The 3 Step Framework for Starting Anything From Scratch

I get asked questions every day about starting, finishing, and shipping things.

Let’s be honest: I bring this on myself.

Not only do I write about these topics, but I ask everyone I meet or who joins The Resistance to tell me what they’re struggling with (and how I can help).

The nature of this is that some questions come up again and again.

I find they fit a certain trend.

So today, I want to talk about  the second most common question I get asked (right behind “why are you so handsome?” – a question that has no human answer):

First, the question:

Tom, I want to [place description of doing something here, like: write book, sell more kitten mittens, etc.], but I don’t have [place description of excuse here, like: an audience, money, connections, platform, etc.]. What do I do?

Now, the solution is actually pretty obvious: go build or create the thing you’re lacking (audience, money, whatever), then do the thing you want.

Thing is, though, this advice is about as useful as telling a diabetic to stop consuming so much sugar.

Great thought, but the obvious isn’t what we need. If that were the case, the problem would be solved already.

Case closed. We won. Let’s go home.

No, most humans are great at recognizing what needs changing (whether in diet, business, relationships, or life). What we’re not so great at is implementing the changes necessary to succeed.

So what we DON’T need is someone reiterating the problem and telling us a solution.

What we DO need is a framework to facilitate success: a process to help us make change; a template to help us ship our project (or lower our cholesterol).

So if you’re stuck, confused, depressed, exhausted, or ready to throw in the towel (or already have), here’s what you need to do.

3 Steps for Starting Anything from Scratch (even if you don’t have money, connections or an audience)

#1. Take The Lead

Nobody is going to create your vision for you.

Nobody is going to write your book, or call the wholesaler to coordinate the import, or build your website (the way it needs to be built).

Nor is anyone going to tell you how each chapter ought to be written, how to structure your import / export business, or how your website should look.

That’s on you to do the hard creative work.

“Taking the Lead” means:

  1. actually executing your idea at the lowest level possible, and
  2. building a business model with concrete action steps, deadlines, and ship dates

Because I personally find examples helpful for learning, here you go:

How to Execute an Idea at the Lowest Level Possible

For the past week I’ve been in Traverse City, MI, so I’ve been drinking a bit more delicious micro-brew than usual, so I figured we could use a brewery example.

Now let’s say you have an idea for a brewery…

The answer isn’t to imagine cool flavors you’d brew or great names you’d give them. Sure, this part is fun, but fun doesn’t create anything.

Your job is to brew (or source the brewer), connect with people who love artisan beer, and sell your beer to them.

When enough people are buying, it’s time to scale.

In other words, your job is NOT to:

  • dream up the coolest brewery name
  • talk about how awesome your brewery could be in location X
  • think about how much fun it would be to own a brewery
  • tell your friends about your brewery over beers at another brewery
  • create a logo
  • complain about not having an audience
  • work as a bartender to get experience
  • build a website
  • hire a VA
  • wish you had money
  • ask people for money
  • take out a loan

Your job IS:

  • to sell your own beer

(or, if you don’t care about the creation aspect of it: sell someone elses artisan beer)

That’s what a brewery is.

Everything else is a distraction until money exchanges hands (for delicious micro-brew).

How to Build an Actionable Business Model

Now, once you understand you need to execute your idea at the lowest level possible, you ought to build out a lean canvas.

Yes, it’s possible to try executing your idea at the lowest possible level with no plan, but let’s be real: you’re shooting in the dark.

So an actionable business model is essential.

1. Build Out a Lean Canvas

I’ve written about the lean canvas before, so I’ll simply share the results of my hypothetical brewery lean canvas here.

This took me 10 minutes to create:

lean canvas brew

As you can see, stuff is pretty basic right now.

We have a solid idea, though, of:

  1. What we’re creating (Solution / UVP / unfair advantage)
  2. Who we’re creating it for (customer segment, early adopters)
  3. How we plan to reach them (channels)
  4. How that might look financially (cost structure + revenue streams).

The lean canvas is a living document and something you should continue to develop and refine as you execute, but even this basic structure is enough to get started.

