💬 Talk yourself into a corner.
On the hidden benefits of talking your way to starting a hard thing.
There’s no going back. That’s where you want to get to.
We live our lives told to “keep our options open.” But when you’re at the very precipice of launching a startup, you can’t have options. Not plausible ones anyway. There must be only one way forward and that way must be to hit commit/ publish/ send.
The challenge, then, is to get yourself to that level of conviction/certainty / inevitability.
And there’s only one way I know how: talk your way into it.
Talk about it so much that to not do it would render you the greater fool.
It’s why I think the greatest distance between a first-time founder and a repeat founder is on the issue of “how much I tell others about what I’m working on.”
First time founders (myself included), worry incessantly about someone “stealing their idea”. You quickly realize how unlikely that is once you actually get to building. Because ideas really are a dime a dozen. It’s the building that’s hard. And so few people actually do it. So the risk doesn’t actually lie in talking about it, but the opposite: in not talking about it enough. I can think of at least reasons why":
💪🏽 You’ll build the all-important “talk to your users” muscle. In the earliest days, founders have two jobs: talk to users and build something they want. In the earliest days you may not be talking just to potential users (you may not even know exactly who they might be). But the process of verbalizing the vision in your head and getting genuine feedback on it is an invaluable one.
🚧 You’ll talk yourself past your earliest hurdles. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn through just talking about your idea in some details - by talking about the problem you’re solving and the product and who you’re targeting and how you expect to make money. You’ll actively workshop your idea in pseudo-sprint cycles and refine the details before committing any code or buying any inventory or designing any websites. You’ll see on people’s faces what resonates and what doesn’t. What people understand immediately, intuitively and what they don’t. You’ll find your way around issues and barriers that you’d have otherwise wasted precious time figuring out on your own. And finally, you’ll also start to understand exactly what your earliest hypotheses to actually test will be and you’ll just focus on those.
🙊You’ll talk yourself into having to do what you say you’re going to do. The most important reason. In the days and months (and maybe years) before you actually do a thing, you’ll think up a million reasons on why you shouldn’t do it. On why it’s dumb, on why it won’t work, on why you’ll look like an idiot. The trick then, is to get to a place where you’ll look like the greater idiot in NOT doing it. And the only way to that place is by talking incessantly about your idea. There will come a day when you’ve been talking about it so much - to your friends, your partner, your coworkers - that they’ll turn around to you and say: “Just do it already or stop talking about it!” It’ll feel harsh but it will be the greatest gift they can give you - the pressure and the permission to go and actually do it.
As much as we all like to think we are rational, free-thinking individuals, often times the only way we’ll do something hard is when we have no choice.
There are fewer things I know of that are harder than building a start-up. It takes immense will and courage to willingly commit yourself to that path. But we can also get there via vanity and self-preservation.
So get talking.
Need someone to tell? Tell me. Tell the world - what wild and bold and ambitious thing do you want to build or do or create?