More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
22 days ago
How To Launch A Business Without Any Risk
> Say Hello To The Lean-Hedge Model
People think starting a business requires significant debt and investment. Like Shark Tank, you need a world-changing idea. I'm not saying to avoid investors or brilliant ideas.
Investing is essential to build a genuinely profitable company. Think Apple or Starbucks.
Entrepreneurship is risky because many people go bankrupt from debt. As starters, we shouldn't do it. Instead, use lean-hedge.
Simply defined, you construct a cash-flow business to hedge against long-term investment-heavy business expenses.
What the “fx!$rench-toast” is the lean-hedge model?
When you start a business, your money should move down, down, down, then up when it becomes profitable.
Many people don't survive the business's initial losses and debt. What if, we created a cash-flow business BEFORE we started our Starbucks to hedge against its initial expenses?
Lean-hedge has two sections. Start a cash-flow business. A cash-flow business takes minimal investment and usually involves sweat and time.
Let’s take a look at some examples:
A Translation company
Personal portfolio website (you make a site then you do cold e-mail marketing)
FREELANCE (UpWork, Fiverr).
Infomarketing. (You design a knowledge-based product. You sell the info).
Online fitness/diet/health coaching ($50-$300/month, calls, training plan)
Amazon e-book publishing. (Medium writers do this)
YouTube, cash-flow channel
A web development agency (I'm a dev, but if you're not, a graphic design agency, etc.) (Sell your time.)
Online paralegal (A million lawyers work in the U.S).
Some dropshipping (Organic Tik Tok dropshipping, where you create content to drive traffic to your shopify store instead of spend money on ads).
(Disclaimer: My first two cash-flow enterprises, which were language teaching, failed terribly. My translation firm is now booming because B2B e-mail marketing is easy.)
Crossover occurs. Your long-term business starts earning more money than your cash flow business.
My cash-flow business (freelancing, translation) makes $7k+/month.
I’ve decided to start a slightly more investment-heavy digital marketing agency
Here are the anticipated business's time- and money-intensive investments:
($$$) Top Front-End designer's Figma/UI-UX design (in negotiation)
(Time): A little copywriting (I will do this myself)
($$) Creating an animated webpage with HTML (in negotiation)
Backend Development (Duration) (I'll carry out this myself using Laravel.)
Logo Design ($$)
Logo Intro Video for $
Video Intro (I’ll edit this myself with Premiere Pro)
Then evaluate product, place, price, and promotion. Consider promotion and pricing.
The lean-hedge model's point is:
Don't gamble. Avoid debt. First create a cash-flow project, then grow it steadily.
Check read my previous posts on “Nightmare Mode” (which teaches you how to make work as interesting as video games) and Why most people can't escape a 9-5 to learn how to develop a cash-flow business.
2 months ago
10 Crazy Useful Free Websites No One Told You About But You Needed
The internet is a massive information resource. With so much stuff, it's easy to forget about useful websites. Here are five essential websites you may not have known about.
Companies.tools are what successful startups employ. This website offers a curated selection of design, research, coding, support, and feedback resources. Ct has the latest app development platform and greatest client feedback method.
2. Excel Formula Bot
Excel Formula Bot can help if you forget a formula. Formula Bot uses AI to convert text instructions into Excel formulas, so you don't have to remember them.
Just tell the Bot what to do, and it will do it. Excel Formula Bot can calculate sales tax and vacation days. When you're stuck, let the Bot help.
TypeLit helps you improve your typing abilities while reading great literature.
TypeLit.io lets you type any book or dozens of preset classics. TypeLit provides real-time feedback on accuracy and speed.
Goals and progress can be tracked. Why not improve your typing and learn great literature with TypeLit?
4. Calm Schedule
Finding a meeting time that works for everyone is difficult. Personal and business calendars might be difficult to coordinate.
