As you may or may not know, we have been working on building an online brand called Redendron for four years now and this journey has taught us a great many things about building a business. No, this is not a success story but rather some insights we have collected from the good and bad decisions we have made in the past few years or so, which now seems quite clear to us. Therefore, we urge you not to take any of this as a one size fits all advice or a map to follow, instead, you could treat it as a compass.
So this article is going to be quite different than many entrepreneurship blogs or podcast you might hear. Well, this might sound silly but it could also sound very different than most business books you have read. Mostly because this is our story and the learnings are from our journey building Redendron, and I will try to be as clear, concise and no bullshit as possible.
Looking at the title of this article, you might wonder if there is going to be a sequel to this post. Well, there might actually be one or more, considering the sheer amount of things we would be sharing as we move along this journey to bridge the gap between passion and profit. However, it is no way written with the motive to leave something behind for a different post, which suffices to say that I will be sharing all that we know or have known so far in this article itself.
Without further ado.
- Myth: Fail and learn.
Reality: Failure sucks, so move on:
One of the biggest myths or advice I hear being thrown around often these days is this idea about loving failure. Failure is something that is being romanticised not just in entrepreneurship but various other fields when in fact, there is nothing empowering about failure or being lost. Real life, as much as business is a little bit more complicated than a boxing ring with a single opponent. And there’s no way in hell you could be Rock Balboa, who are we kidding?
Romanticizing failure is to set yourself up for eating dirt and let’s face it, falling face-first doesn’t feel very good – it is like saying that preparedness is useless when that just might be exactly what we need. We experienced a shift in our beliefs a few months ago when we were heavily motivated to build a product that we expected would be bought by a large majority of people and the only thing we had to do was add more value to it. It seemed so easy and man were we ready to fail and to learn.
Well, you guessed it. The product failed because of a lot of reasons, and I can’t even begin to fathom one because the whole approach was ridiculous. There was no pre-conceived plan to prepare for when shit hit the fan – and we ended up crash landing on our faces.
You have to treat failure as a failure because you can’t learn anything by trying to deconstruct the reasons why you couldn’t catch the roadrunner while falling off a cliff. We cannot deconstruct a failure while we are experiencing, as any average human being would find themselves indulging self critically while doing so. Instead, what we have found works better is to choose a completely different route (looking at a different domain that needs improvement) and to go along that path. We did have those moments when our plan wouldn’t work out and we would all sit around a table trying to discuss what went wrong and what could we do to stop it from getting worse? And after the session was over, we felt empowered and our ego boosted and we ended up doing the same mistakes over again. But now, the question we would rather emphasize upon, whenever we are faced with failure (not setbacks) is, “What is something I am forgetting to focus on?”.
This shifts the mindset from analysis paralysis to Action Jackson. And that is how we started the Creator’s Toolkit. To be honest, there’s not much to boast about right now but this does feel significantly more worth it than our previous product.
You can only deconstruct a failure or learn from it when you are detached from the problem as dissociation gives perspective. Working on the Creator’s Toolkit, we can now see the mistakes we have made in our first product and much of the learning has gone into building this new one, but that was only when we had decided to move to a completely different direction without trying to deconstruct it while we were failing.
It is important to make plans and to prepare for failure but it is totally useless to put out a fire with a spoonful of water because, let’s face it, we aren’t quite in the right state of mind to learn from our failure in that particular instant. When things do fall apart, don’t cling to the thing itself but divert your attention to other areas that need improvement. One key area that we will be spending some time on will be writing these blogs as often as possible and to engage with you all via email. Engaging with you all is something that has kept us passionate throughout this journey and we would love to talk more and help you if there is something of value that we can give to you.
I have a ton of good e-books on my desktop that has helped me from losing myself all other the place, so if you want me to mail them to you for free, you can send us an email.
- Myth: Emulate the success stories
Reality: Every story is unique.
Nobody even has time to sit and chat for a few seconds these days, since everything is a side hustle. We have all watched a Gary Vaynerchuk video once in a while and felt that fire inside our belly to go and crush our to-do list every single day. We somehow drag ourselves to overwork or “hustle”, for about two to three weeks and after that, we are back to munching Cheetos at 3 am watching Housewives.
We somehow find a sense of meaning and purpose when we are busy, jumping erratically from one task to the other and to eventually find out that nothing of importance has been done or the progress doesn’t seem to be directly proportional to the sum of our blood, sweat and tears. Being busy is not the point, what matters is the priorities.
A few months ago, I finally completed my college and was filled with this deep sense of passion, purpose, vigour and all things hustle, to build an online business. I would start at 6 am in the morning because why not, and then I would work out and write down my to-do list and proceed to smash them all throughout the day. Three months down the line, I could see the work being done but there still was this looming feeling of not being enough, or not doing enough and I’d start hustling again. As the days unfolded, I started developing a migraine and a dad bod. I know it’s a thing these days, but honestly, I didn’t quite enjoy it.
