Tales from a 'failed' start-up

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

31 lessons learned and a cautionary tale of hope.


It is not the prettiest article I’ve written, but I think it's the most helpful to-date.


31 lessons learned the hard way over 4 years as I tried and failed (so far📈), to build a thriving online community.


If you are thinking of going - or have already gone - out on your own as a consultant, coach, or wannabe entrepreneur this article is for you. If you are thinking of investing your time in a side hustle, designing an app, or creating a community, there are valuable lessons here.


Before you ask, would I do it again? 110%. Would I do it differently. 110%.


Those are two important questions, but the most important question to ask is whether or not I'm happier and healthier now, than I was 4 years ago.


110% 💥


Click any of the links below to go directly to that lesson.


1. Find mentors (dead or alive), 2. Get advice from Google, 3. Ask for advice, 4. Pay for advice, 5. Use online marketplaces to save money and time, 6. Create a team, 7. Treat your start-up like a science experiment, 8. Never forget the 2x Rule, 9. Don’t forget sales and marketing, 10. Create your own luck by taking small risks, 11. Remember the Stockdale Paradox, 12. Redefine success, 13. Read a lot, 14. Do it for the right reasons, 15. Work with people you like, 16. Start small, 17. Don’t build an app, 18. Create a ‘coalition of the willing’, 19. Trust your gut, 20. Manage your time, 21. Manage your stress levels, 22: Always give back, 23: Detach from the outcome, 24: Don’t forget fun, 25: Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint, 26. Crowdfund for the right reasons, 27: Create better habits, 28. Build boundaries, 29: Develop an abundance and collaboration mindset, 30: Remember there is a well-trodden path to follow, 31. Focus on fuzzy vision


It’s a long list, but not exhaustive, so if you have any lessons to add share them in a comment so we can learn from you. If you have any questions or want me to expand on any lessons just ask.


The lessons are not listed in any order of importance, and the idea is that you can dip in and out of the article in your own time. So I suggest you bookmark it for later.



1. Find mentors (dead or alive)

“What if I assembled a tribe of mentors to help me?” Tim Ferriss


I'm starting with this quote because in some ways Tim Ferriss is the apex predator of mentors. He’s made a career out of talking about and sharing his knowledge of mentors. Here is a select list of mentors that I’ve received advice from lately:

  • Tim Ferriss

  • Ram Dass

  • Jim Collins

  • Lao Tzu

  • James Stockdale

  • Marcus Aurelius


4 of these people are dead. Mentors don’t have to be someone you know, or even alive to give you advice.


There are millions of amazing people in the world just waiting to become one of your mentors. So, don’t limit yourself to people in your network.


A case in point for me is Marcus Aurelius, he is one of my mentors and he has been dead for over 1,800 years. Ideally, you have a few mentors in your personal network. But you should also find hyper-successful people (dead or alive) whose lessons resonate with you.



2. Get advice from Google

“For business, our internet love affair was a gift from the gods.” Gary Vaynerchuk


Before you pay for advice or ask your network the wrong questions, use the internet and the millions of sources available – like this article – to get advice. There is free info about almost anything and everything you need to know about starting a business online. I never pay for advice until after I have first done my homework using Google.



3. Ask for advice

“Be careful who you get advice from. I get advice from people who are where I want to be.” Robert T. Kiyosaki


Once you have some good questions don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your network. There are hundreds of people that have given me their valuable time and advice over the past 4 years. From ex-colleagues, the Surf Club, personal network, wife’s friends, school friends, so many people have helped me it is humbling.


Importantly, when asking for advice be as specific as possible about what you’re looking for so as not to waste your contact’s time. And try and give them something in return for their advice, whether that’s simply a thank you email, a bit of advice of your own, or a small gift (at the very least pay for the coffee!).



4. Pay for advice

“A consultant is someone who saves his client almost enough to pay his fee.” Arnold H. Glasgow


Yes, I’ve had great advice from my network. But, paid advice from a specialist can help you take a step change and/or create the clarity you need to move forward.

My recommendation is to a] do the research and planning yourself first, then b] get free advice from your network, and finally c] get paid advice.



5. Use online marketplaces to save money and time

“There are two fools in every marketplace; one asks too little, one asks too much.” Alan Sugar


My brother-in-law and business partner Jez taught me this lesson (more about him later 🦸‍♂️).

There are good online marketplaces out there - Fiverr is my favourite - where you can outsource work that you’re not very good at. Or get expert (and some not so expert) advice for a relatively low investment.