Synchronize your two calendars to save time and avoid problems. You may avoid searching through many calendars for conflicts and keep your personal information secret. Having one source of truth for personal and work occasions will help you never miss another appointment.
myNoise makes the outside world quieter. myNoise is the right noise for a noisy office or busy street.
If you can't locate the right noise, make it. MyNoise unlocks the world. Shut out distractions. Thank your ears.
Professional videos require directors, filmmakers, editors, and animators. Now, thanks to AI, you can generate high-quality videos without video editing experience.
AI avatars are crucial. You can design a personalized avatar using a web-based software like synthesia.io. Our avatars can lip-sync in over 60 languages, so you can make worldwide videos. There's an AI avatar for every video goal.
Not free. Amazing service, though.
Have you shot a wonderful photo just to notice something in the background? You may have a beautiful headshot but wish to erase an imperfection.
Cleanup.pictures removes undesirable objects from photos. Our algorithms will eliminate the selected object.
Cleanup.pictures can help you obtain the ideal shot every time. Next time you take images, let Cleanup.pictures fix any flaws.
8. PDF24 Tools
Editing a PDF can be a pain. Most of us don't know Adobe Acrobat's functionalities. Why buy something you'll rarely use? Better options exist.
PDF24 is an online PDF editor that's free and subscription-free. Rotate, merge, split, compress, and convert PDFs in your browser. PDF24 makes document signing easy.
Upload your document, sign it (or generate a digital signature), and download it. It's easy and free. PDF24 is a free alternative to pricey PDF editing software.
9. Class Central
Finding online classes is much easier. Class Central has classes from Harvard, Stanford, Coursera, Udemy, and Google, Amazon, etc. in one spot.
Whether you want to acquire a new skill or increase your knowledge, you'll find something. New courses bring variety.
Foreign travel offers countless transport alternatives. How do you get from A to B? It’s easy!
Rome2rio will show you the best method to get there, including which mode of transport is ideal.
Do you know any free, useful websites?
4 months ago
A simple go-to-market formula
“Poor distribution, not poor goods, is the main reason for failure” — Peter Thiel.
Here's an easy way to conceptualize "go-to-market" for your distribution plan.
One equation captures the concept:
Distribution = Ecosystem Participants + Incentives
Draw your customers' ecosystem. Set aside your goods and consider your consumer's environment. Who do they deal with daily?
First, list each participant. You want an exhaustive list, but here are some broad categories.
In-person media services
Financial education and banking
Draw influence arrows. Who's affected? I'm not just talking about Instagram selfie-posters. Who has access to your consumer and could promote your product if motivated?
The thicker the arrow, the stronger the relationship. Include more "influencers" if needed. Customer ecosystems are complex.
3. Incentivize ecosystem players. “Show me the incentive and I will show you the result.“, says Warren Buffet's business partner Charlie Munger.
Strong distribution strategies encourage others to promote your product to your target market by incentivizing the most prominent players. Incentives can be financial or non-financial.
Usually, there's money. If you pay Facebook, they'll run your ad. Salespeople close deals for commission. Giving customers bonus credits will encourage referrals.
Most businesses underuse non-financial incentives.
Motivate key influencers without spending money to expand quickly and cheaply. What can you give a client-connector for free?
Here are some ideas:
Are there any other features or services available?
Titles or status? Tinder paid college "ambassadors" for parties to promote its dating service.
Can I get early/free access? Facebook gave a select group of developers "exclusive" early access to their AR platform.
Are you a good host? Pharell performed at YPlan's New York launch party.
Distribution? Apple's iPod earphones are white so others can see them.
Have an interesting story? PR rewards journalists by giving them a compelling story to boost page views.
More time spent on distribution means more room in your product design and business plan. Once you've identified the key players in your customer's ecosystem, talk to them.
Money isn't your only resource. Creative non-monetary incentives may be more effective and scalable. Give people something useful and easy to deliver.
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2 months ago
300 Signups, 1 Landing Page, 0 Products
I placed a link on HackerNews and got 300 signups in a week. This post explains what happened.