Once you have your lean canvas created (again, this should take about 15 minutes), then it’s time to break it down into a series of systems, processes, and checklists (so you can move from point A, the idea, to point B – your minimal viable product)

2. Develop Your Project Management Board

Next, turn your lean canvas into a project management board.

I prefer Trello to just about everything out there (it’s free and awesome):

trello brew

As you can see, I’ve started to flesh out precisely what needs to be done to bring this thing into reality.

The key with a good project management board: there is a system for turning ideas into reality (and a way to track it).

I generally like to assemble my boards using the: “To Do” “In Progress” “Done” framework.

Couple notes:

  • No more than 1 item per person in the “In Progress” section of the board (so if you’re a team of one, that means only one “card” can be in that “list”).
  • Always keep a “Done” tab so you can (1) track progress and (2) celebrate progress.
  • Always celebrate.

3. Develop a Checklist System

I know – people hate checklists.

But here’s the deal: without them, nothing gets done.

And on the opposite side of the spectrum, with detailed, clear checklists, ANYONE can execute on your vision – important if you ever want to build and lead a team (next section) or eventually scale the operations of your business.

For this task, I like to create a Todoist project:

todoist brew

Todoist is a simple checklist program. Like Trello, the basic software is free and incredibly valuable.

Keys to a good checklist:

  1. Always set a ship date!
  2. Assign ONE person to be in charge of one task (even if there are multiple levels)
  3. Itemize by priority
  4. Chunk (break the tasks into subtasks – Todoist lets you do this very easily and in a simple to execute framework)

Once you have your lean canvas, project management board, and checklists setup, it’s time to multiply your results the SMART way.

#2 Assemble a Team

“But Tom, I don’t know how to brew, or I don’t know how to get my beer in local taprooms, or I don’t know how to blah blah blah.”

First: yes, you do.

Or at least: you could

You could learn to brew, or figure out how to get your beer in local taprooms, or connect with investors, or figure out the proper licenses you need to whatever.

It takes creative hustle, sure, but it’s possible.

But let’s say you really do come up against something that seems insurmountable:

Like you want to start a brewery but don’t know how to brew, nor have the passion to master it.

What do you do?

Simple: you find the right person (or people) to team up with to bring your vision to live.

This is what it means to “assemble a team.”

No one has every skill they need to build something from scratch.

For the new book I’m writing, I interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs who have built and led teams.

Recently, I sat down with Chris Guillebeau, bestselling author of The $100 Startup and creator of one of the biggest conferences in the world (at least it seems like it it) The World Domination Summit (WDS for short).

I asked Chris how he did it – how could he possible launch WDS when he had:

  1. no prior event coordination experience
  2. no sponsorships to pay for the event
  3. a dozen other projects going on (like traveling around the world and touring the States for his book launches, among other things)

Here’s what Chris did:

  • he assembled a team to do all the things he didn’t know how to do
  • he leaned into this team and trusted them to deliver
  • he kept the whole project moving forward and made sure it shipped on time

Key take-aways:

  1. Chris had the vision, developed the tentative idea, then brought people on board who could compliment his skillsets and assets (in other words: he didn’t really need someone with a massive audience to help him out, but he did need an event coordinator!).
  2. Chris believed in his team and leaned into them to deliver. At first, this was difficult for him, but he managed to step back and recognize nothing would happen if he didn’t release control to others. This was difficult for a self-proclaimed perfectionist.
  3. Chris was still in the lead and made sure the conference shipped on time. That meant, while many of the decisions were democratic or in the hands of other people (whom he trusted), he still had to make sure everyone was communicating and that nothing was missing as they got closer to the launch of the conference.

If you’d like to hear the full interview between Chris and I, sign up for early notification of the launch of my new book: COMMAND. Sign up here.

His interview and many others are exclusive bonuses, several of which I will share with early notification list subscribers.


If I were doing the same thing with a brewery, I would figure out what skills and assets I brought to the table, and source the rest.

For example, I’m good at:

  • getting people to drink beer
  • inspiring word of mouth sales
  • project management and leadership of a project (mandatory if you’re the leader of a collaborative project)
  • coming up with the best beer names in the world

I’m not good at:

  • brewing
  • legal stuff
  • not drinking too much

It would behoove me then to team up with a brewer who was committed to the project. And as far as the legal stuff goes, I’d either suck it up and read some laws (and ask other brewers how they did it), or potentially find a lawyer who loves beer to team up with.