I’ve mostly used online marketplaces for help with creative, design, technical marketing, and specialist consulting. Think website developers, designers, graphic design, branding, SEO, SEM, content creation [be careful outsourcing certain content as you need to remain authentic], digital collateral, social media, etc.


A word of caution; it can take some time to find the right contractor or consultant on these platforms. As I’m based in Australia, the contractors are more cost effective than I can get locally, sometimes less than 20% the investment. But you need to be prepared for some trial-and-error when finding a good contractor. My advice is if it’s a simple / short task that you’re capable of completing yourself, then you might be better off doing it yourself rather than outsourcing (due to the set-up, management, and transaction cost [time and money]).


However, if it’s a bigger job, completely out of your skillset, or ongoing work, then using an online marketplace can save you a lot of heartache and money.



6. Create a team

“Great things in business are never done by one person, they are done by a team of people” Steve Jobs


One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in business was calling my brother-in-law Jeremy (Jez) Horne mid-2017 and asking him if he could help me out with the digital side of my first business idea “The Cave Network”.


Since then, we’ve gone into business together and are joint partners in MVLS Digital. We’ve spent more money than we’ve earned (don’t ask!), had heaps of fun, and made plenty of mistakes along the way (probably more me than him 🙄).


I’m not a fan of analysing my past, because other than learning lessons from it, there’s almost zero value thinking about it. However, this article is an exception. Speaking of exceptions, when it comes to Jez, I know for a fact that I would have stopped long ago if I didn’t have him in my corner. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have started.


Having someone in your corner (if not a business partner, then a trusted advisor) who can share your start-up journey is important. Yes, you can do it on your own, however, it is much easier with someone in your corner.


Jez has been and I believe will continue to be one of the few people I turn to for advice when the sh#t is really hitting the fan (rather than just a light dusting 💩).



7. Treat your start-up like a science experiment

“Testing leads to failure. Failure leads to understanding.” Burt Rutan


Many of you will get this, and we thought we had got it too. However, it turns out that our version of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) was wrong.


We over developed our product and spent too much time and money producing what we thought was an MVP. In hindsight I think we should have launched and tested a more basic MVP earlier.


The trick is to treat your start-up like a science experiment (thanks James Stewart for this tip). An example of an experiment’s steps are:

1. Research

2. State your hypothesis

3. Design your experiment

4. Conduct your experiment

5. Collect data

6. Draw conclusions

7. Go back to step 1 and start again


Importantly, this isn’t only about validation and aiming for product market fit. It’s also about making sure you leave enough time and money in the bank for you to invest in the selling and marketing of your business (refer to the next lesson).



8. Never forget the 2x Rule

“Most people overestimate what they can do in 1 year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years.” Bill Gates


Following on from no. 7 above, remember that almost everything you do will take twice as long, and cost at least twice as much as you think it will. What the heck, some stuff might even take ten times as long as you thought it would.


Forget the 2x Rule at your peril - build it into your business plan.



9. Don’t forget sales and marketing

“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” Joe Chernov


This lesson is so ironic 😂, considering that before going out on my own I was in B2B sales for nearly 25 years, I teach sales strategy, and my wife is a Chief Marketing Officer and teaches marketing at University.


It's a quick and painful lesson, don’t forget that even if your product is the best in the world, it doesn’t mean sh#t if no one knows about it.


Remember that you will need to allocate more time and money to sales and marketing than you think you will. Don’t ever forget that.


And even if like me you enjoy sales and marketing, it might be the hardest thing you’ll have to do. A few ideas on how to sell and market your product:

  • Understand who your audience is and their pain points

  • Give value

  • No matter how many problems you solve, prioritise one in your messaging

  • Try to be a painkiller rather than a vitamin (vitamins are ‘nice to have’, painkillers are ‘must haves’)

  • Think about all the objections your audience may have to purchasing your product, then answer them in your messaging

  • Test, test, test


10. Create your own luck by taking small risks

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Seneca the Younger


I learned years ago that ‘lucky’ people make their own luck by thorough planning, practice, preparation, and taking small risks.


Creating your own luck is not a fairy story you tell your grandkids. And the science backs this up because research has proven that lucky people on average simply take more risks than ‘unlucky’ people. The types of risks I’m talking about are small ones that just about anyone can take to create new opportunities.