The product is DbSchemaLibrary. A library of Database Schema.
I'm not sure where this idea originated from. Very fast. Build fast, fail fast, test many ideas, and one will be a hit. I tried it. Let's try it anyway, even though it'll probably fail. I finished The Lean Startup book and wanted to use it.
Database job bores me. Important! I get drowsy working on it. Someone must do it. I remember this happening once. I needed examples at the time. Something similar to Recall (my other project) that I can copy — or at least use as a reference.
Frequently googled. Many tabs open. The results were useless. I raised my hand and agreed to construct the database myself.
It resurfaced. I decided to do something.
Lean Startup emphasizes validated learning. Everything the startup does should result in learning. I may build something nobody wants otherwise. That's what happened to Recall.
So, I wrote a business plan document. This happens before I code. What am I solving? What is my proposed solution? What is the leap of faith between the problem and solution? Who would be my target audience?
In my previous project, I did the opposite!
I wrote my expectations after reading the book's advice.
“Failure is a prerequisite to learning. The problem with the notion of shipping a product and then seeing what happens is that you are guaranteed to succeed — at seeing what happens.” — The Lean Startup book
These are successful metrics. If I don't reach them, I'll drop the idea and try another. I didn't understand numbers then. Below are guesses. But it’s a start!
I then wrote the project's What and Why. I'll use this everywhere. Before, I wrote a different pitch each time. I thought certain words would be better. I felt the audience might want something unusual.
Occasionally, this works. I'm unsure if it's a good idea. No stats, just my writing-time opinion. Writing every time is time-consuming and sometimes hazardous. Having a copy saved me duplication.
I can measure and learn from performance.
Last, I identified communities that might demand the product. This became an exercise in creativity.
So now it’s time to build.
A MVP can test my assumptions. Business may learn from it. Not low-quality. We should learn from the tiniest thing.
I like the example of how Dropbox did theirs. They assumed that if the product works, people will utilize it. How can this be tested without a quality product? They made a movie demonstrating the software's functionality. Who knows how much functionality existed?
So I tested my biggest assumption. Users want schema references. How can I test if users want to reference another schema? I'd love this. Recall taught me that wanting something doesn't mean others do.
I made an email-collection landing page. Describe it briefly. Reference library. Each email sender wants a reference. They're interested in the product. Few other reasons exist.
Header and footer were skipped. No name or logo. DbSchemaLibrary is a name I thought of after the fact. 5-minute logo. I expected a flop. Recall has no users after months of labor. What could happen to a 2-day project?
I didn't compromise learning validation. How many visitors sign up? To draw a conclusion, I must track these results.
Now that the job is done, gauge interest. The next morning, I posted on all my channels. I didn't want to be spammy, therefore it required more time.
I made sure each channel had at least one fan of this product. I also answer people's inquiries in the channel.
My list stinks. Several channels wouldn't work. The product's target market isn't there. Posting there would waste our time. This taught me to create marketing channels depending on my persona.
Statistics! What actually happened
My favorite part! 23 channels received the link.
I stopped posting to Discord despite its high conversion rate. I eliminated some channels because they didn't fit. According to the numbers, some users like it. Most users think it's spam.
I was skeptical. And 12 people viewed it.
I didn't expect much attention on a startup subreddit. I'll likely examine Reddit further in the future. As I have enough info, I didn't post much. Time for the next validated learning
No comment. The post had few views, therefore the numbers are low.
The targeted people come next.
I'm a Toptal freelancer. There's a member-only Slack channel. Most people can't use this marketing channel, but you should! It's not as spectacular as discord's 27% conversion rate. But I think the users here are better.
I don’t really have a following anywhere so this isn’t something I can leverage.
The best yet. 10% is converted. With more data, I expect to attain a 10% conversion rate from other channels. Stable number.
This number required some work. Did you know that people use many different clients to read HN?
