Today on The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how not to get ahead of yourself.

Sometimes we tend to get ahead of ourselves when things are going well in our business, and this can be a bad thing as we tend to lose focus on what’s working and get distracted by what we could be doing.

In today’s episode of the show, Steli and Hiten talk about how to contain your ambition when things are going very well in your business, they share specific examples of how we can get ahead of ourselves and talk about why it’s a good idea to chill out sometimes and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic

00:31 Why this topic was chosen.

03:00 An example of how we can get ahead of ourselves sometimes.

04:05 Why it’s a good idea to chill out sometimes.

06:24 Why you shouldn’t worry about scaling at the early stages.

07:17 Why being small is ok in the beginning.

08:19 Issues you’ll have once you start scaling.

09:12 The importance of thinking about how to make things work.

10:36 A specific example of how one can get ahead of themselves.

3 Key Points:

  • Don’t let short term success turn into long term losses.
  • When you find something that you can work on and make money on, just make more money first.
  • Keep it simple! Small is ok in the beginning.



Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.



Hiten Shah : And this is Hiten Shah.



Steli Efti: And today on the Startup Chat, I don’t know what we’re talking about, maybe managing your ambition, managing your greed, taking it slower when things go well. I’m not quite sure how to frame this episode. I’m sure by the end of the episode, Hiten, you’re going to have like a killer title to use, but here’s what I want to talk to you about and what I want to share with the listeners. Last night a good friend of mine is visiting somebody that used to work for me and now he’s doing something on his own quite successfully and we had a long really exciting and great conversation about life and everything that’s going on. And at the very end he was like, you know, one thing, he had a question for me. Basically, you know, he did something entrepreneurial himself, put that on pause and then started doing coaching and consulting to founders, right, as a means to make money. He quickly realized that his skill set is really, really valuable and he’s able to make a ton of fucking money, right? More money than has ever made in his life being an entrepreneur or working for different startups. Right? And so he had now a few months of like really successfully kind of growing this coaching consulting thing that he’s doing. He has a bunch of clients that pay him every month. He makes, he paid down all his debt, he put up some savings. He made some investments and he is feeling fucking great. Right? The year’s ending, he was like, this shit is awesome. It’s fairly easy to do. I’m creating tons of value. I’m making all this money. I’ve paid all my debt. Like I feel amazing. Right? And now he was asking me, Steli, give me some advice. I’m struggling with this at the end of this year. I could keep doing this and I think if I make X, Y, Z improvements and additions, next year, he would make an insane amount of money. Right? That’s his kind of his assumption based on what he’s learned so far and I think he could do that fairly in a fairly straightforward fashion. But he said, but it’s limited. I could only make X amount of insane money and not even more, right? And now I’m thinking should I potentially instead of just doing this myself, should I start trying to build more of a business around this and hire a bunch of other consultants and coaches and kind of make this a much more scalable thing? And I looked at him and I said, if you, are you truly passionate about being a coach and a consultant and is this something that you would want to do the next 10, 20 years of your life? He’s like, absolutely not. No, I mean I like doing it and I’m good at it, but it’s definitely not what I want to do longterm. It’s just a short term moneymaking thing. Like if it’s a short term moneymaking thing, why the fuck would you want to change the mall? You’re just getting to a point where it’s somewhat working. You’re healthy, you look good, you sleep well, you know, You got back on your feet from some of the challenging things you did before. Why don’t you? And also he was basically thinking through this as if its already reached its peak potential and he’s way far away from it, right? He already thought through what he thinks maximally he could do on his own. He’s like, but if I reached this amount, let’s say a million dollars in personal income, well I could never reach two or three. So to do that. And they’re like, he, his ambition kind of and his imagination ran away with him. And I was like, wait a second. You haven’t earned a million dollars yet, right? You haven’t reached its full potential. You’ve not even done this a full year, right? You just did this for a few months now and it kind of working right now. Why don’t you just relax for a second and keep doing this and see how far you can take it, see if you can really, if you could really double or quadruple the personal income you’re generating or revenue you’re generating. You haven’t done it yet. Just because you think you can do it doesn’t mean you have already accomplished it. Make some more money, put some more savings, have some more fun, and then think through, maybe if you do this the entire year of 2019 and you still like doing it and you’ve proven you can make that much more money and you’ve proven now that these customers stay with you and you’ve proven all of these things, maybe at that point you can ask yourself, do I want to do this for another few years? Don’t I want to hire people and all that, but if you start hiring people, your problems will change. The challenges of running the business will fundamentally change. This will become a totally different thing. You’ll make a lot less money in the short and midterm, right? And it’s a much more of a longterm investment and don’t just trip and fall into something you’re going to be doing now for five, six, seven years that in hindsight, when you look back, you never wanted to be committed into this for the long term, right? Don’t, don’t let, don’t let this small town, small term success turn you into something really long term. And I have a lot of context on this person that I’m not going to share it right there. I couldn’t share the small example. So my advice was very concrete very quickly because I have so much context on him, but it made me think like how many people do this and I think we talked about this in the past of like the paradox of over committing to something and then many, many years later looking back and thinking, I never really wanted to do this for seven years of my life. Right? I just, it started as a small project and it kind of just like fell into doing this longer, longer, longer. So I wanted to talk about this. I felt like there’s maybe something here that is valuable to people that are listening to us and I’m dying to hear your completely different opinion or viewpoint or angle on how you’re gonna respond to this, but that’s the scenario. And I’m wondering what kind of advice would you give, what can we learn from this and what to tell others whether you disagree with me. Talk to me.