That would be the basic formation of the team (sales + product creation), and all you need to get started.

#2 Ship Your Product to Market

Once you’re underway with your collaborative project, it’s time to ship the thing to market.

What does “ship to market” mean?

It means ACTUALLY launching your product so that people exchange dollars for your idea (for your delicious micro-brew, in this case).

I’ve written about lean launching projects from scratch before, so I won’t go into detail here.

What’s most important about shipping your product to market:

  1. You set a ship date
  2. You stick to the ship date

This doesn’t mean rush and pump out garbage. The world is noisy and full of half-assed stuff (books, blogs, businesses – you name it), it doesn’t need more.

But by setting a ship date and definitively committing to it, you break through the enemys roadblocks, propaganda, and obstacles, and increase your chances of success dramatically.

An important reminder when it comes to launching something:

The real winners aren’t the people who ship perfectly.

The real winners are the people who ship.

Next StepsCOMMAND - 2a

If you’re working on a project, I hope this gives you a helpful framework to follow to turn your idea into reality.

If you enjoyed this post, then you may want to check out my new book:

COMMAND: Take the Lead, Assemble a Team, and Ship Your Product to Market.

I briefly covered the main topics of the book, but in the book itself, I’ll be deep-diving into the details (and corresponding bonus interviews, ecourse, and live events).

In COMMAND, you’ll learn:

  1. How to thrash and chunk your idea so you have a clearly defined plan of action for whatever you want to create (business or otherwise)
  2. How to build out a lean business model and how to turn this model into an actionable project management framework
  3. How to find and connect with people who will make your ideas way more successsful
  4. What resources and tools to use, how to use them, and how to build systems and processes around them (something nobody else is teaching right now)
  5. How to assemble and lead a team (from creating the contract, to managing a team and multiple projects, to best practices for communication)
  6. How to ship a project to market (including how to lean launch a project, how to leverage a co-launch, and how to fund your project so you never need to seek outside financing if you don’t want)

And much more.

Get Early Access to my new book command

If you sign up, you’ll get a behind the scenes look at the making of the book, early access to some of the material, and first access to the book when it launches (1 November).

Thanks, and I hope you enjoyed todays blog post.

Leave a comment below and let me know what project YOU’RE working on and where you’re stuck.

I promise to answer every single question.

Until next time, stay frosty.

Started, finished, and shipped in Traverse City, Michigan.

Total writing time: 3:45 hrs

Soundtrack: Kishi Bashi

What Makes You The Expert?

Me jumping off a bridge in Ecuador. It has nothing to do with this blog post but it still rocks.

This past June, my wife and I spent 15 days exploring Ecuador.

Unlike the other countries we visited this past year, our Ecuador adventure involved a lot of bus travel.

On the plus side, Ecuadorian bus travel is cheap.

We traveled by bus from the Pacific Ocean to the Amazon jungle, with a couple stops in between for good measure, all for less than $100 USD.

On the not-quite-plus-side, the bus system is entirely unpredictable and you never know how many buses you’ll need to change to get to a particular destination.

On one such night, after about 6 hours of travel (with a few more hours to go), we found ourselves stopped at a standard Ecuadorian bus stop:

  • Old ladies working in kiosks selling laffy-taffy
  • Bathrooms you have to pay to enter
  • And a bus terminal “exit” tax they levy against you when you leave (which I guess means if you don’t pay, you can’t leave the bus station…)

As we waited for our next bus, we came in contact with two other gringos; a couple taking a 2 week vacation in Ecuador. They had spent the past few days in the Galapagos and were now headed to the Amazon jungle.

“Perfect,” I thought, as we were also on our way to the Amazon (and if there’s one thing my Human Geography studies have taught, it’s that foreign travel is safer in packs).

So we got to talking the usual traveler’s talk:

  1. Where have you been?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. What place have you liked the best?
  4. What’s after this town / country / continent?

And of course, once these questions come to an end:

  • What do you do?

Our new acquaintances were grade school teachers. They spent the past year saving up for this trip and in about a week they were headed back to the States to teach and start saving again for another trip.

