Take Ownership, Build Credibility First, Building in Public

Sunday Beam #


March 14, 2021

Good Sunday 🌞!

I changed my Twitter handle 🔥 I'm now @MeetKevon. Why? Story here.

Some of you have been asking me what I’m building now since you haven’t heard any big projects from me since the launch of the #BuildingInPublic guide.

Everyone is talking about building an audience, but most don't know that the behind-the-scenes driver is actually building meaningful relationships.

So I’m working on a email course to share that! It is a 7-day challenge to discover and show your identity, improve your online interactions with people, and make yourself relevant for a long time.

When you understand human, you can do all the right things.

If you want to level up your game, be the first one to join now for free 🤩!

Okay, this week let’s talk about:

💪 Take ownership

I’ve been waking up every day around 2-4am now (whenever Avery cries for me), and I’m slowly adjusting to this new schedule.

But you know, in a city like Hong Kong, we actually live a very, very blessed life. We have a culture of hiring a full-time helper (for some families, multiple 😦) who stays with us. The helper takes care of the house, does laundry, cleans, cooks, and even takes care of babies!

Now you might wonder - okay, then what are the parents doing? 😮

It is a competitive city, so a lot of parents both have full-time jobs. And they leave the baby duty to the helper and sometimes grandparents. The part that stunts me is - we’ve heard stories that even outside of work hours, some parents are not taking care of their baby. They’re letting their helper do all the duties, including the night feed & parenting (WHAT!).

To Lydia and me, that’s an act of irresponsibility. It is unfair to hire someone who works pretty much all day and also ask her to wake up middle of the night to cater to baby's needs. In a way, it is inhumane.

When we decide to have a child, we have to take ownerships. We can have helpers to help us with house work, but we're not outsourcing the core of raising a child - basic duties & parenting.

We know we’re very lucky to be able to get help from our helper, and let’s not take more things for granted. This is why my wife and I read stories everyday, we get up in the middle of the night, and we do most things ourselves, just like any other parents.

How does this relate to running a company?

Last week, I spoke to a founder of an early stage company. He reached out to me via my website (hey, I do reply! 😉) and we set up a quick call. He had a number of questions about running his company.

One question he had was about bringing in someone to lead Marketing. He would also be offering shares to her, so she'd become his new partner.

Bringing on a new partner is a good move if the two can complement each day. After running Toasty on my own, I’ve learned that having a partner is awesome! If it works out.

And this prompted me to think about when we bring in people, what is going on in our mind? How do we know when to hire and when not to hire?

In the past, when I was struggling, I was always tempted to hire someone so that I could outsource the duty to her, thinking she could “save us” from where we were. E.g. want more growth? Hire a Growth person. Want a better product? Hire a Product person.

Every single time, this person couldn’t save us.

What happened?

To me, there is a fine line. If you already have a plan in mind, and you’ve exhausted your current resources to get it executed, then it is a good time to hire. Like when new parents need that extra pair of hands at home. You want a helper who can help with laundry, cleaning, etc.

But, a lot of people (including myself), we panic hire when we have no idea what the plan is. We hope that this person can figure out the plan and also execute it. This is a panic hire. Like when new parents don't know how parenting works, so they hire a helper to take care of the baby 24/7 so they can be on their phones.

To be successful, we must own the most important parts: parenting & business strategy. Even if you need help, the most effective way is to learn just enough yourself to figure out the plan, then bring in someone to execute it.

As early-stage founders, we’re the most committed to the company we run. Be careful to think that someone can just come in and have the same level of passion to figure it out with you.

🎖 Build credibility first

Ever since I transited from a angel-backed founder to a creator, I’ve been careful where I spend my time. I want to make sure each project I work on contributes to my bigger goals.

People often ask me why my #BuildingInPublic guide is free. They even said they’d pay if I charge.

Great question. This is how I think about it.

New creators have the urge to jump into building paid products because making money is nice.

But that's not me.

As new creators, they could've made say $500 for the 1st product. Then they wondered how they could do better. On the other hand, I made $0 but I was clear on my goals: a ton of website traffic, Twitter followers, and subscribers that gave me the credibility to move forward.

I intentionally approached it this way because I used a credibility scale to understand how I can get closer to my bigger goals one step at a time.

👉👉👉 I wrote about this credibility scale

🛠 Break down Jeremy’s #BuildingInPublic tweet

Last week, Jeremy posted a new tweet about a mistake he made.

I want to dissect it so that you can pick up the learnings for your #BuildingInPublic journey.

Be vulnerable

“I want to share a mistake I made last month trying to grow @userp_io ‘s MRR above $110k.”

Jeremy straight up admitted he made a mistake. Nice and clear.

Some wonder if sharing failures would turn off their audience. No, people appreciate honesty. Also, we all love learning from someone else’s mistake (because it is not our own 😅). So this is an amazing opening line to hook people’s attention.

Tell a story

“I spoke to a new potential client who was price haggling.”

Every time you use first person narrative to write, you’re telling a “personal” story.

You get their attention. No one wants to read a business story or hear a lecture. Give them a movie.

Emphasize the takeaway

“So, what went wrong?”

“In other words, I shouldn’t have agreed to take on the project.”

Jeremy shared his self-reflection and learning from this one experience. The value of this tweet thread was super clear:

Client was price haggling → he compromised → didn’t work out well → never lower price again

FAQ: Does #BuildingInPublic = Share Everything 100%?

My answer is no. It is still in your control what you want to share and what not to share.

If a mistake makes you look bad, e.g. you lied, you don’t have to talk about it in public.

Think of yourself as a teacher. You share to teach. But if what you share hurts your image as a teacher, then don’t. Why would you hurt yourself?

💡 Inspirations

Build a business, not an audience

Since building an audience has become the hottest topic on the Internet, recently there are a lot of articles warning people to not solely focus on building an audience.

I agree that on top of building an audience, we should build a business! But, that doesn't mean building an audience is bad.

Be careful with titles like this that make people think its "either or". Most of the time, you need both.

Building an audience is a great start because it gives you a way to have direct relationships with a group of people. You can sell products, you can ask questions, you can help each other. When you have people around you, the sky is the limit.

But that’s just step one, an audience is a channel.

Ultimately, you want to provide value and make a positive impact to the world. This is where “business” comes in. To run a business, you must create value.

So I see building an audience as a starting point, then building a business comes after.

My personal roadmap is to build an audience → spot problems to solve → build products → create value → sustain a business → repeat.

Both are important.

Get attention without being salesy

Cold outreach

I received this message on Twitter the other day. Yes, people call me Kevin. 😂

I haven’t talked to him before and he asked if I could share my feedback on his new book cover design. This is a great example of using a soft touch to get eyeballs to his work.

  1. Asking feedback is always a great conversation starter. He can hardly piss off people by asking for feedback.
  2. There are more nice people out there than you expected. When I saw this message, I jumped in to help.
  3. For someone (like me here) to give feedback, I must go check out what his new book is about. This means he didn’t even have to “sell” me the book and he got me to check it out.
  4. This is also considered #BuildingInPublic because he was getting insights from his audience instead of making all the decisions inside his head.

Can you see the benefits of #BuildingInPublic here? 😉

If you enjoy reading this newsletter, subscribe to get it directly.