Hiten Shah : I think of this as how not to get ahead of yourself.



Steli Efti: Ahhh. See? That’s why I fucking love you.



Hiten Shah : I was like, okay, we need a title.



Steli Efti: We need a title.



Hiten Shah : Steli gave me a challenge, here. And I feel like your friend is excited, legit, you know, and is having fun and is doing what he’s meant to be doing. That’s huge. That’s huge. Like that, finding that is a very special moment, right? I wouldn’t want him to ruin that. And to me like, you know, when you find something that you can work on and make money on, just make more money first, just make more money. Don’t worry about scaling it, growing it. Because he has a plan, he’ll probably make what, three, four times the money you made this year, next year, right? Is what it sounds like. Shit. Make more money and keep it simple. So my rules around this or how not to get ahead of yourself is if it’s about money and you have a way to make more money and you feel good about it, even if it’s on your own, make more money. And so this one’s simple for me and don’t get ahead of yourself. Keep it simple. Keep it simple is just like, look, he does more of this because he’s probably getting referrals and you know, puts up a website or whatever he needs to do to grow it because he has a plan in his head for that. He should do that first and not get ahead of himself and try to think through, oh, how do I scale this or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Small is okay in the beginning. Small is okay, year one, year two, year three. Like small is okay, period. But he will have capital and a better buffer when he does decide if he does decide to scale it with more consultants and whatnot if he just waits. And he’ll probably even learn more about the business. He’ll probably figure out how to do a little more marketing or figure out how to get clients or figure out a more systematic way to scale is time, blah, blah, blah. There’s probably a bunch of things he’ll figure out that if he just jumped into trying to scale it, he would have to figure out while he’s scaling it. So if I want to get really practical and say, okay, this isn’t just about your friend and his consulting business, let’s say it’s about anybody and how if something’s working, how not to get ahead of yourself, what I would think through is like what are the assumptions you’re making about the different ideas you have on how to grow the thing and how can you be smart about those assumptions and make sure that you’re able to address them in a timely manner and you also are going into it with a really good understanding of what you know is important and what you might need to address. So for example, if you start scaling it and try to get more consultants, there are a number of issues you would have to address in this business. Number one, more people, more problems, you know, like that’s one of my things, Steli, and I think I’ve probably infected you with that to some extent, but maybe not because you guys are hiring and stuff. I’m not. Anyway, so you know, he might not be realized that like when he has more people, if he tries to get consultants, well one, he does make less money per hour of work and not just his but like those consultants and is he going to be able to take a cut of their work? Right? Or how does that all set up? How is he going to find those people? How is he going to manage those people? How’s he going to make sure that people are motivated and stay with him instead of come off on their own? Right? There’s a bunch of components of this that probably get really complicated. And I like to think through the positive of like how do I make this work? But when I think about how do I make this work, I think about the considerations that are required to make it work. So for him to scale with more consultants, what are those considerations and how can you be very honest with himself about them? So I would just write those out and I would say that, okay, these consultants need to work with me in my firm. These consultants need to be willing to give up something, a hourly rate or some percentage of it or something in order for me to get the benefit from it, right? These consultants, I need to be able to find them. Right? So these are what I would call considerations and I would just think through what are the considerations that would make what you’re looking to do work. And are you ready for that? And if his goal and path is heading towards that, what I would do is I would continue on the path that he’s on where he can scale what he has and at the same time start understanding more about those considerations if he’s really honestly considering scaling it beyond himself.



