I have had this little note in my content factory for over 15 months and this week I finally made up my mind to write about it.
Why did I hesitate for so long?
It is because we live in such a fast-paced world! We all enjoy quick, actionable types of content, right? So to talk about being happier, hmm, I just can’t see how it can be practical for you.
But if you’ve read from me for a while, you might know that I hate to churn out something repetitive or one-dimensional. I believe in niching down but I also believe that I’m more than my niche. I believe in serving my community (you) but I also believe in writing what I find important.
Alright, in August 2022, I read this essay titled “How to Be Happy”.
I was drawn to it because as parents of 2 young daughters, my wife and I constantly think about this! While a lot of parents around us are thinking about joining the best schools, all we want is two happy human beings with strong language skills to pursue what they want in life.
This is also why I’m prioritizing building this education business that allows me to spend more time with my family.
As usual, my brain is wired in a way that connects everything to my so-called niche “building in public”. As I read the essay, I started forming all these connections between being a happy person and being a happy entrepreneur.
In the end, the author shared 14 methods to become happier. There are 4 that stood out to me.
The essay says that by increasing your empathy and agreeableness, you can be happy.
In building in public, a common misconception I see over and over is that people think it is all about “showing”.
You talk and talk and people watch and see.
Here’s a recent comment I got from one of my lessons in Build in Public Mastery:
Most people know the “show” part, but it is not enough.
Showing only works if you happen to have a product that is on a rocket ship. I had an early community member, Bhanu, who built SiteGPT.ai when the AI wave was starting. It quickly caught on and he is now reaching $150k in revenue in 2023.
For most entrepreneurs, you have to take a very different approach. You need to work closely with real people to understand them, to listen to feedback, and to fine-tune your products. When you just talk and talk, nobody cares about what you say.
This is why I suggest you to reposition yourself. Yes, you’re building this product. But what’s the purpose of the product? It is to help a group of people.
When you’re building in public, your stories should be less about you and more about why they should care about your work. Show them what you’re working on and also share how it helps them.
When you build in public, you have to continuously listen to the people around you. When you have more empathy, you’re a happy entrepreneur!
The essay says that by being more organized and reliable, yyou can be happy.
I noticed one thing about a lot of entrepreneurs trying to build in public — they rely on what they think of or how they feel that particular day to create content to share.
This week we had a group call at Build in Public Sprint and we discussed this challenge:
The consensus is that … it doesn’t work!
You might assume that I’m very good at building in public so I have fresh ideas every day, but I’d tell you that I don’t.
Building in public actually requires me to be organized.
I usually plan ahead and say, “In 2024 Q1, I want to launch this new thing. This means I should start working on it and talking about it starting in December.” You see? Building in public can be on and off, like a sprint.
Also, I don’t do it on the fly. It is impossible for me to create content every day. My brain isn’t capable of doing that.
So every Monday, I’d sit down, look at my documented ideas, and create content from there.
It is so easy when the ingredients are already there — the art of documentation.
Another thing I do is to think about — which product do I want some eyeballs on this week?
What’s interesting enough to share or what help do I need from the community? Then I can write 2-3 pieces of content on Monday and they take care of my building in public for the whole week.
When you build in public, you plan ahead and are more organized. You’re a happy entrepreneur!
The essay says that by spending time thinking about happy memories, you can be happy.
Seriously, entrepreneurship is hard! Especially if you’re doing it solo. I recently shared that I was quite unproductive this year after baby Audrey was born. I didn’t really catch myself losing focus until half a year later!
What I like about building in public with my community is that I see these amazing people as my partners. A few examples:
- I share my retrospectively openly in my Build in Public Mastery program — all the numbers, lessons learned, struggles, etc. Oftentimes, members reach out to me and share a few ways to improve the program. That immediately helps me regain clarity because who else can give you better feedback other than the users themselves?
- The scary thing about building new products is that you don’t really know how well it can turn out. How many people will buy? You end up overspending lots of time fine-tuning trivial things hoping to increase sales, but honestly, you have no idea.
When I show my progress as I create my products, people come in to give me reactions, feedback, and even pre-order sales all the time. And this actually gives me a boost in confidence! I have more motivation to improve the products and launch them quickly.
When my partners (my community) interact with me because they need what I build, I make sure to thank them. This creates a network of healthy relationships.
When you build in public, you create a lot of positive moments with your community. You’re a happy entrepreneur!
The essay says that by finding and living your purpose, you can be happy.
I know this is super hard. I don’t have an easy way to help you find your purpose, but I do think that building in public can get you closer to this goal.
Why? Many people would only commit time to do marketing and building in public once they confirm (internally) that an idea is a winning one. That’s why they give up soon. They don’t see it as a process. They see it as a traditional marketing funnel — get impressions, push offers, and get sales.
To me, building in public is a process to discover winning ideas.
I honestly didn’t know that my 1st project, the free Build in Public guide, would become a success. If it failed, I wouldn’t be here talking to you. And do you think I would still be so excited to talk about building in public? Definitely not…
If no one listened to me, I’d have lost my purpose already.
The reason it was a success was because I built it in public with my community, so I got so many signals, feedback, and support along the way. I reflected almost on a daily basis and that gave me clarity.
You likely won’t get it right the first time, but over time you’ll get pretty good at it.
Every time I build with my community, I realize my initial ideas are terrible. But they are great starting points! I iterate with the community’s help and that’s how I make sure the end products are in demand and I can sell them for a long time.
When you show up and work with real people, you gain clarity. You’re a happy entrepreneur!
I don’t know how important being happy is to you, but I’m willing to bet it is very important!
When you’re a happy entrepreneur, your energy and excitement spill over to your audience and customers. They want to join the movement you’re creating. You also get to celebrate small wins along the way with the people who support you. You’re less likely to achieve nothing and give up.
This is also why a lot of entrepreneurs are putting their communities at the center of their work.
When you build in public, you’re giving yourself a chance to unlock the power of the Internet.