Progress is not automatic

I’ve recently talked to a several people I haven’t talked to in more than 2 years.

The one thing that stood out for me was that basically everyone is still playing the exact same game on the exact same level.

Many that were indie hacking 2 years ago - building little projects that generate $500/month here and there - are all still doing just that. A few projects died in the meantime, a few others got launched, and overall there was little net gain.

Most new projects are some variation of the projects they had launched 2 years ago.

People who focused on some content project 2 years ago are still doing some variation of it with hardly any progress in the meantime. Most did quit and reboot their project a few times but overall it’s still the same thing.

These conversations made it painfully clear that progress is not automatic.

You can’t just keep doing the exact same thing and expect wildly different outcomes.

More of the same will not unlock the next level.

This may seem obvious but it really isn’t.

It’s incredibly hard to stop doing something that is kind of working.

The projects are generating some revenue.

The newsletter is growing. Slow, yes, but the subscriber count is going up.

It’s like a bronze version of the golden handcuffs.

They are not even golden but still keep you trapped.

Another factor is that it’s natural to want to keep building on what you already know and own.

If you had some success building a certain type of project, you will want to keep building similar projects.

Starting from scratch is scary. It makes you feel like all previous efforts were wasted. There’s also a lot more uncertainty.

So most keep inching forward, taking small, manageable steps.

And as a result, they never end up far from where they started.

Sticking to what you know and what you’re good at is a recipe for stagnation.

People who 10x their results always do so by radically changing their approach.

Tim Ferriss did not 10x his audience by churning out more blog posts. Instead he wrote a book and launched a podcast.

His personal income did not 10x by selling more supplements or selling more ads but by investing in startups.

If I had kept building data products like Gum Spy, Product Explorer, or Newsletter Spy, my revenue maybe would have doubled in the last 2 years.

But since I started focusing on building an agency, it 10xed.

To be clear, this was not intentional. I’m just connecting the dots in hindsight.

Also I’m not writing this to throw shade at anyone.

This is just something I wish someone had told me 2 years ago.

It’s also something I need to hear right now.

My agency income has been mostly flat for a while and I’m pondering where that next 10x jump is going to come from.

I recently read 10x Is Easier Than 2x by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy.

One of their main points is exactly this: 10x steps require that you stop doing most of the things you’re doing right now. Otherwise you will be stuck in the incremental, linear improvement trap.

But I guess this is one of these simple ideas that you need to hear multiple times from different people and also observe in practice before you start actualizing it.

Also the real challenge is figuring out what exactly to keep and what to discard.

All I do know for sure is that more of the same is not the answer.

Written on April 16, 2024

PS: If you're interested in following my journey, sign up below: