Level 2 - Can I Respec, Please?

When I play a new game, I will often set it on its hardest setting and see what happens. Usually, if it has a lot of stat management, (Witcher 3) perk lists, (Fallout 4) or intricate crafting options and crushing time management, (Don't Starve) I will play for a bit and then start all over again once I have an idea of what's going to useful. If only life were that way...

Several months back, I was attending a LinkedIn Local event. I was thinking of leaving my day job, but knew I would want to keep income coming in, so it was time to do some networking. I was thinking I could start a business of some flavor and do some contract coding work to keep the lights on.

While at the event, the book "$100 Startup" by Chris Guillebeau was recommended to me, and completely out of character for me I followed through and bought it. A lot of it was the usual inspirational, "They did it, so can you," that you would expect, but some of the advice really resonated.

The main take away was to do the bare minimum (my favorite) to get to your first sale. You get plenty of do overs when your company is just you and no one has ever heard of it. For the most part I pursued that quick start track. 8 weeks later I had a site, a product, and most importantly that first sale.

This is not to say I could not have focused my efforts differently and maybe gotten better results if I had done more pre-launch hype, and especially if I have spent more of those 8 weeks doing better market research. Some beliefs that were shattered after starting up:

Belief: People are like me and they buy their coffee in small lots and like to grind their own coffee for peak freshness. Reality: I have gotten a lot of requests for pre-ground coffee and if I want to sell to businesses I really have to sell grounds. Sell what people want to buy!

Belief: I need really slick packaging to differentiate my brand with an awesome logo right out of the gate. Reality: Sorry, Stephen, but so far initial sales have not needed any of that. While I got a great deal by bulk ordering a years worth of bags with printed logos, it actually would have cost me less up front to print labels on bags from Amazon and forgo cool branding.

Belief: Mugs are good branding, I should order a bunch and they will sell well and I'll know who my fans are. Reality: This has actually proven true while starting up and selling to mostly friends and family, but I hope long term they do just as well. Otherwise, I have a house full of mugs and I never wanted to get into the warehousing business.

All in all, while there are some things I would change were I to start up again, I still feel things are on the right track. Start small, really small, but just big enough to make that first sale. If you do that starting over after a respec is not so painful.