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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Shit Entrepreneurs Say

Google any business advice and you'll find contradiction.<...>

They'll say don't raise funding and avoid the (current) bubble. Or that there's no way to build a million / billion dollar business by bootstrapping.

They also say test and validate your ideas, because you really don't want to waste time or money building something no one wants. Others say build it and they will come.

Everyone's definition of what MVP really means will differ. But remember, regardless of how you define (your) MVP, you have to be lean.

When picking an idea to work on, they'll say pick something you're passionate about, because that's sustainable. Or perhaps you'll build something to scratch your own itch (and hope it'll help others too).

Many entrepreneurs will favour a B2B environment where they can sell their customers painkillers. And if the pain isn't significant enough, then you'll be fucked.

But there's so many other entrepreneurs that have made millions selling vitamins in both B2B and B2C environments.

There's a growth hacking tactic published for every scenario you can imagine. None of them however seems to be a perfect fit for what you're trying to do.

Clever people will tell you that it's impossible to replicate their blueprint (of success). But here's that blueprint anyway.

You'll see countless debates of where tech startups should base themselves. And if you're not in Silicon Valley, you've already attached a higher probability to your failure rate.

And you'll encounter articles that are aimed at inspiring and motivating, because they say JFDI, don't be scared and now is the best time to start. Heck nobody is ever ready, but everyone does it anyway.


In the last year, I made the mistake of taking too much of this content on board. The diversity and full spectrum of the opinions were just too much for my mind to accurately decipher.

As a result, I fucked up. A couple of times.

I lost a certain youthful ignorance (that has nothing to do with age) that was probably a competitive advantage when I first ventured into entrepreneurship.

That ignorance was based in the notion that there'll always be more than one way of skinning a cat. And I'll be backing myself - through trial-and-error - to find at least one way that enables me to make progress.

If I look back at my 6-year journey with WooThemes, I can identify so many imperfections and supposed contradictions to advocated best practices. Heck, if I had to measure WooThemes' success based purely on what experts says I should and shouldn't do, it'd be a massive failure.

By all counts though, that'd be a long way from the truth.

I suspect that's the same for an incredible amount of businesses out there.

Very few things are ever perfect and there's not many best practices that are truly generic enough to apply to most businesses most of the time.


All of this was a reminder that there's something about entrepreneurship that can't be quantified, summarized or distilled into generic best practice.

Instead there's elements of randomness involved that is core to the way that all entrepreneurs (and businesses) operate. Specifically because every entrepreneur, every business and every scenario is different.

Be cautious of the shit that entrepreneurs say; it might just not be applicable to you in any way. (This article included.)

Learn from others. Research and get context. But remember that there's more than one way of skinning the cat.

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