When it was my turn to answer, I told them I do a little teaching myself – on topics like pricing, lean startup, and business growth hacking – and that I basically collaborate on various projects and publish books for a living (my own and others).

“What school do you teach at?” she asked.

I don’t – I teach from a platform I created. It’s entirely online.

“So who do you work for?”

No one. I created the platform myself. I’m my own boss.

“Well, what books have you written?”

I mentioned one of my books, The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing, and told her it’s all about an unconventional pricing technique that helps people increase their reach, impact, and sales.

“What makes you the expert?”

* * *

It’s been months since this interaction, but the question still comes back to me from time to time:

What makes you the expert?

There are dozens of socially acceptable answers to this:

  • I have multiple degrees in the subject matter…
  • I have over 30 years work experience in the field…
  • I won an award from a foreign or east coast institution for my work in this area…

But here’s the thing:

It doesn’t matter.

And I’m not just saying that because I have none of the above…

I’m saying it because it really doesn’t matter – not to you. Not to your work. Not to your life.

“What makes him or her the expert?”

This question is irrelevant.

But there is a question that does matter. It’s the same question I asked our Ecuadorian acquaintance after she asked me what made me an expert:

“Why aren’t you?”

As in:

  • Why aren’t you the expert?
  • What’s stopping you from being considered the go-to, subject matter expert in your field?
  • Why haven’t you shipped anything (book, blog, business, whatever)?

Because I promise you this: it has nothing to do with degrees, or awards, or “dues paid”….

But it does have to do with your actions…

Today, tomorrow, and every day for the rest of your life.

And while you don’t have to justify or validate your actions (you shouldn’t), you do have to start.

So maybe the better question is:


I hope the answer is today.

Started, finished, and shipped in Denver, Colorado.

Total writing time: 3:41 hours

11 steps to building a heart-centered business from scratch

Last week, we wrapped up the The Flight Formula LIVE – an intensive, in-person, heart-centered business incubator program.

For 7 days, a small group of motivated entrepreneurs met in the mountains of Asheville to discover their gifts, activate their purpose, and build heart-centered businesses from scratch.

Jason and Asher led the way (with me providing a virtual support role from Peru) providing a truly transformative experience for all attendees.

It’s only been a few days, but the reviews are starting to roll in…

“I spent $380,000+ over 5 years and got 10% of what I needed to build a heart-centered business. I attended The Flight Formula LIVE and got the other 90%.”

– Samuel Nazar Walsh, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

“Words fail – one of the most truly transformative, powerful and meaningful events I’ve ever been a part of….”

– Bruce Brodeen, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

“There are so many people who I think would benefit from this work…I am totally inspired and grateful for the experience. All my clients and colleagues want to know about it and I tell them it totally exceeded all my expectations – WOW!”

– Ciel Walko, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

“Wow. Just… blown away by the content of this retreat… and by the compassion-filled spirits that are joining me for the experience.”

– Lehua Kauhane, The Flight Formula LIVE 2014 TRIBE #3

These are just a few of many reviews and testimonials that are coming in.

Truly humbling to say the least.

What’s The Flight Formula Secret Sauce?!

Good question.

In a nutshell, we focus on:

Inside to out; Gift to service.

Not many business incubator programs work this way….actually, none do (that I know of).

All other business incubator programs start with an unmet need in the market.

This is great.

It helps focus our solutions on a real problem (not something we created in our own heads that doesn’t really exist).

But it also misses a fundamental piece of the pie…

Your gift.

What you can give and how you can serve best.

That’s what’s different about The Flight Formula:

We start with the person, his or her gift, and design and implement a way for that gift to serve others in the marketplace.

And today, I want to share with you the 11 step formula we built for The Flight Formula to create transformational change in our students and help them launch heart-centered businesses.

My hope is that these 11 steps will help you create the same transformation in your own life and business.

*note: if you like this post, shoot me a tweet and let me know [click to tweet me!!]

Let’s get to it:

Step 1: Discover Your Gift, Purpose, and Story

There’s no such thing as a heart-centered business if the founder doesn’t understand his or her gift, purpose, and story.