Examples:

  • Talking to a stranger

  • Learning a new skill

  • Admitting you don’t know something

  • Putting your hand up when your boss asks for help

  • Asking more questions

  • Volunteering at a local event / club

  • Doing something that scares you

  • Asking for advice

  • Having a difficult or vulnerable conversation

  • Giving advice

  • Creating content and post it



11. Remember the Stockdale Paradox

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end… with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.” Admiral James Stockdale


The Stockdale Paradox was popularised by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. It sums up a one type of mindset that an entrepreneur / start-up founder should have.


It’s first about confronting the brutal facts of your current reality, of being realistic of your situation, the obstacles and opportunities that exist. I’ve had to learn the hard way the importance of this mindset, and confronting brutal facts, it’s not easy but it’s worth it.

The second part is that regardless of the brutal facts, you must have faith in your vision and purpose (go to Lesson 31 to learn about fuzzy vision).


At some point in your journey, it's likely you’re going to end up neck deep in sh#t and struggling to breathe. If your journey is like mine this will happen more than once.


You will have to confront the brutal fact that you may not survive. You’ll have to ask yourself “Should I continue?” And that’s where faith comes in. Not faith in God (he/she won’t pull you out of the sh#t), but faith that your vision and purpose are powerful enough to pull you out.


I remember 3 years ago when I almost became an Uber driver. Importantly, there is nothing wrong with being an Uber driver, however, that was not what I had envisioned for myself. At the time the brutal fact was that the bank manager had come knocking (it’s likely he’ll come a knocking more than once). I was forced to confront the brutal fact that I had to find an alternative source of income and quickly.


Thankfully with faith, effort, luck, and the support of my beautiful wife and family (morally and financially) I never needed to complete my Uber application. However, I was prepared to if I had to.


Since 2017, I’ve been neck deep in the sh#t a few more times. And each time by confronting the brutal facts of my current reality, putting steps into place to overcome obstacles, and having faith in my vision, I’ve been able to pull myself out of it (with a little bit of help from my family, friends, and lady luck).



12. Redefine success

“It doesn’t matter if you are a builder, barista, baker or banker. You are a success if you are improving yourself and your community, end of story.” Gareth Robinson


If you watch, listen, or read my content you have likely heard me talk about redefining success. Success has nothing to do with what you do for a living, it’s how you do it that counts.


I could talk all day about redefining success, it’s an important lesson and one way you can better manage stress levels.


Once you redefine your definition of success - and link it to your purpose and values - you care less about whether you achieve what you originally set out to achieve. In fact, you realise you can do something else completely, and still be a success.


You can become a builder, barista, baker, or banker, and still be a success if you are living how you want to live, improving yourself, and contributing to your community 👏🏽.


If you want to know more about this Lesson, check out Step 1 in our 3-Step guided Coaching Program.



13. Read a lot

“Not all readers are leaders. But all leaders are readers.” Harry S. Truman


If you want to get better at anything, then read about it, and read or listen to people that have been there before. To experts in their field.


If you’re not reading, you’re not giving yourself the best chance of success. If you’re dyslexic or a poor reader then listen to books. And if you find a book that resonates, don’t be afraid to read it more than once. Also, write notes and highlight important passages on the pages of a book you’re reading to learn something (the author will love you for it).


Another tip is once you find an author you like, see what other authors and books they recommend, because you may like them too.


Speaking of recommendations, here is my list of 50+ books that have shifted the dial in my life over the past 5 years: Books That Will Make a Difference in Your Life



14. Do it for the right reasons

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'” Martin Luther King, Jr.


It is OK to dream of of 10x’ing your income, creating the ‘next big thing’, or becoming an inspirational CEO. It’s OK to want financial freedom, to be able to afford those overseas holidays, drive a nice car, buy jewellery for your partner.


But along the lines of what the Stoics teach us, and Lesson 12 above, do not confuse external material goals with your vision or purpose. They should be separate.


Therefore, if you are staring your entrepreneurial journey, make sure you are doing it for the right reason. You shouldn't be wishing to become the next Elon Musk, Arianna Huffington, Gary Vee, or Richard Branson (those jobs are taken). But, because it’s what you want to be doing, it’s how you want to be living, and ideally, it’s also how you believe you can best give back.



15. Work with people you like

“Compromise, communication, and consistency are needed in all relationships, not just romantic ones.” Unknown


The great thing about working for yourself, or becoming a founder, is you can usually choose who you want to work with. You have more control over work relationships.