Untrackable views and signups abound. 1136 views and 135 signups are untraceable. It's 11%. I bet much of that came from Hackernews.
The 7-day signup-to-visit ratio was 17%. (Hourly data points)
First-day percentages were lower, which is noteworthy. Initially, it was little above 10%. The HN post started getting views then.
When traffic drops, the number reaches just around 20%. More individuals are interested in the connection. hn.algolia.com sent 2 visitors. This means people are searching and finding my post.
1. HN post struggled till the US woke up.
11am UTC. After an hour, it lost popularity. It seemed over. 7 signups converted 13%. Not amazing, but I would've thought ahead.
After 4pm UTC, traffic grew again. 4pm UTC is 9am PDT. US awakened. 10am PDT saw 512 views.
2. The product was highlighted in a newsletter.
I found Revue references when gathering data. Newsletter platform. Someone posted the newsletter link. 37 views and 3 registrations.
3. HN numbers are extremely reliable
I don't have a time-lapse graph (yet). The statistics were constant all day.
2717 views later 272 new users, or 10.1%
With 293 signups at 2856 views, 10.25%
At 306 signups at 2965 views, 10.32%
1. My initial estimations were wildly inaccurate
I wrote 30% conversion. Reading some articles, looks like 10% is a good number to aim for.
2. Paying attention to what matters rather than vain metrics
The Lean Startup discourages vanity metrics. Feel-good metrics that don't measure growth or traction. Considering the proportion instead of the total visitors made me realize there was something here.
There are lots of work to do. Data aggregation, display, website development, marketing, legal issues. Fun! It's satisfying to solve an issue rather than investigate its cause.
In the meantime, I’ve already written the first project update in another post. Continue reading it if you’d like to know more about the project itself! Shifting from Quantity to Quality — DbSchemaLibrary
6 months ago
The latest “bubble indicator” readings.
As you know, I like to turn my intuition into decision rules (principles) that can be back-tested and automated to create a portfolio of alpha bets. I use one for bubbles. Having seen many bubbles in my 50+ years of investing, I described what makes a bubble and how to identify them in markets—not just stocks.
A bubble market has a high degree of the following:
- High prices compared to traditional values (e.g., by taking the present value of their cash flows for the duration of the asset and comparing it with their interest rates).
- Conditons incompatible with long-term growth (e.g., extrapolating past revenue and earnings growth rates late in the cycle).
- Many new and inexperienced buyers were drawn in by the perceived hot market.
- Broad bullish sentiment.
- Debt financing a large portion of purchases.
- Lots of forward and speculative purchases to profit from price rises (e.g., inventories that are more than needed, contracted forward purchases, etc.).
I use these criteria to assess all markets for bubbles. I have periodically shown you these for stocks and the stock market.
What Was Shown in January Versus Now
I will first describe the picture in words, then show it in charts, and compare it to the last update in January.
As of January, the bubble indicator showed that a) the US equity market was in a moderate bubble, but not an extreme one (ie., 70 percent of way toward the highest bubble, which occurred in the late 1990s and late 1920s), and b) the emerging tech companies (ie. As well, the unprecedented flood of liquidity post-COVID financed other bubbly behavior (e.g. SPACs, IPO boom, big pickup in options activity), making things bubbly. I showed which stocks were in bubbles and created an index of those stocks, which I call “bubble stocks.”
Those bubble stocks have popped. They fell by a third last year, while the S&P 500 remained flat. In light of these and other market developments, it is not necessarily true that now is a good time to buy emerging tech stocks.
The fact that they aren't at a bubble extreme doesn't mean they are safe or that it's a good time to get long. Our metrics still show that US stocks are overvalued. Once popped, bubbles tend to overcorrect to the downside rather than settle at “normal” prices.
The following charts paint the picture. The first shows the US equity market bubble gauge/indicator going back to 1900, currently at the 40% percentile. The charts also zoom in on the gauge in recent years, as well as the late 1920s and late 1990s bubbles (during both of these cases the gauge reached 100 percent ).
