Issue #22                                                                                                                                          Web version
Why It Takes Years to Succeed Overnight


Hi <<First Name>>,

I didn't manage to finish the newsletter last week because of the holidays, but I hope you will enjoy this new issue.

Here's what you get:

First, I'm sharing a new book review! This time, it's on The Right It — a book you should certainly read if you're starting with a new product idea and want to test it (before spending a lot of time and money).

Second, you'll find a discussion on the time needed to build a startup. Hint: Rome wasn't built in a day.

Third, I've added a Buy Me a Coffee link! If you don't know what it is, go to the third section and I'll explain - perhaps you can use this tool too.

Fourth, in my continued search for improvement, you'll find 3 feedback links at the bottom. Please click and indicate whether you did (not) like this week's issue.

Have a great Tuesday <<First Name>>!


1. Book review - The Right It: Why So Many Ideas Fail and How to Make Sure Yours Succeed

Have you ever had an idea for a project or business that seemed so good in your head, but just didn't work out?

Probably, you have. In this book, the author (a former Director of Engineering at Google) discusses why so many ideas fail, and particularly, what to do about it!

I found it very insightful, and wrote a review of the book on my blog. So if you're working on an idea right now, read it!

Check out the article here


2. Why It Takes Years to Succeed Overnight

"How I earned $16K in 48 hours with my Software as a Service launch"

"I went from $0 to $20,145.92 in 2 months with a side project"

"At 17 years old I built a payments platform that has now processed more than $1.3M"

These are some headlines of articles from Indiehackers, an entrepreneurial community I often visit.

If you're anything like me and regularly read the news and articles about startups — or are a member of a community like Indiehackers — you're familiar with these kinds of success stories.

And again, if you're anything like me, these stories make you think and wonder.

"Why haven't I seen such quick success with my company? Why, after years of hard work, is my company (or other project) not as profitable as I hoped it would be? What am I doing wrong?"

While there are things you can learn from such stories, the truth is: Generally, success doesn't come overnight.

This applies to building a business, becoming a master painter, finding success in relationships — anything, really.

In short, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Did you know for instance that Netflix was founded in 1997? 1997!

Of course, the company didn't start with online streaming — in the 90s that wasn't even an option. It started with a 'rent-a-DVD-by-mail' service that would allow you to pick a DVD, receive it by mail, and send it back after you watched it.

It wasn't until 2007, 10 years later, that the streaming model was introduced; back then they had 7.5 million subscribers for their rent-a-DVD model. Another 10 years later, and the company reaches over 100 million subscribers. Currently, more than 180 million people watch Netflix globally.

This applies to many other well-known companies. Apple for example, started in 1976 and struggled throughout the 80s and 90s before Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997 (and launched the successful iMac).

Sure, there are examples of startups that experience hyper-growth too.

Airbnb went from founding to unicorn status (i.e. a company valued at over $1 billion) in just 2 years and 11 months., a kind of competitor to Amazon, reached this unicorn status in less than 4.

But in most of these cases, the work and resources that have been spent before the launch of the company are hidden. Hypergrowth startups like Airbnb and often have:
  • Very experienced founders,
  • Well-known investors as advisors,
  • A once-in-a-lifetime idea,
or a combination of all three.

For a 'normal' person like you or me, it would be great if we could imitate their success. But most of us don't have this incredible idea; aren't amazing founders; or don't have expert investors who want our company to succeed.

So what do we do? Well, as 'normal' entrepreneurs, we need to do two things. 1) Realize it takes time, and 2) Persevere.

The rule of thumb is that as a small business, it takes 2-3 years to become profitable, and 7-10 years to become successful.

So wherever you are on that journey, realize that — on average — building a business takes time.

And as I mentioned, this doesn't just apply to building a business. Most successful people, from LeBron James to Buzz Aldrin, spent years upon years of hard work, and blood, sweat and tears to get where they are now.

So realizing that on average, success takes time, is the first step.

Second, you need to persevere.

To come back to the Indiehackers community (a community I wrote about before), its founder once said:

Your whole goal is to not quit

This sentence encapsulates one common reason why many startups and entrepreneurs fail: the shiny object syndrome.

I've written about this extensively, but in short, the idea of the shiny object syndrome is that inherently, entrepreneurs like to build.

Personally, that's the reason why I do things. Why I write this newsletter, run a community for entrepreneurs, or why I'm trying my hand at creating a copywriting agency (more on that in a later issue).

It's just so cool to make something out of nothing. It's just you. You start with not much more than an idea in your head, and you actually make it into something that's live, out there, in the real world — that people can play with, enjoy, use, read, and share.

Going from idea (A) to 'something' (B) is often much more fun than going from 'something' (B) to 'something better but only very marginally so' (C). But the amount of time you need to go from A to B and from B to C is pretty much the same.

That's why so many people who want to create something — whether it's a business or a piece of music — don't actually make it to the finish line. They get distracted from their current project by something new that's much more exciting: A Shiny Object.

It requires a tremendous amount of effort and determination to push through when working on an old dull object. It's often not as fun as it used to be.

And in most cases, it's only when you DO push through and persevere, that's when you can actually create something that is valuable, useful, or (in line with this argument): successful. 

So it takes energy and time — and often, a lot of it — to build a successful (or at the least, profitable) business.

And I'm writing about this not just as a reminder to you, fellow entrepreneur, maker, or creator. But also as a reminder to myself.

Sure, when we read articles on Indiehackers, or listen to podcasts showcasing overnight success, we can enjoy them and learn from them.

But in the end, we shouldn't become jealous of what we don't have. Rather, we should see such successes as inspirations. They can inspire you and show what you can do if you work hard at something — if you persevere.

That, after all, is your job. Your whole goal is to not quit.


3. And then some — Buy Me A Coffee

A lot of stuff is freely available online. From Wiki pages to this newsletter. 

So over the past few years, several tools have become more common — these are specifically created to support people who freely publish information online; people who create amazing YouTube videos, host intriguing podcasts, or write mind-blowing essays.

Like Patreon and today's tool: Buy Me A Coffee.

Buy Me A Coffee is a tool that allows creators, writers, video editors, podcast hosts, and anyone else to easily link to a donation button.

This way, you can ask your readers/supporters for a small donation — in the form of a virtual coffee. It's not intrusive or screaming for attention (as advertisements sometimes do), but it's a friendly way to ask for support of what you're doing.

So if you're a creator, writer, maker, builder, or someone who regularly shares free advice, information or anything else — even online or online — take a look!

You can find my Buy Me a Coffee page there, and create your own.

Have a great week,

4. Did you enjoy this newsletter? (simply click!)

🤯 Yes - I liked it
😕 Meh - Average
😞 No - Almost no value

P.S. Know someone who would like to receive this newsletter? Send this newsletter and the subscribe link their way!
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