Discover more from founder therapy
Don't do things that scale
Do things that work, today
Hi all —
I had a really interesting conversation with a founder this week.
I don’t know exact numbers, but her company has gone from zero to probably $500k ARR since their launch ~12 months ago. They are a super lean team (maybe 3 or 4 people) & are first-time founders.
We were talking about that guy you see everywhere, now - the CEO of Retention.com
He reminds me a lot of Alex Hormozi — neither seem to be wildly intelligent by any objective metric, and they probably couldn’t sit still in a HBS classroom, but… they have actually scaled businesses.
Lesson 1: These people aren’t like you (and that’s ok)
I’ve identified two types of founders:
Framework founders - if you read this newsletter, this is you. You need to understand something before doing it. This is me too, and why I’m down this years-long rabbithole exploring “how do you build something new & different?”
Hustle founders - this is Alex Hormozi, the Retention.com guy, etc. They just do stuff and figure it out without thinking about it.
Hustle founders probably didn’t do well in school, probably got fired a few times, and are tough to work with. Framework founders did great in school & work, and are nice + thoughtful people.
Unfortunately - Hustle founders are way more likely to succeed in 0-1, because they *just go out and do shit*
Worse - Framework founders can’t just operate like Hustle founders. It’s not how you’re wired. You NEED a way to think about things, you need a set of mental models that enable you to execute quickly.
Worse x 2 - Everything out there for early-stage startups isn’t designed for you:
This is ok - you can still succeed - you just need a set of frameworks that aren’t counterproductive.
Lesson 2: Don’t do things that scale
Here’s the most important thing I’ve observed watching “hustle” founders:
They don’t think about what scales. At least, not at first.
You do - and this is kneecapping you.
Which brings me back to my conversation with this amazing founder (yes, she’s a “frameworks founder”).
When we looked at what Retention.com had figured out to get to $10M ARR… it’s quite simple:
No CRM - everything tracked in a spreadsheet
Just outbound email - all done manually by virtual assistants in the Philippines
My read: They simply figured out “what works”, and said, “let’s systematize this & scale it as much as we possibly can.”
This founder has realized something similar: What works for her company is referrals and long, personalized emails.
For a long time, she’s had in the back of her mind: “We need to find something different that’s scalable.”
Now, she realizes: “Wait a second, let’s just get an army of interns & virtual assistants and systematize what’s working, then scale that.”
In short: Don’t think about scale. Figure out what works. Then systematize it. Then scale it. Anything else will break you.
PS - about to self-implode this next week running v1 of “First 10-20 Customer Sprint.” Content is here. Pray for me. (Reach out if you want to be on the waitlist for the next one, if I survive.)