu.be and some other side-projects, but they are all on the back burner. I can’t bring myself to put in long hours for them, let alone quit my current job.
So to all you entrepreneurs out there: how did you get your idea? Are you really passionate about it or is there something else that keeps you going at it? And is it really possible to generate an idea your passionate about in a single day of brainstorming?
Those of you who follow me on twitter, know that I have been reading a lot of books on startups the last couple of months. I’ll try to write down a short summary of each of the books in the near future, both for your benefit and mine. I’ve noticed that only the big narratives stick around after a couple of weeks. So these are the books I have finished so far:
- Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
- The Lean startup
- The $100 startup
- The hard thing about hard things
- The year without pants
- The 4-hour work week
- How Google works
- Zero to One
- Without their permission
There are a couple more on my “to read” list:
- The startup owner’s manual
- Once you’re lucky, twice you’re good
- Founders at work
If you have other reading suggestions, feel free to comment or send me a tweet 🙂