My recommendation is choose people you like, with similar values, and positive can-do attitudes.


That doesn’t mean you build a team of 'mini me’s'. I once heard Patty McCord from Netflix fame, once say in an interview, that a classic hiring error she used to see in Silicon Valley, was that some founders hired people exactly like them. To state the obvious, you then risk losing the diversity you need for a workplace to be successful.


Aim for similar attitudes and values, but hire for diversity.



16. Start small

“Don’t reach for the stars. Reach for the spanner that builds the rocket.” Gareth Robinson


One way to ensure that you are successful, and achieve what you want to achieve, is to plan and set small realistic goals. Build out your strategic plan, including smaller milestone goals.

The ‘Shotgun strategy’ almost never works, aim for the ‘Strategic Staircase model’ instead.

Speaking of progress, when the going gets tough focus on momentum, not your future-focused Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).


We love BHAGs at Mindhabit, but sometimes they can have a demotivating affect. I recommend you have a BHAG, but then create smaller goals, objectives, and activities that 'live' under your BHAG. Then, focus on the activities that will help you achieve your objectives (the activities you have control over). The objectives completed achieve your goal(s), which then ultimately delivers your BHAG.


Sidebar: If you want any help with building out a Strategic Staircase model for your life or business, reach out to us at Mindhabit.



17. Don’t build an app

"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." This quote has been attributed to Albert Einstein, but it is unclear that he ever said it.


I am only half joking here 😬.


We built and launched a pretty good app (in iOS and Android), however, in hindsight, we could have achieved a better outcome at 50% of the investment in time and money (roughly). This would have allowed us to pivot faster and invest more in sales and marketing (Lesson 8). We would have had less bumps along the way, and be further along than where we are today (with the app that is [the app has only been part of the journey]).


I guess this lesson is a combination of a few of the other lessons:

7] Treat your start-up like a science experiment

8] Never forget the 2x Rule

9] Don’t forget sales and marketing

16] Start small


In summary:

  1. Use some form of strategic planning model

  2. Don’t overcommit from an R&D point of view

  3. Find the simplest way possible to create and then validate your MVP

  4. Test, test, and test some more



18. Create a ‘coalition of the willing’

“Family are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.” Les Dawson


Creating a coalition of the willing is step 2 in Kotter’s classic 8 step process for leading change.

In this case, I’m talking about having a ‘coalition of the willing’ from among your family, friends, and loved ones.


I’ve already mentioned you should not (it’s almost a cannot) do this on your own. In the case of your loved ones, you cannot expect them to understand or be with you for every step of your journey. It’s unrealistic and a little bit stupid to expect them to be as passionate about your path as you are, or even hold your hand the whole way. However, they need to be willing to join you on the journey. They need to be in your corner with a drink bottle and towel, because you will need their support along the way.


Without the support of my wife and family over the past 4 years, I could never have done what I’ve done. It’s that simple.



19. Trust your gut

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” Leonardo Da Vinci


You need to plan, prepare, and practice. And as I’ve said above, you should get advice from Google, your network, mentors, and professionals as you are starting (and continuing) along your journey.


However, sometimes you need to trust your gut and just ‘do’. You need to back yourself and take that leap of faith. Sometimes intuition is a better choice than intelligence.


That doesn’t mean you go off on some hairbrained crazy scheme or take massive risks. My recommendation is that you complete your due diligence, follow some form of strategic planning model, then start taking small steps and risks.


By doing this if your intuition is wrong (which it sometimes is), you’ll only get a grazed knee from your fall, rather than end up in traction for three months 🦵.



20. Manage your time

“Time isn’t the main thing. It’s the only thing.” Miles Davis


Unlike working for another organisation, working for yourself you will likely have less structure in your day. You need to be disciplined with your time management.


Working in the post-covid world, it’s likely your home is a little busier than it used to be during the week. You probably have less space and time to yourself. Recognising that, the great thing about time management is that there are simple techniques you can adopt, to help you become more productive.


Here are a few simple ones I like:

1. Plan your week ahead during the weekend. Sounds so simple, however, how many of you spend 15-min every weekend planning your week ahead.

2. Waking up early. I don’t do this every day, however, 3 - 4 days of the week I’m at work before 6.30am, it’s incredible how much you can achieve before 9am with an early start.

