FASTer - Issue #117
Imagine that you have 30,000 days to live.
How do you want to spend them?
What do you want to achieve?
For young founders, the possibilities are endless. You have the opportunity to create your own destiny, to build a business that has a real impact on the world, and to live a life that is truly fulfilling.
But how do you make sure that you make the most of your time? How do you ensure that you achieve your goals and live a life that is intentional, purposeful, and meaningful?
The answer is simple: you need to plan.
A life plan is not just a set of goals. It's a roadmap for your life. It's a way of thinking about your future and making sure that you're on the right track.
When you create a life plan, you need to start by thinking about your values. What's important to you? What do you want to achieve in your life? Once you know your values, you can start to set goals that align with them.
Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, instead of saying "I want to be successful," you could say "I want to start a business that generates 20 jobs within the next five years."
Once you have your goals, you need to create a plan for how you're going to achieve them. This plan should include specific steps that you need to take, as well as a timeline for when you're going to take them.
It's also important to be flexible with your plan. Things don't always go according to plan, so you need to be prepared to adjust your course as needed.
Creating a life plan is not easy, but it's worth it. When you have a plan, you're more likely to achieve your goals and live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful.
Always know what season you are in. Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response and make our plan. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. All this sounds practical, common sensical, logical yet we live our lives in reverse. Know your plan for better outcomes.
Just living in the present solves for the present, project X years out and think does my idea today build out a company? Build what’s missing is a good add-on to, "build what others have missed". Randomly thinking of ideas alone, typically tends to lend to your filter bubbles and biases.
Entrepreneurship is something you learn by doing. If you are in university, stop obsessing about taking a course. Instead find something that lets you try out doing something. Learn about how to come up with viable organic ideas that are not self evident by working with those who have. Messy and tedious are your friends, un sexy and boring are your scale. Find things others stay away from because they are perceived to be dull. Everything doesn't have to be software dependent or related either, there are great opportunities in other areas too. Don’t be misguided.
Have crazy ambition & growth mind set, focus on the ideas as something with multiple innings & aim for 1% growth daily.Move the needle on something hard every day before you go to sleep. Don’t give up. Ideas without ambition are like working for some one and supplying them for free. Speed to decision is your moat if nothing else is; park your ego, fail fast, do wrong & re-calibrate vs doing nothing & suffering from analysis paralysis. Find collaborators & mentors, former gives you perspective & the latter to give you direction. Be ruthless with quality not people.
Cash flow is king, VC money is not, focus on things within your control, break-even is your friend, just eye balls aren’t. You won’t know till you try, beg borrow steal things you can’t afford from the people you know. Networks are key, build as many as you can & use others rails.
The easiest thing to do is ask, the worst that can happen is being turned down. Not is asking is criminal. Don’t hire ppl u cant afford unless they partner with you for a shared upside, have 6 months of kitchen money & risk only what you can recover from, to live an other day vs not being able to.
Dollar cost averaging may work in many markets, but it typically doesn’t when your own ship is sinking. Don’t make metrics to appease your self. If you are dying, go out quickly. Adapt to the changing market around you to find sticky things. In a time where most ppl are WFH globally. Find your niche.
Think subscription, think of what you want coming to you vs what people will go out to get. Don’t only think local, start from there, then regional and global. There is no shame in borrowing things that work elsewhere & localize them or take localized ideas and take them global.
Think of FBA, D2C, Subscriptions, Local Products, Niche areas when you think beyond local.
When thinking locally get out there to see whats happening and what you can effectively build a large business on. My favorite these days is unit cost economics of things we consume daily.
Keep this thought near you at all times when you are about to go to market “Price transparency is larger than you think. Capitalize on that vs trying to build yet an other disrupter in the distribution value chain. Be the small data person in a large data world, license your data, let others burn VC money to fulfill the needs of others.”
For your outcomes to change your thinking must too.
One New Thing (That you should know)
When crossword puzzles were first introduced to the US, they became an object of cultural hysteria. Newspapers warned of a crossword craze gripping the country's minds. The trend was described as an epidemic, a virulent plague, and a national menace.
