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B2B startup advice sucks
How do you figure out what's real & isn't?
Hi all —
Every founder who’s gone from zero to product-market fit looks back at all the advice they got, all the books & blogs they read, and says, “Well shit, all of that was less than useless.”
I don’t know a serious founder who looks at the Lean Startup, the All-In Podcast, or Lenny’s Newsletter (just to take the most popular examples of “startup wisdom”), as anything but a joke.
Why is there so much bad advice out there? And how do you find good advice, and people who know what they’re talking about?
Why there’s so much bad B2B startup advice out there
My running list:
It is counterintuitive if you haven’t gone 0-1 before. And most people out there haven’t done it before. (Ahem, your VC.)
B2B software is the best business on earth. 90% margins + recurring revenue = the gold standard for business. Because of this, you can waste a lot of money & do a lot of stupid shit and still build a big business. (Which means - even people at successful companies often don’t know what they’re doing.)
Nobody really understands software. Seriously. Building software isn’t like building anything else, really. It’s not analogous to a factory or a simple system (which is the foundational model underlying all modern business knowledge). Software violent diseconomies of scale, and has infinite potential permutations - each with nonlinear returns to effort. It’s freakin’ weird.
It’s easier to “sound right” than to “be right.” Social media influencers tend to be those who optimize for “sounding right” and “making sense.” But logic is a 2-dimensional simplification of a 3-dimensional space — which is why your typical influencer winds up saying wet streets cause rain, then ultimately sells courses on how to be an influencer.
Many people who’ve done it before don’t understand it. The point of 0-1 is to get to 1-100, so once the typical founder survives through 0-1, they focus all their mental energy on scaling. They don’t have the time or interest to explore what caused them to get from 0-1.
People who’ve done it before & understand it, can’t articulate it. It’s hard to talk to people who haven’t gone through the Bowling Alley Moment. There’s simplicity on the other side of complexity… clarity on the other side of pain… but it’s taken me four years in startup hell, 8 full book rewrites (from scratch each time), and a year of continued iteration to build my framework for $0-$1M ARR and it STILL doesn’t land quite right. (And I don’t THINK I’m dumb, I just think this is a really hard thing to articulate.)
How to operate in a world full of BS
You need to build your own mental models. You need foundational frameworks for:
$0 - $1M ARR, in general
$1M+ ARR, in general
How your business works
Without these models in your head, you’ll hear a ton of advice and twist in the wind trying to follow it all. You’ll pivot endlessly and never be satisfied. You’ll make bad hires and waste time & money — at root, you’re gullible because you haven’t developed a foundational understanding of how real-world businesses come into existence & grow.
How do you develop these foundational frameworks? You can use what I’m building as starting points… but only as starting points. You have to do the work to make them intuitive in your own head. And then in your teams’ heads.
I am doing this now! As an example, I am trying to understand B2B marketing, and in order to do that, I’m creating slide decks to try to explain it to myself and you. (Here’s the link.) I share this with experts for their feedback, I test it in the wild, and I adjust my model based on what seems to actually work.
There are some people who can function without these mental models. That’s not me, and if you put up with my writing, that’s not you either. We are products of being good at school and work, and our brains are wired to need to understand things before doing them… and experience significant cognitive strain if we’re doing something and don’t understand why.
Take my models & build your own - and use them to go build awesome, efficient businesses that you & your customers love.
PS - Last call for B2B founders to join my inaugural - & free - “First 10 Customers Sprint.” (If it goes well I will do others & they probably won’t be free.)
Read more HERE - email me at email@example.com if you’re interested.