Every heart-centered business starts with a powerful purpose explained through an equally powerful story. And the founders of heart-centered businesses are people who lean into their gifts.

The discovery of your gift, purpose, and story is something that takes quite a bit of time if you’re doing it on your own.

But if you create a safe container or safe space – a tight-knit group of people with shared core values, in an equally safe environment free of criticism – you can multiply and magnify your results in a fraction of the time.

We built this safe space into The Flight Formula as a core, foundational component of our program.

You can develop the same “safe space” into your group, organization, or program. All it takes is a cooperative group to sit down and set expectations from day one and hold everyone accountable to the same standards (no criticism, no judgement; just pure focus on gift, purpose, and story).

Step 2: Break Through Limiting Beliefs

Like clockwork, once someone has discovered his or her unique gift, purpose, and story, a set of mental roadblocks emerge from who-knows-where.

  • This isn’t going to work
  • I’m not smart enough
  • I’ve never done anything like this before
  • I’m too young
  • I’m too old
  • I’m too inexperienced
  • What will Henry VonHater think?
  • What gives me the right?…

And so on.

These limiting beliefs are deep-rooted and generally only expose themselves when under attack (I’ve written about this a few times before).

This is the enemy, of course, and while we rationally understand why the enemy is wrong…the excuses can seem so real.

Like discovering your gifts, purpose, and story, breaking through limiting beliefs is hard to do by yourself.

It’s much more effective when you have unconditional support from a tight-knit group who share the same values (and are at a similar stage). Coaches and mentors at this stage are invaluable and can speed up the process dramatically.

Step 3: Identify Who Are You Serving

Once you’ve overcome the mental hurdles of why you can’t succeed (be honest, we all experience this), it’s time to focus on who you’ll serve.

The people you decide to serve are your target market or target audience.

I personally prefer the term “who am I serving” versus target market or target audience simply because it is much more tangible and visceral for me to think of the people and individuals I can directly serve…it’s just much more human for me than target market or target audience.

That said: different strokes for different folks, so think of it whichever way you prefer.

Regardless, the people you serve or your target market are the people that need your gift and who, if presented and approached the right way, will happily pay you for it.

Step 4: Define the Transformation You’re Creating

Step 4 is all about clarifying your offer to the people you’re serving.

This is the part people mess up on…a lot.

Just because you have a gift for playing Halo or drinking craft beer or playing dodgeball (guilty on all accounts) doesn’t mean that it’s something that can serve others…

Whatever your gift, you need to set it in the context of a need that must be met.

In other words: what is the transformation your gift is making in another person’s life?

This transformation must be specific, applicable, believable, and something the person wants and would pay money for.

How do we frame the transformation?

It’s all about outcomes.

Here’s a quote from James Gibson of The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception that helped me better understand the transformation process (and how to frame it):

“What we perceive when we look at objects are their affordances, not their qualities. We can discriminate the dimensions of difference if required to do so in an experiment, but what the object affords us is what we normally pay attention to.”

We don’t look at grass and think about color, saturation, length, whatever.

We think: that’s a nice spot to lay (because it looks soft), or: that’s a nice spot to grow something (because it looks fertile)…

Affordances NOT qualities…

Or to translate:

OUTCOMES (benefits) not features…

Step 5: Create Your Mini-Transformation Product or Service

At this point, you’ve got to bring your gifts in alignment with those you’re serving. The fastest, most effective way is to start with a mini-transformation.

What is a mini-transformation?

It’s a simple solution to a problem that positively changes the person you’re serving (your target audience).

The point of a mini-transformation isn’t to be groundbreaking, but to build trust with the people you intend to serve.

After all, who do we follow / believe in / want to be like?

Those people who demonstrate they are capable of doing (or being) what we want to do (or be).

Can you fix just one small problem your target audience has? Of course you can.

(and if the answer is: I’m not sure what problems they have, engage with them: they’ll be happy to tell you)

This step is all about connecting your gift, the most beautiful part of YOU, to the offer and how you can best serve others.

Simple – not easy.

Step 6: Listen and Engage

What do the people you intend to serve want?

What are they willing to pay for?

It’s not good enough to say “I have this problem, so I’m going to build a solution for it.”