The chart below depicts the average bubble gauge for the most bubbly companies in 2020. Those readings are down significantly.
The charts below compare the performance of a basket of emerging tech bubble stocks to the S&P 500. Prices have fallen noticeably, giving up most of their post-COVID gains.
The following charts show the price action of the bubble slice today and in the 1920s and 1990s. These charts show the same market dynamics and two key indicators. These are just two examples of how a lot of debt financing stock ownership coupled with a tightening typically leads to a bubble popping.
Everything driving the bubbles in this market segment is classic—the same drivers that drove the 1920s bubble and the 1990s bubble. For instance, in the last couple months, it was how tightening can act to prick the bubble. Review this case study of the 1920s stock bubble (starting on page 49) from my book Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crises to grasp these dynamics.
The following charts show the components of the US stock market bubble gauge. Since this is a proprietary indicator, I will only show you some of the sub-aggregate readings and some indicators.
Each of these six influences is measured using a number of stats. This is how I approach the stock market. These gauges are combined into aggregate indices by security and then for the market as a whole. The table below shows the current readings of these US equity market indicators. It compares current conditions for US equities to historical conditions. These readings suggest that we’re out of a bubble.
1. How High Are Prices Relatively?
This price gauge for US equities is currently around the 50th percentile.
2. Is price reduction unsustainable?
This measure calculates the earnings growth rate required to outperform bonds. This is calculated by adding up the readings of individual securities. This indicator is currently near the 60th percentile for the overall market, higher than some of our other readings. Profit growth discounted in stocks remains high.
Even more so in the US software sector. Analysts' earnings growth expectations for this sector have slowed, but remain high historically. P/Es have reversed COVID gains but remain high historical.
3. How many new buyers (i.e., non-existing buyers) entered the market?
Expansion of new entrants is often indicative of a bubble. According to historical accounts, this was true in the 1990s equity bubble and the 1929 bubble (though our data for this and other gauges doesn't go back that far). A flood of new retail investors into popular stocks, which by other measures appeared to be in a bubble, pushed this gauge above the 90% mark in 2020. The pace of retail activity in the markets has recently slowed to pre-COVID levels.
4. How Broadly Bullish Is Sentiment?
The more people who have invested, the less resources they have to keep investing, and the more likely they are to sell. Market sentiment is now significantly negative.
5. Are Purchases Being Financed by High Leverage?
Leveraged purchases weaken the buying foundation and expose it to forced selling in a downturn. The leverage gauge, which considers option positions as a form of leverage, is now around the 50% mark.
6. To What Extent Have Buyers Made Exceptionally Extended Forward Purchases?
Looking at future purchases can help assess whether expectations have become overly optimistic. This indicator is particularly useful in commodity and real estate markets, where forward purchases are most obvious. In the equity markets, I look at indicators like capital expenditure, or how much businesses (and governments) invest in infrastructure, factories, etc. It reflects whether businesses are projecting future demand growth. Like other gauges, this one is at the 40th percentile.
What one does with it is a tactical choice. While the reversal has been significant, future earnings discounting remains high historically. In either case, bubbles tend to overcorrect (sell off more than the fundamentals suggest) rather than simply deflate. But I wanted to share these updated readings with you in light of recent market activity.
4 months ago
11 Cooking Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier
Quick, easy and tasty (and dollops of parenting around food).
My wife and mom are both great mothers. They're super-efficient planners. They soak and ferment food. My 104-year-old grandfather loved fermented foods.
When I'm hungry and need something fast, I waffle to the pantry. Like most people, I like to improvise. I wish I knew these 11 hacks sooner.
1. The world's best pasta sauce only has 3 ingredients.
You watch recipe videos with prepped ingredients. In reality, prepping and washing take time. The food's taste isn't guaranteed. The raw truth at a sublime level is not talked about often.