3. Alternatively, simply wake up 30 min earlier than you normally do, and you’ll create 4.5 normal working weeks (4.5 x 40 hours) of time you didn’t think you had

4. Power naps 💤. When I’ve been up early, if my schedule and meetings permit, I have a 10 – 30 min power nap after lunch. This allows me to work through to early evening with better energy levels.

5. Create blocks of time so you can uni-task (so many time blocking options for you to choose from)


If you want to talk more about time management and becoming more productive, reach out to me.



21. Manage your stress levels

“Past is memory, future is imagination. Nice places to visit but you don’t want to live there.” Dan Millman


Working for yourself can be super-stressful, even when you’re doing what you love. You are often more emotionally tied to your job than if you’re working for someone else (‘Lesson 23. Detach from the outcome’ helps here).


At times over your journey its likely that you’ll struggle to pay the bills. You’ll be working in a less structured environment, with fewer guidelines on how to operate. You won’t have visibility of / or enough opportunities in, your sales pipeline to sleep well at night. And as your own boss, the buck stops with you. All valid reasons for high levels of stress.


Sound fun yet? Sidebar: it’s hard which is why it is important that you enjoy most of what you are doing, and have a strong purpose.


For these reasons and more managing your stress levels well is critical. I could talk about it all day (it’s one of the 3 areas we help our clients with) so if you are interested in stress management techniques reach out to me.


In the meantime, the main mindset shift you need to make to better manage your stress is in how you view time:

  • Past: do not let it define you

  • Present: Live more in the present (easier said than done), and when in the present don’t compare yourself to others

  • Future: Learn techniques to worry less about the future. Future events are not real (they haven’t happened yet), and our imagination often makes them appear to be worse than they are


A final and important point on stress management is to ensure you create rest or downtime for yourself. You can work almost every hour of the day, but that’s just plan stupid (put your ego back in it’s place big boy).


That’s why you need to be disciplined and give yourself breaks every day. You must look after your physical and mental health by learning effective stress management techniques, taking frequent movement breaks, and not working all hours under the sun. You also need to find activities (outside of your work), that give you peace, energy, and joy. Whatever floats your boat, make sure you build in ‘me time’ into your weekly schedule to spend on those activities.

Because whatever you achieve in business will be worth a big fat ZERO if you burnout, become anxious, depressed, or have a breakdown.


Caveat here is that while I realise sometimes you need to burn the candle on both ends to get things done. You also need to remember that is not a long term success strategy.


And don't forget that there are 168 hours in the week. So, if you can’t find 8 hours out of 168 to invest in yourself (investing in yourself is the best investment you’ll ever make), then you’re acting stupid*.


*Message me if you think I’m wrong, and I’ll show you why I’m right.



22: Always give back

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill


This lesson fits in nicely with ‘Lesson 14: Do it for the right reasons.’


You always get back more than you give, no matter how busy you are or how stressed, remember to help people out and give back to your community.


If you don’t have money, you can give time or advice. If you don’t have time, give money. Whatever you give, it doesn’t have to be big. But I do think that you should give consistently.

When you’re giving, try to make sure that you’re not giving with the expectation of receiving. This can be a tricky one, however, be honest with yourself, check that you are giving freely and with no expectation to get anything back. That’s the best kind of giving! The great thing is, that if you give with no expectations, often you get more back anyway. 🎁


Here are a few simple ways you can give:

  • Volunteer at a community organisation, club, or one-off event

  • If a parent, help with your kid(s) sports team in any capacity you can

  • Be a good neighbour (so many options here)

  • Share your knowledge online (I’m a case in point)

  • Do something nice for a friend or colleague



23: Detach from the outcome

“Detachment does not mean non-involvement. You can be deeply involved but not entangled.” Jaggi Vasudev


If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be writing an article titled “Tales from a ‘failed’ start-up” I would have been devastated. After 4 years effort and investment it still hurts, but I can honestly say it doesn’t hurt that much.


Part of the reason it doesn't hurt much is that it’s not over (it’s called a temporary setback my friends 👍). The other reason is that I’ve developed my Detached Mindset.


At Mindhabit we believe there are 4 Success Mindsets that you need to work on so you can develop your true potential; 1. Positive, 2. Detached, 3. Growth, and 4. Disciplined. If you develop your Detached Mindset, you can detach yourself from goals or outcomes you are aiming for. This allows you to not only be more relaxed, but more effective 💥.


To develop your Detached Mindset, you need to focus on the present, process, and momentum. These are elements you can control, compared to an outcome or goal in the future that you cannot. You still work towards the goal, however, you do not let the future obstacles - that may or may not be real - get in the way of you being effective and productive today.


