Feb 19th, 2021
So, I spent some time on Club House lately and it made me want to write again a bit. I find it hard to react in real time because ideas take time to mature and to formulate. Because it’s Club House, I spent quite a lot of time around talking about startups and I heard some great stories and pieces of advice.
One thing that struck me is that often, you hear a lot of good advice that’s contradictory. On a room about YC, someone told me (sorry can’t remember the name) that one of the first thing you learn there is to "don’t average the advice".
I think this is very true. If someone says A and someone else says B, don’t do (A+B)/2. That’s not going to work. But you have to pick which advice you will follow.
This made me think of two ways to sort this out. First criterion I would think of is "what stage is my startup in"? When you get started you don’t do the same things as when you’re a hundred.
For instance, I heard people talking a lot about content as a sales strategy. Yes, producing content is an excellent sales strategy on the long term (worry not, I don’t have anything to sell you!).
However content comes with a huge cost. It’s absurdly time-consuming. If you don’t know how to do it, or don’t want to do it, you may have to pay other people to do it for you.
Besides, a good content strategy demands consistency. You have to relentlessly post new stuff that brings as much value to your audience as your precious pieces, often and at a consistent pace. This is VERY hard to do (I can testify, it’s been almost three years since I didn’t put out anything here).
All this make it very hard to rely on content when you get started but it makes content an extremely powerful channel once you got it going. So when you hear “content is a good sales strategy”, it’s both true and false.
Is that Schrödinger advice? Not really. It all depends on the stage of your company. If you’re just a founder, or a founding team, you have to generate the first bits of revenue. So content isn’t going to work. You can invest in it on the side, but you ought to make phone calls, go on the street or do whatever can bring you clients manually.
If you’re head of growth in a well established, well funded company, you can think about it as a viable strategy. Because you have the resources (both in time and money) to make it work. It all depends on the stage of your company.
Second criterion is, in essence, simpler. It’s just about you feeling like it. While this is especially true for founders, it also applies to employees. You will never be good at what you don’t like, period.
I’m often surprise when I hear people say they would like to improve on something they are notoriously bad at. Time is limited and you have to pick your fights. Why invest time to improve things where you are sub performing when you could focus on your strengths and excel at some specific areas of expertise?
Let’s take the content example I mentioned above. If you’re bad at writing, or don’t like it, then don’t do it. Content is a competition: you are fighting for people’s attention. If you’re bad at it, how will you perform in front of people who are better than you?
Any advice you receive might work some but not for you. Always try to put this in perspective. Of course, it shouldn’t be a way to be lazy. But - and that is especially true if you’re a founder - your work resembles you. If you force it, it will show.
I know it’s weird to give advice on receiving advice. But let’s say it’s just me telling you how I do it. Just think about whether it makes sense for you.
Oh, and I will try to write more. Or if I’m lazy I’ll pop up in Club House before I’m getting killed by my loved ones for spending too much time on it.