I interviewed Andrew Warner of Mixergy for the next issue of Bootstrapped (the magazine formerly known as The Creative Entrepreneur) coming out this July, and one of the most powerful things he said was to NOT try to solve our own problems. Andrew has interviewed over 1,000 entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and business owners from across the world. He’s had access to some of the sharpest minds in the world.

So when he gives business advice, it’s best to listen up.

Don’t try to solve your own problem. Get to know the audience you want to serve, find out THEIR problems, and find out what solutions they would pay for. This is called product/market fit.

Identifying product/market fit isn’t rocket science, but it can be uncomfortable.

*note: if you’re an entrepreneur / artist / writer (or aspiring to be any of those): get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Step 7: Design the Flagship Product

At this point, you do not want to build anything. You simply want to wireframe a solution to a particular problem that your target audience said they would pay for.

In order to build out the wireframe (and, for the record, that is the ONLY thing you’re building at this stage – just a rough draft / outline / wireframe), we need to take the feedback from our target audience and mold it into the product or service they said they would pay for.

Wireframing your flagship product is not done in isolation.

You must continue to go back to the people you’ve initiated contact with (the people in your target audience who you listened to and engaged with in step 6) to develop the idea into something worthwhile.

Remember: Creation does not exist in a vacuum.

Use your potential and future customers for help in building what will be a solution to their problems (I promise they will help).

Step 8: Pre-sell to Early Adopters

Once you’ve gone through a few iterations with your target audience to develop the product or service wireframe, it’s time to sell.

If you’ve been communicating with the people you intend to serve throughout this entire process, getting presales will be easier than you think.


Because you’ve built trust with them and you’re providing a solution to a problem they said they would pay you for.

Simple, right??

These are the people that will buy your product or service on proof of concept alone (in other words: they are your early adopters).

*p.s. you have to actually sell your product or service at this stage – that means real money in your pocket (doesn’t matter what your mom thinks of your product at this stage unless she’s putting money down for the first version)

Step 9: Learn. Improve. Evolve.

This is an ongoing process and if you want to build a business that sticks around, you must continually learn, improve, and evolve.

Remember what I said about antifragile businesses – business success isn’t about the best products or the greatest profit. Success in business = survival.

By continuing to grow from the feedback you receive from your target audience, by continuing to build better versions of what they ask for, and by being able to pivot or change direction if necessary, you increase your chances of survival (and this is all that counts).

Step 10: Launch v1.0 of Your Flagship Product

By now, you’ve connected with and built trust with your target audience, you’ve built out a wireframe that your audience is willing to pay you for, and you’ve taken additional feedback to develop and improve the initial concept.

Now it’s time to launch.

Launching isn’t the simplest process – there are quite a number of variables to launch a product the right way, especially if you use an upside-down sales funnel like we did with The Flight Formula.

That said, by the time you get to this point, if you’ve done everything else right, you’ll be able to leverage your early adopters (the ones that bought on proof of concept, remember?) to be your most effective promoters and marketers of your product.

While not recommended, if this small group is all you can leverage to expand distribution of your product or service, it will suffice for now.

*note: I’m writing a book on how to validate a business idea, assemble a team, and ship a collaborative project to market (complete with how to nail a big launch for your product or service).

Get Early Access to My New Book: COMMAND

Step 11 (and beyond): Progressively Validate, Build and Ship New Solutions

For The Flight Formula, we started with a very expensive, premium product.

While Pay What You Want, the nature of the program being at a particular place and time meant it was inaccessible to some people.

Once we successfully launched the in-person incubator, the next step was to build out another solution that was accessible to a wider audience.

A lot of businesses start with a small sale and upsell from there (like a $39 eBook to a $399 course to a $2000 whatever).

We decided to go the opposite way, starting at the top and working our way down. This gave us more working capital and validated that what we were creating was a true need in the market.

At this point, we’re developing an online incubator program which we’re getting ready to launch in a couple days (a couple spots are available but we close up shop Monday night – if you’re interested, go here).

In the future, we can continue to build out even simpler and less expensive options for those interested in the same transformation but with limited time or funds (for example: a DIY course with all the core elements, but completely self-guided and self-paced).

