Self Care January 14, 2020

I hate the "Unicorn Lecture"

David Hardenbrook @dhardenb

Does anybody else here routinely get the "Unicorn Lecture?"

When I try to explain what I'm doing with my side projects I always get the same pat on the head and then the lecture about the odds of being the next one-in-a-million unicorn application.

Part of the reason I was so excited to find Indie Hackers is because it was such a relief to find a community of folks that get that building a business like this doesn't have to follow the VC funded, one-in-a-million, go big or go home strategy.

It turns out I wasn't crazy. Or, if I am crazy, at least I'm not alone! ;-)

Like any other business, you can actually build an online business slowly over time with an eye on the long haul. And that is what I want to do. I'm working on a project that I think is great fun and has potential if I work at it. Slow and steady.

Maybe someday I can be the next Probably not, but it doesn't really matter because I don't need to be. I've read Zero to One, even liked it. And I think I get it too. But that is just never going to be me.

But what I can do, what we can all do, is slowly and steadily build value day in and day out. Over the long haul, the way that makes sense to us.

  1. 3

    Success is what you deem it to be. If that means trying to reach unicorn status or go steady and build over time both are right. Either way it's whatever matters to you the most. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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    For some, the aim of building the business is to create the next unicorn. They tend to weigh other projects and their own opportunities base on this objective. And that is OK. Getting their perspective is usefully sometimes. Others just want to build something fun and do not care too much about how big it can be. And that is OK also. And there is a wast continuum between the two that represents 99 % of businesses. All of them can be indie and participate here in the community. You will always get "unicorn lectures" that is just the nature of having exposed to the community. Just ignore it if it is not relevant to your journey.

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      Total agree. There is nothing wrong at all with any of the options. Maybe a better title for this would have been, "Glad to find out you don't HAVE to be a unicorn"

  3. 1

    Well said. I consider that as craftsmanship. It's when you like what you are doing, you grow your skills and enjoy the income generated.

    1. 1

      Craftsmanship... that is a really cool way of thinking of it! I like it!

  4. 1

    I have been following the same path. I have a wonderful service, and I use it, and my friends use it. It's a game system for RPG World Builders. It's a lot of fun. I've taken the same DYI approach with it. It's a very slow process, and the social media paradigm that once allowed for viral upsurges is behind us now that Google and FB have focused on "Boosting" and "Auction" models for their ad revenue business. My Organic Reach on FB for a typical post is 0 to 3 people. But Boosting is expensive. My first offer from FB was "Boost to 8 to 22 people for only $5". That is a business wrecking proposition for me as a lone startup without VC to burn, so I didn't bother with it. Yep... slow but steady is how I also want to do it. But no one said that would be easy. If you have ideas on how to get the word out, or just want to brainstorm on it, I'm up for that. Carry on, brother. We can do this. :)

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      Yes, I actually checked out your site the other day and it looks really cool. I played a lot of D&D when I was younger.

      I really have no idea how to generate traffic. I mean, I've read a lot about it but doing it is altogether different.

      Right now, my high water mark for visitors in one day is 12. Not sign ups. Visitors. So I've got a long way to go. :-)

      I will defiantly share anything I learn along the way though!

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        Cool. Thanks.

        One thought I have, kinda crazy, but I think there's potential in it somewhere ... is a kind of guerrilla marketing style ... where you do noticeably kooky/crazy/odd stuff to get attention and try to go viral that way. Of course there is a bit of risk that whatever you come up with might wind up being "offensive", or give you an "oddball" reputation. But in our situation, I'd say "oddball" reputation is better than no reputation at all.

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          I agree about the guerilla marketing. Not sure what weird thing could be done off the top of my head.

          Do you go to GenCon? Maybe you could do something that ties to that?

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            Gen Con is a huge deal. Before I tackle it I want to have enough time and resources to do it right. I don't see much point in doing something small there though. It's too big an expense in time and money to waste the opportunity. But yes, I do plan to do something with it at some point. Fo shizzle.

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              That makes sense. A booth or any kind of advertising there must go at a premium.

              Another hobby of mine is board gaming so I've been day dreaming about going to GenCon for years. The fact that is used to be here in Milwaukee before I got into board gaming kills me! :-0

  5. 1

    I feel you! I'm not striving for the glitzy, glamorous "startup" founder bro life where net worth and VC funding don't actually mean profits - and sometimes even impact. Personally, I have this weird fear of losing my independence, which means I'm always doing the most I can with the resources I have in the moment. I choose to do this, fully understanding that unicorn status will never happen as of now. But with, my e-comm endeavors, and my freelance marketing, I feel in control of my life, career, and finances, and I'm doing the most I can to make a difference on my own! They can keep their 100 hour work week grind and venture capital - I don't want it haha

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      Independence is very rewarding. Very therapeutic for me too because I work in IT so getting to do something exactly the way I want is a nice change of pace. :-)

  6. 1

    Good responses here.

    If any company was able to add value every day after day that is a huge feat in itself. Many companies that don't go huge but just end up being big enough for their employees and founders withdraw salaries with somewhat certainty are okay. Its a bad venture investment, but it does not really affect their returns at the end of the day.

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      Yep. It would be interesting to see some stats on wealth generated by small internet companies versus large internet companies. And then compare that ratio to other sectors.

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        I would have to do some research. But it would be very hard to know what measure.

        My guess is that large companies create more wealth outstanding margin, but the wealth smaller companies are much more tangible and understood.

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          Oh I'm sure.

          I'm pretty sure that in terms of raw employment way more people are employed by small businesses than large ones. Which always surprised me.

          I would love to know how internet business (small versus large) compare to traditional brick and mortar in terms of revenue.

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