The amazing thing about detaching from an outcome is that it gives you a better chance of achieving it! That’s because you worry less, think more clearly, and work more effectively towards achieving the outcome.


With this mindset you measure your success not on the destination, but on the journey you’re taking to get there. You measure your success on what you can control – on how you play the Game Of Life - rather than what you can't control (the trophies you’re trying to win).


If you want to find out how to develop your own Detached Mindset (or any one of our 4 Success Mindsets reach out to me).



24: Don’t forget fun

“Where has all the fun gone?” Zippy the Pinhead


I admit that sometimes over the past 4 years, I’ve forgotten to have fun.

Thankfully, in the past year I’ve learned from several of my mentors the importance of fun. In fact, one of the main points of life is to have fun. It’s as simple as that.


There should be no argument from anyone - life should be fun🏄🏽‍♂️🤡😎⚽🕺🏽🧘‍♀️💛😋🏉.


I get it, life sometimes serves you a sh#t sandwich and tragedies happen every day. I lost one of my closest friends to suicide this April, he was someone I grew up with, the Godfather of my son. Was that a tragedy? Hell yes, not just a tragedy but such a waste. Was I gutted? 100%. Am I wallowing in sadness, self-pity, or guilt that I should have been there more for him? Nope, because after the appropriate mourning I know he would have wanted me to move on and continue to have fun.


Remember, no matter what happens to you, you have a choice on how you view that event and react (more wisdom from the Stoics). However, it's unrealistic to think you can have fun every minute of the day, or even every day of the week. But, it is super-important from a mental wealth perspective to build fun into your day.


Personally, I don’t see why companies don’t have a ‘fun metric’, that measures their employee satisfaction and company success. Not only is a fun workplace more fun (duh), but employees who are having more fun are more effective.


It’s a scientific fact that happier brains are more effective brains. So, for all you goal-orientated number crunchers out there, remember that if your employees are having fun they will perform better 🎯.



25: Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Haruki Murakami


Like the 2x Rule, whatever you are building will take longer than you think. Or it will at least 99 % of the time. Ask anyone that has built anything of reasonable size and they’ll tell you. Having run two marathons, I know they are hard to train for and harder to finish. Starting a new business is harder, so you need to set realistic expectations and be prepared to play the long game…


Like training for a marathon, you need to have a clear and structured plan, start small, and train consistently. You need to build in recovery time, practice with purpose (ask me if you want to find out more about our 4-Step Purposeful Practice Process), and have a good support team around you.


And of course, it’ll be easier if you like running in the first place!


Final point in this lesson is that, as many of you already know, overnight success almost never happens overnight. 99.9% of the time 'overnight' successes take time, effort, planning, hard work, luck, wins and losses, and a fair amount of grit before they become ‘overnight’ successes.



26. Crowdfund for the right reasons

“If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them.” Jeff Brooks


Crowdfunding is great, just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons (I don’t think it should only be about the money honey).


We ran a successful crowdfunding campaign for Thriverapp late 2020 - we hit 114% of our funding target. In hindsight (man hindsight is a lesson in and of itself), it took at least twice as long and was much harder than I expected. Knowing that, if our only goal was funding, crowdfunding would have been a bad decision.


Our Kickstarter campaign wasn’t perfect, but it was one thing I think Jez and I got right. We had 3 main goals; 1. to raise funds, 2. validate our MVP, and 3. build awareness of the App.

We managed to do all of the above, so while it was much harder than I thought it would be, it was a successful campaign with good ROI ☺.


Although, one lesson and disappointment for me (let it go Gareth, let it go), was that we did not get much support from the Kickstarter community. By that I mean we only got about 10% of pledges through Kickstarter, the rest all came from our hard work and marketing. We knew there was no guarantee, however, we had hoped that we would get, as some people told us, at least 40% of pledgers from the platform. So, the final part of this lesson is not to rely on the crowdfunding platform to get you many pledgers (it may happen, but don’t rely on it).


27: Create better habits

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." Will Durant


As a habit coach I can hardly forget habits!


The surprising fact we learned during our research at Thriverapp, was how common certain daily habits were among the world’s most extraordinary athletes, artists, and icons. Most of them did one form or another of what we ended up calling The Five-2-Thrive Habits. There was no secret sauce found (maybe a little), they simply did some form of these 5 habits every day to live successful and fulfilled lives. Of course, these extraordinary people also enjoyed what they did, had talent, practised deliberately, and had some luck. 🍀


We learnt that if just about anyone spends a little bit of time every day developing a habit within each of these disciplines below, they’ll become better, stronger, healthier, and happier.