The key here is to continue to find and fill unserved needs in the marketplace. You can do this by looking at income level (less expensive or more expensive products or services will attract different audiences), time (people with more or less time on their hands want different solutions), or any other number of variables.

Next Steps

So that’s The Flight Formula in summary form.

Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into anything that creates real transformation (like people, mentorship, one-on-one time, space, access to the tools, strategies, techniques of the best in the industry, etc.), but I hope this gives  you a new way to approach building a business.

You don’t have to do things the conventional way:

  • You can start from the inside and work your way out.
  • You can sell your idea before you build it
  • And you can create something that impacts people deeply, personally, and for life

But it all starts with you:

Will you take the plunge to build a heart-centered business?

Started, Finished and Shipped in Huaraz, Peru

Writing time: 6:34 hours

Just Beyond that Beach (the creator’s dilemma)

 Myrmidons! My brothers of the sword! I would rather fight beside you than any army of thousands! Let no man forget how menacing we are, we are lions! Do you know what’s waiting beyond that beach? Immortality! Take it! It’s yours! [Troy]

Creators have a dilemma.

We want the freedom to create whatever, whenever we want…

But the market will only compensate us for what IT wants.

This leaves your average creator (whether entrepreneur, writer, artist, etc.) in a particularly uncomfortable position, with only two real options.

Option 1: Create what you want, ignore the market…

Many creators do just that.  They build for themselves and completely ignore the rest of the world.

There’s only one problem with this: it rarely pays off.

Yes, there are outliers.  But that’s exactly the point: they’re outliers.

If the market doesn’t like what you create, you bear the burden.

‘Do what you love’ sounds fun and sexy, until you realize you’ve been living on your mom’s couch for 3 years.

Option 2: Create for the market, ignore what you want…

Many other creators (probably the vast majority) choose this route.

They ignore their curiosities, inspirations, and passions, and build widgets instead.

There’s only one problem with this: it comes at a cost.

How long can we supply the demand for something we don’t care about?  How long can we commit to creating something personally valueless?  How long until the money’s not worth being a robot in the robot factory?

A False Dichotomy

Of course, this is a false dichotomy.

It doesn’t take a human geographer to realize there are other options besides ‘starving artist’ and ‘miserable cog’ when it comes to the life we choose for ourselves.

Just look at how many starving cogs and miserable artists there are in the world…

I kid (sort of…).

So why do we do it?


We create this dichotomy, first and foremost, because it’s easier to process the world this way.  The brain can only process so many things at one time, so simplifying things makes the brain happy (we avoid sensory overload).

Second – and much more insidiously – we create this dichotomy to create an out

The Enemy wants to keep us stagnate.  An ‘either / or’ dichotomy with seemingly brutal consequences is the perfect weapon to make this happen.

If the world is a zero sum game, if it’s either win or lose, if it’s either me or him…well, better reason to just stay put, keep our heads down, and blend into the rest of the tribe

Now that we have a good, rational reason to sit still, we are off the hook for not taking action.  We have our out.

The Real Creator’s Dilemma

But of course this out isn’t really an out.

It’s submitting for comfort and safety (or so we think…).

The real dilemma isn’t: do I do what I love, or do I do what makes me money?

This dichotomy doesn’t exist – it never did.

The real dilemma is: do we acquiesce to a life and lifestyle undesired because it’s comfortable and safe?


Or do we take the uncomfortable, uncertain, and difficult path…the one we know won’t be easy, clear, or guranteed…the one fraught with hardship, setbacks and failure…

Because we know it will be worth it?

Take it. It’s yours.

You can do important work and make money from it.

It’s possible, I promise you this.

I meet new people doing it every day.

More importantly, they’re doing it their way:  they’re picking the route, choosing their packing list, and drawing the map as they go along.  No, it’s not easy – but it was never supposed to be.

The same reality can be yours.

It’s waiting for you, just beyond that beach…

The question is: will you take it?

p.s. interested in taking the beach, but rather do it with an army?  I’m writing a new book that will teach you how to assemble and lead a team to take the beach (and own your market). Sign up here.


Start, finished, and shipped in Cape Town, S. Africa (after hanging out with penguins!)

Total writing time: 5:30 hrs