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Well, I feel like a bit of a change every so often. So I moved from Mailchimp to Substack because they store all these newsletters online for anyone to browse. Which means maybe my writing will be found by more people.
Now onto the content…
Insights from my interview with Audrey Cheng on the Finding Impact Podcast
Audrey Cheng is the founder of Moringa School in Nairobi. I interviewed her in Episode 43 about bootstrapping i.e. building a company without any outside funding.
Some things I learned:
- When founders seek investment too early, they're giving away huge chunks of their company at a rock bottom price. The more customers you can get, the better proof you have that the market wants your product. You should only raise money when you're ready to start scaling.
- When bootstrapping your company, expect your income to fall for a while. Your diet may suffer. You will go without certain luxuries. You need to be fully aware of how much money you have in the bank and the rate you're burning through it.
- Only make your first hires when they can save you money or help you bring in more revenue. Every person you hire needs to be seen through this lens. You won't be able to afford market rates, so you'll need to be able to sell your vision
- But bootstrapping gives you the discipline you need to focus on finding what your customers will pay for, then selling and iterating your product.
- Grants are tempting but they can be distracting. They require a huge investment of time and energy. From applying, being rejected, networking, and writing. So much time goes into winning grants and managing the donor. The decision should not be taken lightly.
- Focus is key to achieving any goals you set in your life. There are a hundred things you could do with your time, so you need to allocate it wisely. The hardship you feel from bootstrapping gives you the gift of discipline. It is your friend. Welcome it in and use it to help you focus on what's important.
On building trust
A quote from Tolstoy caught my eye. It aligns with my twitter rant on jargon (that I wrote about last time). When we speak in an elaborate and sophisticated way, not only are we confusing people, but we're losing an opportunity to build trust.
When people speak in a very elaborate and sophisticated way, they either want to tell a lie, or to admire themselves. You should not believe such people. Good speech is always clear, clever, and understood by all." — Leo Tolstoy
On unconscious bias
Insights from Unravelling Unconscious Bias, with Dr Pragya Agarwal and Kavita Puri
Unconscious bias is an evolutionary mechanism that helps us spot threats in our community. When we see people who are perceived to be not part of our community, survival instinct kicks in. As such, we are naturally positively biased towards people who look, think, talk and behave like us. Alot of our biases can be traced back to these roots.
This relates to the thesis proposed by Daniel Kahneman in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow that we have two ways of thinking. System 1 thinking is quick and instinctive. The other is slow and logical.
Biases sit in the quick, instinctive system 1 thinking. We create templates in our brain from information we take in from the world around us, so we can act quickly if there's a perceived threat. Like stereotypes, this information may come from the media, in the childhood stories we've read or from previous experience.
The good news is, we're not cave men and women anymore and we can compensate for how our primitive brain behaves.
On sourdough and fashion
Remember back when lockdown just hit? I was filled with a sense of civic pride. I wanted to do something for my community, to do anything I could to ease the suffering of friends and family.
I since heard everyone was making sourdough. I wasn't the only one. But no one was making it in their socks in flip flops. Being different is free marketing. (I'm waiting for it to go viral any day now.)
If you have any cringe-worthy lockdown stories, please do share.
If you're enjoying these occasional newsletters, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get all week.
And should you come across anything interesting these next two weeks, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.
Have a great couple of weeks.