Brain Food

Nail it then Scale it: How to Avoid Startup Death & Navigate as you Innovate



Essentially, if entrepreneurs didn’t really believe in their ideas, they would never have the courage to risk their effort, reputation, and money by taking action.

But precisely because entrepreneurs believe so deeply in their idea, they jump into action by investing in creating a business, building a product, and then spending the money to try and sell it. What they almost always overlook is one deadly fact: that their belief is only a guess at what customers want that needs to be quickly and iteratively tested in the market before doing all those other “good” things.

In their Book Nail It then Scale It: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Creating and Managing Breakthrough Innovation Nathan Furr and Paul Ashlstrom outline the process of creating innovative products that solve problems, targeting and communicating with the right markets and refining your strategy before scaling your business. It’s a guide to perfecting your business plan and expanding your company, in the correct order:

  1. Nail the pain. Great businesses begin with a customer problem that has a big and monetisable pain point. Avoid the three big mistakes, of guessing but not testing the pain (on real customers), selecting a low customer pain (solution is only nice to have), or selecting a narrow customer pain (small number of customers willing or able to pay).
  2. Nail the solution. Neither breakthrough technology nor maximum features will assure that “if we build it, they will come.” In fact, NISI recommends starting with the minimum focused set of features and technology that will drive a customer purchase. Success demands testing the solution early and quickly in the market, then iterating to get it right.
  3. Nail the go-to-market strategy. In parallel with nailing the solution, you need an in-depth understanding of your target customer’s buying process, the job they are trying to get done, the market infrastructure, and a stable of serious pilot customers. Do real tests with real pricing to see if customers will pay you, without being pushed.
  4. Nail the business model. Leverage your customer conversations to predict and validate your business model. For example, when you think about distribution channels, revenue streams, or the relationship with the customer, ask customers what they expect. Don’t forget a viable financial model of costs, margins, customer acquisition, and break-even.
  5. Scale it. Don’t attempt to scale it until you have a proven repeatable business model that predictably generates revenue. Only then is it time to focus on the get-big-fast strategy, and the transformation of three key areas from startup to a managed growth company. These areas include market, process, and team transitions.

The book is for:

  • Entrepreneurs and anyone who wants to start a business
  • Business owners fed up with traditional economic models!

Read/Listen to 15 minutes of all the ‘good parts’ on Blinkist – the App for curious minds.


3 Kinds of ‘Deep Work’ that will Make you Stop Rushing and Start Perfecting



Have you ever sipped a Macallan M whisky? If you have then you’ve certainly done well for yourself; a bottle of this spirit will set you back around $3,500. Most of us might think that paying that much for a bottle of hooch is a bit ridiculous, but there is a reason it costs so much. It took Bob Dalgarno, the master whisky maker behind the M, more than two years to craft, and it contains a blend of the world’s finest whiskies—some which date back to 1940. All this time spent on making the drink ensured that it was of the highest possible quality. Taking the time to craft a product as perfect as Macallan M isn’t exactly in vogue in the modern world!

Slowness makes perfect

Sometimes the benefits of going it slow are too obvious to ignore. For example, Steve Jobs’s passion for crafting beautiful, well-designed, and perfectly functioning products led to some of the most innovative and successful artifacts of all time. The Apple II, the groundbreaking home computer released in 1977, is a wonderful case in point. According to Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, the Apple founder went through over 2,000 shades of beige when looking for the perfect color for the machine, and he spent days agonising over how round the corners of the case should be. Although this slow, deliberative approach upset a lot of Apple managers, they did help ensure that the computer was a huge success: between 1977 and 1980 it made over $118 billion in sales.

As beneficial as spending time on something is, it isn’t easy to carve out the necessary time. Often, that time-poor feeling has little to do with an actual paucity of hours in the day. It’s actually distractions that rob you of the time you could be using for focused work. Consider this: according to author John Freeman, the average worker is distracted over 11 times an hour, mostly by email. This means that even if we wanted to spend an age perfecting something, we simply wouldn’t have enough bandwidth. But maybe wider isn’t the answer, anyway. You can free up the time you need by going deeper.

But maybe wider isn’t the answer, anyway. You can free up the time you need by going deeper.

Getting to know Deep Work

Cal Newport’s. book Deep Work. offers suggestions on how we can all cut through the noise and the constant requests for our attention to better devote large chunks of our days to focused, important work. In these periods we switch off our emails and social media, ensure that we can’t be distracted by others, and focus on one important task. If we follow Newport’s advice and create these pockets of focused work, then we can stop rushing things and start perfecting them. There are three ways to practice Deep Work, so you can find one that works for you.

The 3 kinds of Deep Work

1. The monastic approach. Take yourself away from the world and focus exclusively on your endeavor. Mark Twain used this approach when writing; he used his own little shed where he’d shut out the world and devote all his focus to his work.

2.  The bimodal approach. Rather than spending your whole day in seclusion, divide your day in two. One period can be spent with your email and social media turned off in deep work, the other working as normal.

3. The rhythmic approach. This is the best for those who don’t have that much time available. Here you block off shorter, 90 minute periods for focused work. Although this doesn’t seem like much, you’ll be amazed by how much great work you’ll get done.

Remember that on the way to making magic, speed isn’t always the most important thing. It can be more rewarding (and more lucrative) to settle down, get focused, and take the time to create something perfect.

If you’re ready to start perfecting your work and want to deeper –  we recommend reading: ‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport. Get it on Blinkist – The app for the smart & the curious amongst us.