The Two Most Important Rules For Entrepreneurs

I’m 29 years old. I was 19 the last time I had a “regular job.”

Over the last ten years, in one form or another, I’ve been an entrepreneur.

I’ve had failures and successes. More failures, if I’m honest. I feel lucky to have had success, too. I’ve learned a lot from both.

For the past 8 years, I’ve been a strategic advisor to other entrepreneurs. In that time, I’ve learned one of the simple truths of business.

Most businesses, regardless of what they make or sell, actually do the same thing.

Businesses help people in exchange for money. That’s it. We all help people. This is as true for the chef who cooks your dinner as it is for the mobile app that helped you find his restaurant.

We all have to be helpful to succeed, but being helpful isn’t enough. Helpfulness is simply the price of admission.

If you want to build an extremely successful business, you have to do two extra things.

Here are the two simple rules I teach my clients, and try to follow in my own businesses.

1. Create more than you consume.
2. When you create, do it at scale.

Let me explain what I mean, and why these two rules are so essential to your success.

Create More Than You Consume

You have so many opportunities to consume… stuff. I don’t know what else to call it. Content?

You have reality TV, Facebook, millions of blogs, games on your phone, 24-hour news networks, and Reddit. You’re consuming this blog post right now.

Unfortunately, most consumption doesn’t actually help you. Not in terms of your business being successful.

Creation is what matters.

All entrepreneurs know this instinctively. You have to make stuff. Whether it’s software, or food, iPads, advice, gourmet spices, an electric car, or even a blog post…entrepreneurs are defined by what we create.

“Steve Jobs was a great entrepreneur because of how many blog posts he read.” Said no one ever. >>Click here to tweet that<<

I’ve personally wasted hundreds thousands of hours being a consumer; and that time has been fun. Enjoyable. A pleasant distraction.

Of course, we all consume stuff. I doubt any of us could stop completely. That’s not the point.

The point is that we should focus on creating more than we consume.

Most days, I fail to live up to that rule. The days I am a net-consumer leave me where I started, but with less time. The days I am a net-creator help me move my business further toward my goals.

Part of the motivation for my write every day experiment was to get into the habit of being a creator. So far, so good–you’re reading this post after all.

When You Create, Do It At Scale

I’ve spent many years as a consultant, working with hundreds of different clients. I help them one at a time. This has worked out pretty well, but it’s not all that scaleable.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love working with entrepreneurs one-on-one. I love the impact we can have when our efforts are focussed, but it’s not the best business model.

In 8 years, I’ve helped hundreds of clients. I’ve told many of them about these two rules. That sounds pretty good, but even this blog post is more scalable. Over time, it will probably be read by thousands of people. It’s only taken me an hour to write.

So, eight years to help hundreds of people versus one hour to (eventually) help thousands. Which sounds better to you?

Of course, it’s much better to be helpful at scale. That’s why so many smart entrepreneurs are starting a blog that matters.

This doesn’t just work with creating content. It works no matter what you create.

Henry Ford’s assembly line brought us into the era of scalability. Modern software delivery is incredibly scaleable. You can make an app and sell a million copies–if you’re lucky. Even advice has become scaleable–an ebook can sell a thousand copies.

That’s not to say mass produced stuff is better. I have a soft spot for handmade objects and art. I just wouldn’t want to be in the business of making those things. It seems hard.

Whatever your business, create more than you consume. When you create, do it at scale. I promise it will make all the difference for you, and the people you help.

I promise to do the same.

Let me know how it goes.

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Comments

  1. Brilliant. I’ve taken every word of this post to heart. Thanks, John.

  2. Hey John,

    Wonderfully succinct – hits at the heart of what a business needs to create: value!
    Love this experiment! KF

    • Thanks Kathy! I hope you caught the nod to your spice business. I bet tens of thousands of people have eaten your spices over the years because of the way you’ve scaled your business.

  3. Wow, just bring it all down to two little rules? Great job. I wish I had read this 10 years ago … 😉

    The first thing that comes to mind, after having been through 15 days of your experiment and posting every single day, is something simple also:

    Creating is much harder than consuming.

    Just picture the unshaven guy on the couch with a can of Miller Lite and the remote. Then picture the physicist in his lab working on a new serum–late on a Friday. Those are extremes, of course. But where we choose to be on that spectrum will determine where we will end up, how fast we’ll get there, and, dare I go this far, the type of person we’ll be. It’s our choice. Thanks for making that choice all the more clear, John.

    • Bradley, thanks man! I’m glad you liked this post.

      I’m still blown away that you’ve published 19 posts in 15 days.

      You’re right, creation is harder than consumption. I think most of that is because of how easy consumption has become. I think it’s a bigger issue than just with entrepreneurs.

      Thanks for the great comment!

  4. Well said and well received. Of course on a good day we may all be a net creator in areas of our specialty, and still a net consumer in areas of someone else’s specialty …like bookkeeping or public transportation.

    • Great points Ray!

      On a large scale, consumption is the foundation of our whole economy. On a smaller scale, we all make decisions about how we spend our time. That’s where the choice to create starts to separate those people who have a big impact on the world.

      Cheers!

  5. Nicely done John. I am ready for more!

  6. Love it!

  7. Hey John,

    Definitely agree with creating more than you consume. It’s so easy to read about creating something that a lot of people fall into the trap of too much consumption and not enough creation.

    I definitely struggle with this – and part of it is because I’m new to the scene and I want to make sure I get things right the first time. But, on the other side of the coin, I have to expect to fail – it’s the only way to improve.

    These are two great business mantras we could all hang up on our wall to remind ourselves of everyday. Thanks!

  8. Hi Kristen,

    We were talking about what it’s called when we’re creating, but it might not be up to the high standards we’d like. What’s that stuff called in the middle, the part that’s not your best work, it could be better, hopefully you’ll come back to it at some point and improve on it?

    Practice

    We can’t expect to create a masterpiece in one go–and on the first try. We need to work at it, work on it, keep improving, keep trying. If we wait around for it to be perfect, it’s going to be a long wait. Also, if you just call it an experiment, you can’t fail!

    I like that you said that you “have to expect to fail.” I think that’s already a large hurdle removed.

  9. If you ever feel like writing a blog post that’s more about how to do it at scale and goes into more detail, please let me know! Really curious about this idea. 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] really quite simple and it all has to do with scale. Can I show someone else how to do this so I don’t have to do it again? If I document my […]

  2. […] of my all-time favorite posts on the subject is “The Two Most Important Rules For Entrepreneurs” by John Muldoon. I’m not going to give you the two rules so that you have to go read […]

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