Why Entrepreneurs Should Work on a New Project Every Few Months

When you are a full-time entrepreneur, typically you are working on multiple projects at a time. When building a company, there is a process that you have to go through, from whiteboard to launch. On a daily basis, your focus is usually devoted to each piece of this process. In this episode I explain why it’s a good idea to go through this process at least once a year whether you are building a new company or not.

Here’s the transcript from this podcast episode, please excuse any typos!

In today’s episode we’re going to talk about why entrepreneurs should work on a new project, every few months, or at least once a year. When you’re a full time serial entrepreneur like me. Typically you’ll be working on multiple projects at a time. And when you’re building a new company or a startup, there’s a process that you have to go through from whiteboard to launch on a daily basis. Your focus is usually devoted to each piece of this process. And of course, each product or service has a different process, but it’s still a process. For example, let’s say you have a new app idea and you want to build this new platform, there’s a process for that, it usually goes something like this. First, you’ll want to write out a 32nd pitch so that people can understand what your idea is so you can see if it’s even worth pursuing. You can even write a bullet list of points that explain your concept in more details so that you can kind of give people a little bit more information.

Another way to help people understand your idea would be by drawing out your concept on a whiteboard or a piece of paper so that you can actually visualize it, and then show people what it looks like after that you usually want to write out the functionality of the platform step by step in a technical document everything from what happens when you click on a button to what the colors might look like to what type of database tables you might have basically everything about your platform in a document. If you’re good at graphic design you’ll want to then design your platform in Photoshop or another graphic design tool, so you can visualize how it looks, and again show people what it looks like once you have all this done, you’re ready to start building your MVP or minimum viable product, which means you have to now decide which programming languages, you want to use to build your platform. Again, you want to take the building process step by step. And if you don’t know how to code you can either teach yourself or you can find a programmer to help you along.

At least you have all of these documents and designs ready to show a programmer. Once you’ve built the platform now of course you have to get people to test it, and you have to find beta testers, so that’s another step in the process is getting users to now test your product to give you feedback. And then of course, once you’ve gotten feedback and data and you’ve been able to iterate on your platform or change it tweak it based on what the data you were getting in the feedback you’re getting. Now you can launch it to the world which means you have to start marketing it and getting awareness for your brand. And, you know, talking to journalists pitching investors, and so on. And there are so many other things in between these points that you have to do in order to successfully launch a new platform.

These are just some of them, the more important ones I think that you really have to do in order to succeed. But here’s where the cool part is along the way, you’ll most likely learn a bunch of new things, and the skills that you’re going to pick up along the way if you put the time and effort in are going to be very valuable. There’s a reason why Google flew me out to their headquarters in 2015, they saw that I had value in the startup world, they saw that I was able to build a lot of companies, they saw that I had a lot of strategies and methodologies that I wrote down in my book, and they realized that I put the time and the effort into learn all this stuff and then I can possibly help their startups and their entrepreneurs. One of the things I realized by starting a new business every six months or whatnot, is that I was keeping my mind focused and sharp and I take a walk with my dog for example and I come up with an idea, I put it into my phone in my notes so that I don’t forget it. And then I can work on that idea if I come back to it later and I see that it’s actually a good idea. I’ll come back to it and I’ll work on it. Part of being an entrepreneur is actually coming up with ideas. And then, documenting those ideas and going through the list of the process, you know to make that idea come to fruition in some way maybe you don’t build the idea. Matter of fact, it doesn’t mean you should actually start a new company every few months or once a year.

All I’m saying is that you should get used to the process of creating the foundation for a new idea. So, jot down your notes, jot down your ideas, post them on a notepad or in the clouds so that you don’t forget them. And you can come back to them whenever you’re ready for a new idea you’re itching for a new business and you have a list of ideas ready to go. Let’s say you’re lucky, you’re really hard, and one of your ideas took off, and you made a bunch of money. And what I notice about the success stories out there the startups that took off or the entrepreneurs that made a name for themselves. More often than not they don’t have a follow up idea, they’re one hit wonder, they had one idea that did really well, but then they run out of steam. Just that one idea does really well. And this is why I think it’s good to have a whole bunch of ideas ready for you to take to the next level, because you have the documentation, you have the designs you have the idea is written out and investors also like this they like the fact that you might have a whole portfolio of ideas waiting to be created. Plus, they’ll feel that you’re an expert at starting a new company, because you know the ins and outs of how to manage each aspect because you’ve been working on it.