The labels on the hustle, productivity or any kind of self-improvement have to be thoroughly read before swallowing. It isn’t such a good idea to hog down painkillers every time your back starts aching, there’s a better solution to that problem – fix your posture. If you have trouble sleeping, why not fix your schedule or stop lying down on the bed scrolling Instagram during non-sleeping hours, instead of taking those sleeping pills again. There’s nothing wrong with self-help but the way we use it in modern times has turned us into compulsive junkies. When we do not know what the problem we are trying to solve is, we take in all that we can find, to fill that void within us and to no avail.
All of us are different in some or the other way, I know this sounds cringy but it’s true. What works for Tim Ferriss and Gary Vee might not work for you, and they are also clueless as you are but they were able to find systems that better work for them. Instead of emulating their systems, we need to learn how they build what works for them and create systems that can work for us. Do you wake up at 11 am? Fine, work till late. The secret to winning is finding the game where the odds are in your favour. I think I heard that one in a James Clear book but it makes sense because you need to know how you can perform best.
- Myth: The path to success is working more
Reality: The path to success is knowing yourself
The void is the feeling we experience late at night, that something needs to be fixed or solved but even after several attempts, we can’t really put a finger on it and we end up pulling our smartphones closer. We rarely experience it when we’re caught up with some activity but we can sort of get a glimpse of it during brief moments of the day. Mystics, spiritual gurus, philosophers and the hippies have tried to address this feeling and it is partly the reason why we binge eat, light up a cigarette, read a ton of self-improvement books or scroll compulsively through our Instagram. It is that unconscious attempt to fill that void inside of us but simply indulging in these activities is not going to do it, rather it ends up making the hole bigger.
Here’s a small extract from a book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, which touches upon this feeling.
“A craving is just a specific manifestation of a deeper underlying motive. Your brain did not evolve with a desire to smoke cigarettes or to check Instagram or to play video games. At a deep level, you simply want to reduce uncertainty and relieve anxiety, to win social acceptance and approval, or to achieve status. Look at nearly any product that is habit-forming and you’ll see that it does not create a new motivation, but rather latches onto the underlying motives of human nature.
Find love and reproduce = using Tinder
Connect and bond with others = browsing Facebook
Win social acceptance and approval = posting on Instagram
Reduce uncertainty = searching on Google
Achieve status and prestige = playing video games
Your habits are modern-day solutions to ancient desires. New versions of old vices. The underlying motives behind human behaviour remain the same. The specific habits we perform differ based on the period of history.”
There are various ways to deal with these ancient underlying cravings, some would need a good mile of run and some might need a sniff of cocaine or some need a ton of self-improvement seminars. Now it’s clearly a matter of what we choose for ourselves during these moments and whatever we choose, grows into our identity and reflects through our work. The feeling never goes away to be honest, in fact, it is a part of what the American psychologist Abraham Maslow called “the self-actualization process” and it looks something like this.
4. Myth: You have to be a dick to get things done.
Reality: Accountability creates leaders.
We know exactly why our businesses, plans and ideas fall apart. It is because our team, our partner and our family does not understand our visions and our goals. They constantly interrupt us while we are working and they only care about themselves right? So we need to avoid these naysayers, stress inducers and people who do not take our visions seriously.
Complaining is self taught and it is a cry for help, that somebody else should take responsibility for how we are feeling. It is true that people only care about themselves as it is common knowledge that everybody’s favourite subject is themselves, including us. Therefore, what if we became a little more compassionate and stopped whatever we were doing and listened attentively to understand what they were going through.
If we really are busy and stressed out, it makes more sense to tell them we will get back at a specific time (and actually did that) than to be agitated about their behavior. Nobody stresses us out on purpose, we stress ourselves out. Their actions aren’t our responsibility, our actions are. If we really have to confront someone, I found the FBI technique by Simon Sinek quite useful.
Feeling: Say exactly how you feel. Be specific.
Behaviour: State the exact behaviour that caused you to feel a certain way.
Impact: Explain the impact of their actions
A team member didn’t complete their work in time? Well, we didn’t communicate well enough. Nobody comes to work at the right time? We are giving too much importance on culture instead of focusing on the work that matters. Somebody keeps bothering at work? We are at the wrong place to work. Rather than complaining, we should take accountability and then we should take action. The rest is for you to decide.
I guess this is all I have to say in this blog post but yes, one last point I had actually been pondering about for quite some time is the idea of “unintended success”, a positive result of an event or an action that was not intended or expected. Most of us plan and make a blueprint of a project and what not, but leave little room for these unintended successes. The achievement of the goal becomes so important to us that we forget the unintended achievements we have experienced while working towards that goal. Sometimes out plans work out, sometimes it does not and when it does not, look for the unintended successes it has brought along. Sometimes the clues to our success, happiness, and goals can be found in those unintended consequences.