Startup 1: Week 2 – How I Built a Startup in a Week
Note: 4 Weeks to Launch is an ongoing series about building passive income across multiple startups — a new startup every 4 weeks. Read the first post on 4 Weeks to Launch to get started.
Week 1 has been hell from an emotional level, but I also made major progress; I built a startup in a week, booked my first sale, and messed up a lot on the way. This post is about what worked and didn’t work.
Progress at a glance:
|JFDI.Ninja – 1/30||2/15 Goal|
|Average Daily Revenue||$.40||$33.00|
|MAU (Monthly Active Users)||1||250|
|Average Daily Users||.3||17|
|see all metrics here|
How to build a startup in a week
What’s the strategy?
I aimed to keep the product dead simple so I could focus on quick progress. Because of this I also used little of my technical background. This experiment should be replicable by anyone, regardless of technical ability. Not using a lot of tech skills also helps keep the project going quickly.
To get started I brainstormed what the simplest version of the service would look like. Ask, “can I sell my product/service with only…”
- Pen and paper?
- A spreadsheet?
- A cell phone?
Almost all businesses can be boiled down one of these methods. Definitely not scalable running a business with just a cell phone, but for proof of concept? Definitely. Paul Graham founder of Y Combinator writes about it here. Stay scrappy. Don’t over-engineer anything. Go fast. I picked email as the best tool and began to build!
Step by step process
I always start with design to figure out what I’m thinking. I used a tool called Sketch which similar to Photoshop. If you don’t have design skills you can use Google Sites, Unbounce or Weebly but ultimately focus on speed not design.
Based on my mockup I used the barebones HTML to build my single landing page. If you need a good HTML responsive template, I used Skeleton CSS.
Sketch has a lot of plugins and I used a free one called Zeplin to export the CSS needed for the site. Saved a lot of time by not having to write any CSS by hand!
Again, I am razor focused on keeping the product as minimal as possible. Skeletal. What’s the barebones of a virtual assistant? Email. I built 3 email templates for the site for ordering a Task. Click the link from the website to place an order. Not scalable but definitely effective.
I already have a hosting account with Hostgator so I bought a new domain and wired everything up using an FTP client. Site = live.
Time to test the market! I sent the link to a few friends for feedback and 1 person ordered almost immediately! I completed the task within 24 hours and billed my friend, a successful transaction. And we’re a business that has create money! That’s more than Snapchat and Facebook can say about their first year, and it only took a week.
- Setup 4weekstolaunch.com to be it’s own blog/website. I plan on building out more resources links and content over time.
- Set up Google Analytics for both sites to I can get some juicy metrics
- Half set up a mailing list. Some people have been asking if they could get updates in their inbox
How to stay super fast–avoid these!
During week 1 I felt like I was floundering. Doing this solo is scary to say the least! I struggled with making time to 4WTL, but more importantly how to be effective with my time. Here’s what I struggled with:
Perfection. We want things to be perfect. It’s easier to continue to tweak something than to do the task you know you need to do. I definitely spent too much time on things that didn’t matter, trying to make them perfect. To be effective, get used to accepting ‘good enough’. You can always come back later.
The name. What’s in a name? I spent hours browsing different URLs that were available. The longer I browsed the more and more frustrated I got. Fed up, I picked JFDI.ninja and moved on. This isn’t my first child I’m naming here…So what is JFDI?
Startup culture has adopted Nike’s, “Just Do It” slogan and rebranded it as, “Just Fucking Do It”. Example: rather than spending hours searching for the perfect domain, just fucking do it–buy a URL and move on. Two of my friends have JFDI tattooed on their forearms, for real. (pic of them here of @alexhillman and @martinobranding)
Friends’ Feedback. Getting feedback is good but at the right time and place. Put your head down and get it done. Get feedback once you’ve gotten started and actually need it. Push past the desire to get validation from others and let your friends wait.
Distractions. Ever problematic with no easy answer. One tip to stay focused is plan your work then work your plan. I spend 30 minutes on Sunday planning out my week, day by day. It helps to not feel overwhelmed and helps to know what I’m doing when I wake up Thursday.
Work/Life Balance. What’s work life balance for an entrepreneur? Moving on…
- Spent too long emailing people.
- Started reply to emails with bullets.
- I like it.
Metrics & goals
This week’s plan/goals
Focus: Refine Product (weekly goals link)
Revenue Goal: 4 orders in 1 day
This week I need to get feedback and users. I’ll be hustling to promote JFDI.ninja all across the web. If you have suggestions, feedback let me know! If you want to annihilate your to do list go to JFDI.ninja and click Book Now.
Want to talk to me live?
- Would it be interesting to see me livestream? If so, what should I stream?
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Let me know your thoughts in a comment!
P.S. Special thank you AJ (aka Dr. Doom) and Goodwin for all the support!