How to get started with anything


There’s a funny thing about getting started: it’s the hard part. At least that’s what I believe, when really, the hardest part (and most important part) is to just keep going.

In Andrew Warner’s guide on getting started with video interviews, he said:

I don’t want you doubting yourself or procrastinating after your first interview. I want you to increase your motivation to do another (and another and another).

“If only I could bring the courage to get this thing started, things will slot into place.“ This was my thinking. Yet, I don’t think that’s right anymore. The much more important thing to focus on is how you start. So you can keep doing it.

The one quote I keep coming back to is this:

Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going. – unknown

You need to craft the way you get started carefully, so you can keep going and turn it into a habit.

How I got started with Buffer – The Joel way

I am sure you know this. You get started with a dozen of things and want to all do them perfectly. When I got involved with Buffer, for probably the very firs time, how I did this was completely different.

Buffer was live for about 1 month and had around 110 users. Joel and I had a brief Skype chat. He mentioned it was time for him to move from developing to marketing. So I offered I could help out with a few things.

What Joel suggested, was that I would spend 30 minutes per day, monitoring the Buffer Twitter account. That meant Buffering a few Tweets, replying to people and following new folks.

And that was it. For 2 weeks, that’s all I did. Being on Twitter for @bufferapp for 30 minutes.

Then we “stepped it up”. We setup a blog and agreed that I would blog once per week on it. So for another 4 weeks, I was blogging once and Tweeting a little.

And from there things started to kick off. As soon as I had this habit of Tweeting and blogging once per week, nearly nothing could go wrong. I could try all sorts of other marketing aspects.

If I got bored, overwhelmed or frustrated, I would still fall back on my established Tweeting habits and blogging once per week.

(I keep referring to Joel’s thoughts, examples and ways of doing things. He is probably the person I learnt the most from about startups and life. You can read more from him here.)

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for everything you start

In the startup world, Eric Ries spread the idea of a Minimum Viable Product. It’s a concept that seems so simple, yet is so hard to execute on.

It means to build something so minimal, so simple and bare, that if you cut anything out further, it would fall apart. Reaching this point is damn hard. So if you ask yourself, “How minimal should it be?” Ries said:

“Probably much more minimal than you think.”

Here is a fully fledged, real life MVP example.

To give you an idea of a few other things, and how their MVP’s look like, here is a list of things that we have done and tested in the past:

  • Starting out going to the gym: Start with 1 exercise in your bedroom and 1 repetition. This should take you 5 minutes every day.
  • Hiring someone: Ask the person to do 1 task per day, that shouldn’t take them longer than 1-2 hours.
  • Blogging: Get a shitty blog setup (like this one) and blog on it once every two weeks. Write no more than 500 words in your first posts. When you hit 500 words stop. Just stop and hit publish.

This is way to easy for me. I could do a workout for 1 hour already, I could blog twice per week already, I could hire that person full time already.

That’s what I used to think. Yet, this is the whole idea. It is SO easy, that you can do it so consistently without any problems. And you can validate that you wanted to go to them gym/ start a blog/ hire that person much faster.

Your goal should be to make this into a habit. Research suggests, something becomes a habit if you have done it for 21 times consistently. Focus everything on that!

So, the art is not to start. The art is how to start.

Leave a Comment