The crossword puzzle fad received extensive attention, not all of it positive: In 1924, The New York Times complained of the "sinful waste in the utterly futile finding of words the letters of which will fit into a prearranged pattern, more or less complex. This is not a game at all, and it hardly can be called a sport ... [solvers] get nothing out of it except a primitive form of mental exercise, and success or failure in any given attempt is equally irrelevant to mental development."
Boring Stuff That Scales
In the era of big data, the concept of "small data" may seem underwhelming. However, when explored from a philosophical and business standpoint, small data holds immense potential for scaling outcomes. By analyzing real-world examples, you can uncover the transformative power of small data in your entrepreneurial journeys.
Niche Market Insights: While big data provides valuable macro-level insights, small data allows for a deeper understanding of niche markets. Consider the success story of Glossier, a beauty brand that disrupted the industry by leveraging small data. Founder Emily Weiss actively engaged with customers through social media platforms and in-person events, collecting qualitative feedback and insights. By listening closely to their target audience, Glossier developed products that precisely catered to their needs, resulting in a passionate community of customers and rapid scalability.
Personalization and Customer Experience: Small data can play a crucial role in personalizing customer experiences, driving customer satisfaction, and fostering brand loyalty. A prime example is Netflix, which leverages viewing data from millions of users to deliver personalized recommendations. By analyzing user behavior, preferences, and ratings, Netflix tailors its content offerings to individual viewers, enhancing their overall experience and encouraging long-term engagement. This personalized approach has been instrumental in Netflix's ability to scale globally and dominate the streaming industry.
User Feedback and Iterative Development: Small data can provide valuable insights during the product development process, enabling young founders to iterate and refine their offerings. One prominent example is Slack, the popular team communication platform. Slack actively gathers feedback from its user base, paying attention to feature requests and pain points. By utilizing this small data, Slack continuously improves its product, addressing user needs, and driving widespread adoption. This iterative approach has allowed Slack to scale rapidly and become a market leader in the collaboration space.
Microsegmentation and Targeted Marketing: Small data empowers young founders to identify microsegments within their target market, leading to more effective and targeted marketing strategies. Airbnb utilized small data to identify specific traveler personas and catered its marketing campaigns accordingly. By leveraging data on user preferences, travel habits, and demographics, Airbnb created personalized messaging and experiences for different segments. This approach allowed Airbnb to scale globally by attracting diverse audiences and creating tailored offerings for each market segment.
Operational Efficiency and Cost Optimization: Small data can reveal valuable insights for optimizing operational processes, reducing costs, and improving efficiency. For instance, Zappos, the online shoe retailer, utilized small data to refine its inventory management strategy. By analyzing customer purchase patterns and preferences, Zappos strategically stocked popular shoe sizes and styles, reducing inventory costs and improving order fulfillment speed. This operational efficiency allowed Zappos to scale rapidly while maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction.
While big data often steals the spotlight, the power of small data should not be underestimated. By focusing on niche market insights, personalization, user feedback, microsegmentation, and operational efficiency, young founders can unlock significant scaling opportunities. The success stories of Glossier, Netflix, Slack, Airbnb, and Zappos demonstrate the transformative potential of small data when harnessed intelligently. Embracing small data as a valuable asset, young founders can gain a competitive edge, drive growth, and create exceptional experiences for their customers.
What You Should Be Reading
If you read one business book this summer, let that book be about narcotics. You heard me right. There is a book (Narconomics) at the intersection of crime, economics, entrepreneurship, online retailing and law enforcement. That is a must read to understand how corporations are run and what optimization means in any cut throat business.
How To Run a Drug Cartel.
This book blew my mind. It got me hooked with incredible story telling.
Everything drug cartels do to survive and prosper they’ve learnt from big business.Brand value and franchising from McDonald’s, supply chain management from Walmart
— Faizan Siddiqi (@faizansiddiqi)
Oct 11, 2021
Monetize Your Time
By spending it wisely and learning from others. With the AI conversations in full throttle, I discovered a treasure trove of content that I wanted to share so you could monetize your time better.
