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What I Learned Starting Two Little Startups

For about three years I worked really hard on a startup called Sett. It's a blogging platform that did a lot of things very different, and, in fact, is still the blogging platform that my blog runs on because I'm totally unwilling to give up the features that I've gotten used to.

At the same time, it was a commercial failure, barely making more money than it cost to run the servers, and certainly not enough to compensate Todd and I for the work we put in.

I also run a site called CruiseSheet. It's not wildly profitable, but it does consistently turn a profit, and I even have an employee to do all the daily tasks. These two startups are very different, and I've learned a lot through doing them.

The first thing I learned is that traditional "startups" are overglorfied, at least from my perspective. They seem to have morphed to become quite formulaic, and VC money has essentially turned them into "create your own job" instead of "create your own business". Obviously this is speaking in broad strokes, but it's how the definition seems to have shifted in San Francisco.

My Goals for 2013

On No Status Quo

This month I started writing down my goals for the very first time. There have always been things I really want to do, but somehow I never bothered to write them down. At first I thought I was just being pragmatic. After all, I already know what my goals are. How is it going to help if I write them down?

But now I've realized that I was actually scared of the future. Writing down your goals forces you to look into your own future, and that can get scary. Not only do you have to know what you really want, but you also have to confront the idea that it's not going to happen unless you start working towards your goals.

I've always wanted to start my own business. Ever since I remember myself, I've been daydreaming about being a successful entrepreneur, being my own boss, and more recently, making a positive contribution to the world. But the ugly truth is that none of this is going to happen unless I start taking action right now. Writing down my goals forces me to confront the harsh reality and actually start working towards my future.

I know that things will get tough at some point. They always do. But persisting through hardship is what separates successful people from those who never manage to get anything done. I've learned this myself the hard way. But now that I write down my goals, I know exactly what I'm struggling for. And I won't stop until I get there.

I write down my yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. Most of my monthly goals are small steps towards my yearly goals, my weekly goals are small steps towards my monthly goals, and so on. If what I'm doing this month won't help me get where I want to be at the end of this year, should I really be doing it?

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