Let's give better advice to founders


I'm here to tell you that being a founder is hard. And it always will be hard no matter what. Doing something alone and for the first time hell even the 5th time is full of uncertainty.

But today I want to talk about specifically a few things - advices we give to founders and how useless most of them are.

Let's revisit the most overused ones and I'll try to state my case.

  1. Be consistent

Great advice nothing problematic here for now...

But what does it mean to be consistent? Is it spending 10 hours a week? Or is it hustling 90hours straight? Each industry, submarket, category has it's own "rules of consistency".

When you say "be consistent" what does it mean? On it's own nothing. Here's what I suggest to do instead of asking founders to be consistent, tell them the numbers of your industry. Plain and simple.

  • Producing a podcast takes usually 6 hours per episode
  • Curating newsletter usually takes 4 hours per issue
  • Researching for an industry report takes at least 1 week
  • Building an API usually takes unlimited amount of time depending on the functionality.
  1. Show up every week and they will come

First of all yes there's a difference between this point and the second one.

Unfortunately there's a factor that not everyone is taking into account when they start indie hacking or bootstrapping. The "virality" or in other words plain luck being in the right place and in the right time.

Some people may experience it, some people don't. Not everyone is starting at the same ground terms.

The person who has worked as an "operations manager" in FAANG company and now started a startup and the person who logged into Indiehackers for the first time will have totally different "virality" paths.

  1. Fake it till you make it

While I can say that following other people and copying some of their hacks is can be helpful, it's not always true for everyone.

Fake it till you make it doesn't take into account the differences you have as founders. What tools you have access to, who can support you, who can cross-promote you, etc.

Copying of some traits can help, but don't expect to get a lot of traction out of it. Instead of suggesting to the founders to copy other people, show them examples.

  • X did this, but they had Y and Z as prerequisite.
  • Y did this, and they are just starting out so this may help.
  1. Share things for free at the beginning and then add a price

I can answer to this one by an advice my husband gave me when I started freelancing: "Free customer brings in free customer".

When you're sharing things for free for long enough time the audience looses the motivation to be on board when you go paid.

Founders should do things that don't scale but at the same time being free of charge for a long enough time is business killer.

Let's be more contextual with founders and upfront. The journey is not an easy one and giving in more fluff is not helping.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk :D

  1. 4

    Each line is thoughtful and has lot of depth. Great advice on how to give advice.

    And yes this is harsh reality for anyone just starting. There must be hundred reasons for something to work for someone at sometime . Carefully evaluate the reasons before you pick the advice. See more on "survivorship bias"

    1. 3

      a lot of people also try to give a general advice which can be helpful for majority, but I think it's useless. If you can't give context, then it's not the place to give advice or mentor someone.

      1. 3

        This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

  2. 2

    Good advice.
    All this has risk and nothing is "easy". If it were easy...everyone would be doing it. That is why I think enjoying the process can be very beneficial for endeavors with low success rates (start ups, small biz...marriages?). ha

  3. 2

    Really helpful, thanks for that quick TED talk :D

  4. 1

    This is some great stuff here. We need critiques like this.

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