OpenAI's Discord is literally a prompt goldmine.
It's where all the prompt nerds hang out and design the craziest prompts.
Here are the 10 best mega prompts I found in there:
— Moritz Kremb (@moritzkremb)
Jun 14, 2023
One Last Thing
I have been thinking a lot about The Entrepreneurial Lessons Hidden in Our Kitchens: Cooking as a Metaphor for Entrepreneurship. I love to cook and I feel it has had a positive impact on the way I operate as a founder, entrepreneur and later in life as an angel investor. Here are some of my thoughts.
Cooking our own food offers more than just delicious meals—it provides valuable insights into the world of entrepreneurship. From planning and execution to adaptability and creativity, the process of cooking parallels the journey of a young entrepreneur. There are many entrepreneurial lessons that can be gleaned from cooking, supported by research articles and real-life examples, aiming to inspire and educate young entrepreneurs in their pursuit of success.
Planning and Preparation: Just as a chef meticulously plans a menu and gathers ingredients before cooking, successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of strategic planning and preparation. Research by Shane and Venkataraman emphasizes the significance of opportunity recognition and feasibility analysis in the early stages of entrepreneurship. By conducting thorough market research, identifying target audiences, and outlining a clear business plan, young entrepreneurs can set a strong foundation for their ventures.
Example: Blue Apron, a meal kit delivery service, exemplifies the importance of planning. By curating recipes, procuring ingredients, and packaging them into convenient kits, Blue Apron established a successful business model that catered to the growing demand for convenient and home-cooked meals.
Adaptability and Resilience: In the kitchen, unexpected challenges frequently arise, requiring chefs to adapt and find creative solutions on the spot. Similarly, entrepreneurs must possess adaptability and resilience to navigate the ever-changing business landscape. Research by Sarasvathy highlights the significance of effectuation, where entrepreneurs leverage their existing resources and seize immediate opportunities, even in the face of uncertainty. This adaptive mindset enables entrepreneurs to adjust their strategies, pivot when necessary, and stay resilient amidst obstacles.
Example: Airbnb's early struggles and subsequent success demonstrate the importance of adaptability. Facing initial resistance from investors and the hotel industry, the founders adapted their approach, focusing on offering unique travel experiences and targeting specific niches. This adaptability allowed Airbnb to grow into a global hospitality behemoth.
Creativity and Innovation: Cooking encourages experimentation and creativity, as chefs strive to create unique flavor combinations and visually appealing presentations. Similarly, entrepreneurs must foster creativity and innovation to differentiate their products or services in a competitive market. Research by Baron (2004) emphasizes the role of creativity in entrepreneurship, highlighting that creative thinking enables entrepreneurs to identify new opportunities, develop novel solutions, and disrupt established industries.
Example: The Cronut, a hybrid croissant-doughnut pastry invented by Dominique Ansel, exemplifies culinary creativity leading to entrepreneurial success. By combining two beloved treats into a single innovative creation, Ansel garnered worldwide attention, attracting long queues of customers and catapulting his bakery to fame.
Attention to Detail and Quality: Master chefs pay meticulous attention to every detail, from ingredient selection to precise cooking techniques, to ensure the highest quality culinary experience. Similarly, entrepreneurs must prioritize quality in their offerings to build a strong reputation and customer loyalty. Research by Parasuraman, Zeithaml, and Berry emphasizes the importance of service quality and customer satisfaction in driving business success.
Example: Sweetgreen, a fast-casual restaurant chain, places a strong emphasis on quality ingredients and sustainable practices. By sourcing local, organic produce and offering customizable, nutritious salads, Sweetgreen has built a loyal customer base that values their commitment to quality and sustainability.
Bonus! Thought of the week
The origin of things especially words and nomenclature fascinate me. I recently came across the origin of 20 English words with roots in Arabic.
For 1000 years, Arabic was the primary international language of commerce, scholarship & politics, much as English is today. Over the centuries, English adopted many words that were borrowed directly from Arabic
Here are 20 English words with Arabic origins… http
— Bayt Al Fann (@BaytAlFann)
Jun 21, 2023