Steli Efti: Absolutely love it. Here is the thing I want to wrap this episode up, which goes back to like how not to get ahead of yourself. There was a moment in the conversation where he in his mind had already lived through 2019.



Hiten Shah : Yep.



Steli Efti: It was already 2020 and now he had reached the maximum of what the business could do. And he was solving the problem of mid 2020 like, oh well that doesn’t scale, so I need to hire more people and do this, that and that and preempt it. And it was telling him, dude.



Hiten Shah : Common.



Steli Efti: Right, how not to get ahead of yourself. But I’m like, dude, I can think through what it would take and feel like and how long it would take me to climb Mount Everest. But I have not done it yet and just because I’m thinking it through, I cannot then just pretend I’m the same as somebody that has done it and now I’m solving for what do I do after Mount Everest. Like just relax, go and make it happen and then solve the problems that are in front of you versus you know, running wild with your imagination and now solving today the problems that you think you might have in two years. Right? And this is the perfect way, the way that you summarize it on like how not to get ahead of yourself and fuck up your money or your health or your sanity or your business, right? Just one problem at a time and you summarized it beautifully where you can think ahead, right, that’s not a bad thing to think ahead and to prepare for what you think is around the corner and you know, to start thinking, well, if eventually I hit the ceiling, what would I do then? And how can I? What can I use? How can I use the time between now and then to prepare for that? Right? To run some of these assumptions, to learn more about some of the things that I’m going to have to learn so that by the time I hit it, I’m prepared to deal with those challenges, right, and it doesn’t catch me off guard. But thinking through and thinking ahead a little bit is different from acting ahead and getting ahead of yourself and pretending all these things have already happened and now you’re solving problems that have never come up and you are also operating as if. Like sometimes founders or entrepreneurs or like just beautifully insane in the way they think through things where they’re like, well, I know I could make millions with this, but, you know, and I’m really broke right now and I need money. But at the same time I’m not that passionate and I think that I’m don’t want to do this for the next 40 years of my life. So I’m thinking about something. It’s like, dude, you saying, I know I could make a lot of money is not the same as you’ve already made that money. Right? So, and a lot of people think they could do things, but, very few people do them. Right? So why don’t you go and do it and then come up with what to do next versus just go, I have the self confidence I could be doing this. So it reminds me of, I have a niece that’s twelve, so an Instagram post of hers that shocked me although it amused me as well where basically it was just a picture of herself being 12 and below that the caption was knowing that I could is enough for me. Right? It’s basically like ,I don’t have to actually do the shit I know I could if I really want to do. And I’m like, you know, yeah, knowing that you could and doing it is actually those are worlds apart. Those are not the same things. So it reminded me of this area. I know I could make a ton of money with us, but you know, what will I do afterwards? Like, well go ahead and do it then, Make a ton of money. Prove that you can, and then figure out what you’re going to do next. All right. How not to get ahead of yourself, I love it. Thank you for the title and the angle. I knew you’d come through as you do always. If anything that we said in this episode made you uncomfortable as a listener, you might have to double click on this and think about it more or listen to this episode again. If you know somebody that shouldn’t listen to this episode, share it with them. We all have friends that might get a little bit ahead of themselves. And as always, if you’ve not done it yet, go and give us a five star review on iTunes. We highly appreciate it. That’s it from us. See you very soon.



Hiten Shah : See ya.