One of the ways I find this to be valuable as well as by going through these processes of building a new business, and each detailed piece of the process is that you can be a consultant for other companies, because most companies need help in a lot of different ways, obviously. So if you have the skills, the knowledge and the resources available to do that to help them. And you can help them build new products or platforms or tools or maybe you can come up with new designs for them. You learn how to do it, you’ve been doing it on a regular basis. And if you keep doing it. That means that you’re staying on top of what’s called Best Practices companies like Google and Apple. They set new standards for UI UX user interface user experience all the time. So it’s good to keep up with all of those and incorporate them into the daily routine of your startup so if your businesses have your ideas.

Do your research, see what’s new in the world of technology, implement it into your daily process. If you do this, you will always be up to date, and you’ll have the newest and best practices ingrained in your company, or in your daily routine. Let’s say you own a brick and mortar shop, and you have great products in your shop. But you have found yourself to be succeeding in a way where the store is running itself, basically your employees running the shop, you find yourself just managing the accounting and the paychecks and things like that. So now you have some time on your hands, why not dive into a new idea or a new product to make your line even better make your product offerings even, even more available to people. This is why you should be drawing ideas down jotting notes down, constantly coming up with ideas and just keeping your brain, active, maybe you’re a programmer, and you’ve always wanted to learn how to design and you’re pretty comfortable in your programming job but you’d like to kind of venture out into the design world, so why not learn how to design the apps that you build and start to pick up a new skill. I feel like a lot of people don’t want to learn a new skill because they say it’s too hard, it takes too long.

De has the world is hard, life is hard. The struggle is real. It is not easy, and there’s no such thing as a shortcut. There’s no such thing as a get rich quick scheme, unless you win the lottery and that’s not going to happen unless again you are a super super super lucky person. So you have to do things the traditional way, hard work, research, putting the hours in. But I find it funny too over the years. I had to perform certain tasks, whether it was like video editing or sound editing or things that weren’t typically related to like a tech startup right because I do a lot of different things, whether it was something in Photoshop or, or maybe writing some content in a certain piece of software like screenplay and final draft. There’s a lot of other scenarios I can give. And I found myself struggling and forgetting certain things. And I was like, Oh no, like I actually forgot. For example, I forgot how to code, a certain thing for a website or I forgot how to do something in Photoshop and I had to relearn it.

So I started forcing myself to do these projects, video, audio graphics content, whatever it was. Now I find myself, forcing myself to do these things. Anyway, and this is why I like to help entrepreneurs because then I can keep those skills active right and I find new ways of doing those skills, and I actually might find entrepreneurs that show me a thing or two because they’re experts in skills that I’m just okay at, and then I find myself learning something new and I’m like oh so I can do it a different way, even better so it’s good to kind of stay active in the skills that you’re good at, or the ones that you’re not good at and keep pushing yourself to do those things so that you don’t forget how to do them and so that you can learn how to do them in a better way. So what if I’m not a full time programmer anymore, or a full time designer or any of the other things that I do. I still make myself create new websites, I still update my websites I have like 10 websites or more and I update them once a year, minimum sometimes even more, just to keep up with current trends current designs, keep my skills active so I don’t forget things, believe it or not, this is the best way to run a business in general, is to just keep working keep staying active keep building, keep learning. In the end, you’ll find yourself to be a valuable asset to other companies. I myself am now considered a project manager.

I help people with their projects in any way they need. Sometimes I get asked to become the CEO of a company and a co founder, or Chief Operating Officer or just on the advisory board to give them suggestions and feedback. And when companies or entrepreneurs pitch me, I like the idea. I generally say yes because I know that I’m going to continue to be able to utilize my skills, utilize my knowledge, and help entrepreneurs make fewer mistakes. And of course, I wrote my book and made my course in order to help more people than what I’m able to by myself. So don’t be afraid to go through the process. Definitely jot down ideas, and even if you don’t want to build a new business, at least lay the foundation down for the business, which means go as far as maybe having your bullet list your technical document, and maybe some mock ups, and then stop, you don’t have to go any further than that, at least you have that I mean, on my computer, I probably have like 50 folders full of different ideas, and every so often I grab one that I think is relevant because I’ve been thinking about it and I see that it’s still needed in society. And then I start building it. And I already have the foundation laid out so I can kind of jump in a lot quicker than I would have if I had to start from scratch. Remember, your brain is your most powerful muscle. And if you don’t use it a little, lose it.

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Jason Sherman