I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.
I repeated these words frantically to myself as I was taking a walk, trying to figure out not only what my problems were, but what the answers were as well.
How do I get more traffic to my website? Should I be getting more traffic to my website? Should I be improving the product? Am I charging the right price? Maybe it’s too expensive? Maybe it’s too cheap?
I don’t know.
Should I be going out and meeting people? Networking? Connecting? Maybe someone else will know?
I don’t know.
I’ve gotten help along the way, but everyone sort of says the same thing. Jason Fried is a really nice guy, and he’s responded to a few of my emails when I asked him for help starting out. In the beginning of Standard Notes, the main question I had was, should I begin charging right away, or keep everything free to attract as many users as possible, then after gaining a stable user base, begin working out a revenue model?
It sounds obvious now (for a bootstrapped company, start charging yesterday), but at the time, I lost several weeks of sleep to this question. I was so carefully afraid of moving in the wrong direction and accidentally killing my project. I asked Jason if he had any insight, not realizing that I’d be putting him in a difficult situation. And he gave the best answer anyone in his situation could possibly give.
He quoted a part of my email and said “You answered your question right there.”
If I forego revenue right now, I might be able to attract more people to the platform because of the cool benefits of the subscription package. But I’ll miss out on building a sustainable business, and also delay my goal of making enough to do this full time.
Indeed I did.
I bring up Jason because he tweeted this some time ago, and it made me feel better about my cluelessness:
Seek fewer mentors. Seek more self-confidence. Too many people are stuck waiting for someone wiser to show them the way. There is no way.
All this time, I had went about my lack of knowledge of building up a company as a sort of education that I was lacking. That there were answers that others knew, that I just did not have the access to. So I searched the internet, I searched books, and I searched people, looking for answers to my incessant questions. But I never found them.
That’s because they didn’t exist.
I don’t have children, but I imagine building a company is like raising a child—each one will be infinitely unique and different from the other. There are generic answers available everywhere, but ultimately, it will be instinct, love, and care that will set it apart from the others and create the best possible environment for success.
Today, "I don’t know" is still a staple of my vocabulary. And as much as I hate not knowing, in a sick sort of way, I kind of like it too. The unknown is scary to death, but it’s so damn exciting.
You’ll figure it out. Just keep going.