Sometimes a radical recipe comes along that's so easy and tasty, you're dumbfounded. The Classic Italian Cook Book has a pasta recipe.
One 28-ounce can of whole, peeled tomatoes, one medium peeled onion, and 5 tablespoons of butter. And salt to taste.
Combine everything in a single pot and simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered. Stir occasionally. Toss the onion halves after 45 minutes and pour the sauce over pasta. Finish!
This simple recipe fights our deepest fears.
Salt to taste! Customized to perfection, no frills.
2. Reheating rice with ice. Magical.
Most of the world eats rice. I was raised in south India. My grandfather farmed rice in the Cauvery river delta.
The problem with rice With growing kids, you can't cook just enough. Leftovers are a norm. Microwaves help most people. Ice cubes are the frosting.
Before reheating rice in the microwave, add an ice cube. The ice will steam the rice, making it fluffy and delicious again.
3. Pineapple leaf
if it comes off easy, it is ripe enough to cut. No rethinking.
My daughter loves pineapples like her dad. One daddy task is cutting them. Sharing immediate results is therapeutic.
Timing the cut has been the most annoying part over the years. The pineapple leaf tip reveals the fruitiness inside. Always loved it.
4. Magic knife words (rolling and curling)
Cutting hand: Roll the blade's back, not its tip, to cut.
Other hand: If you can’t see your finger tips, you can’t cut them. So curl your fingers.
I dislike that schools don't teach financial literacy or cutting skills.
My wife and I used scissors differently for 25 years. We both used the thumb. My index finger, her middle. We googled the difference when I noticed it and laughed. She's right.
This video teaches knifing skills:
5. Best advice about heat
If it's done in the pan, it's overdone on the plate.
This simple advice stands out when we worry about ingredients and proportions.
6. The truth about pasta water
Pasta water should be sea-salty.
Properly seasoning food separates good from great. Salt depends is a good line.
Want delicious pasta? Well, then kind of a lot, to be perfectly honest.
7. Clean as you go
Clean blender as you go by blending water and dish soap.
I find clean as you go easier than clean afterwords. This easy tip is gold.
8. Clean as you go (bis)
Microwave a bowl of water, vinegar, and a toothpick for 5 minutes.
2 cups water, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and a toothpick to prevent overflow.
5-minute microwave. Let the steam work for another 2 minutes. Sponge-off dirt and food. Simple.
9 and 10. Tools,tools, tools
Immersion blender and pressure cooker save time and money.
Narrative: I experienced fatherly pride. My middle-schooler loves science. We discussed boiling. I spoke. Water doesn't need 100°C to boil. She looked confused. 100 degrees assume something. The world around the water is a normal room. Changing water pressure affects its boiling point. This saves energy. Pressure cooker magic.
I captivated her. She's into science and sustainable living.
Whistling is a subliminal form of self-expression when done right. Pressure cookers remind me of simple pleasures.
Your handiness depends on your home tools. Immersion blenders are great for pre- and post-cooking. It eliminates chopping and washing. Second to the dishwasher, in my opinion.
11. One pepper is plenty
A story I share with my daughters.
Once, everyone thought about spice (not spicy). More valuable than silk. One of the three mighty oceans was named after a source country. Columbus sailed the wrong way and found America. The explorer called the natives after reaching his spice destination.
It was pre-internet days. His Google wasn't working.
My younger daughter listens in awe. Strong roots. Image cast. She can contextualize one of the ocean names.
I struggle with spices in daily life. Combinations are mind-boggling. I have more spices than Columbus. Flavor explosion has repercussions. You must closely follow the recipe without guarantees. Best aha. Double down on one spice and move on. If you like it, it's great.
I naturally gravitate towards cumin soups, fennel dishes, mint rice, oregano pasta, basil thai curry and cardamom pudding.
Variety enhances life. Each of my dishes is unique.
To each their own comfort food and nostalgic memories.