1. Meditation / mindfulness

2. Movement / exercise

3. Giving

4. Eating smart

5. Rest / sleep



28. Build boundaries

“If you’re offended by my boundaries, then you’re probably one of the reasons I need them.” Steve Maraboli


Build boundaries both in your work and play space so that you can be as productive. Clear boundaries give you the time and space you need to get your job done. As with ‘Lesson 20: Manage your time’, boundaries also help you uni-task and complete deep work without being disturbed.


Bear in mind that in this post-covid world, with more people working from home than ever, some of your boundaries may need to flex a bit…


Personally, I’ve found covid a challenge with my family at home much more often and home-schooling. Suddenly I was dealing with a house full of people. When your working environment is disrupted you need to make sure some of your boundaries remain solid with deep moats around them, while others flex like bamboo.


Flexibility is important, but make sure you stick with a few boundaries you need to maintain your momentum and business growth. Shore up those boundaries as some of your other’s become more flexible.



29: Develop an abundance and collaboration mindset

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” Wayne Dyer.


This is straight out of Deepak Chopra’s playbook. Try to view the world with an abundance rather than scarcity mindset. I’ve found this is not always easy, so I’ve had to use mantras, cues, and affirmations to remind myself that there is enough abundance out there for everyone.


Take your abundance mindset, then put your ‘collaboration lenses’ (viewing life as a collaboration rather than competition) on, and 100% you’ll be more successful.


I know when I started my first consultancy, I often had a scarcity mindset and wore competitive lenses. I viewed my professional network and business relationships with the wrong mindset, and saw many of my network as competitors rather than collaborators.


In hindsight, I know I missed out on business opportunities because of this.

If you view business and life as a collaboration rather than a competition, not only will you have more fun, but you will also find more opportunities 🌳.



30: Remember there is a well-trodden path to follow

“The summit is what drives us, but the climb itself is what matters.” Conrad Anker


Don’t be fooled by your ego into thinking that no one has done what you are trying to do.

He (your ego is a man) might tell you that you’re like Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay climbing Mount Everest in 1953 for the very first time.


However, for 99.9% of us we’re climbing a path that others have already been on. And that’s great news (except for your arrogant ego)! There are people you can find that have been there before you. People who have made mistakes you can learn from, get advice and tips from (refer to ‘Lesson 1: Find mentors [dead or alive]’).


If you need more convincing about well-trodden paths, here are a few interesting facts about climbing Mt Everest:

  • There are 18 different routes (paths) you can use to reach the summit

  • Since 1953 over 4,000 people have successfully summited Everest

  • On 19 May 2012 over 234 people completed the climb successfully


31. Focus on fuzzy vision

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates


Fuzzy vision is having a clear vision but keeping it a little 'fuzzy' on the edges.


An example is that instead of having a vision saying: “I want to teach postgrad students at Sydney University.” You would have a vision that states: “I want to inspire youth through teaching.”


Another example of a fuzzy vision is my Personal Vision Statement: “To help people better manage their time, stress, and habits, improving their mental wealth.” When you unpack that, I could achieve my vision in many different ways…


And that's the power of a fuzzy vision - over a fixed crystal-clear one! It gives you an objective to aim for, but does not limit you to a specific role or goal. It means that you are more likely to find and create opportunities to live your vision (visions should be lived not achieved [bonus lesson 😉]).


Example: Imagine you’re an accountant with our first vision above: “To inspire youth through teaching.” Due to your life situation you need to stay in your job as an accountant. However, because you have a clear (but fuzzy) vision about teaching, you decide to start a mentoring program for your young colleagues. You also volunteer to coach your son’s football team. And finally, you pick up a sessional lecturing gig at Sydney University, teaching Accountancy to undergrads.


Now there is a great example of an ‘everyday accountant’ living their fuzzy vision 💥.



And that’s a wrap!


If you got value from this article please share, like or comment. And if you’re an Instagram fan, I’d love you to follow us on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/mindhabit_coaching/ as we’re growing our brand, and building a following organically on Instagram is not easy.


And as always, if you have any questions at all feel free to reach out.


Keep on learning and having fun.

Cheers,


Gareth

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