Why Launch Energy Is Wasted Energy

I like starting things. And I like finishing them.

But, to me, there’s nothing more tedious than the early stages of building a platform. The “plumbing” I’ve done it about 5 times, and then I’ve “redone” existing platforms another 15 or so times. Each time I do it I’m better at it, but not faster.

Because it’s lonely work. And the details matter.

To set up my new brand, Atom City Labs, I had to:

  • Find a CRM (I used Agile CRM)
  • Build a content strategy (I used Meera Kothand’s)
  • Build a distribution strategy
  • Find a hosting provider (I used Very Fast Host)
  • Find some way to get design done (Canva, this round)
  • Find a theme engine (Thrive Themes over Beaver builder by a nose).
  • Set up a lead magnet.
  • Set up some auto responders
  • Set up analytics
  • Set up a facebook pixel.
  • Set up DKIM / SPF stuff on my domain.
  • Set up some bank accounts
  • Switch bank accounts (Hapo)
  • Set up an accounting system. (TBD: Thinking seriously about going with WAVE).
  • Set up a payment processor (Stripe)
  • Find a signature repository (I used Adobe Sign, FKA EchoSign)
  • Write proposals
  • Get insurance coverage (personal umb
  • Write an About Page, a privacy policy.
  • Some contact forms.
  • Landing pages.
  • Incorporate, get a TIN, get local permits.

The list goes on. Some of that stuff had to “validate” with my domain. Some stuff took a third party’s approval. Like the state of Washington. Other stuff costs money. All of it cost time. It’s a load that a solo entrepreneur pays disproportionately.

All of this work is backfill. It’s a precondition to really earning money. It’s an ante, and it’s a risked bit of time that…if my idea a fails I’ll never get back.

And I want to tell you: it’s agonizing. It’s horrifically tedious work to do because I know how to do it all. I’ve done it before. You can’t really save a lot of time or money by outsourcing it, you just have to slog on.

For me, it takes 3 times more energy to do this type of work than it does to run something. It’s the launch energy that must be done. It’s not serving a client, it’s simply building the systems that serve the business that serves clients.

I’d estimate that it takes 20-30 hours once you know what you’re doing to do this type of work. Half a week’s efforts.

Delegating to an attorney takes about the same time, it’ll be done wrong and cost $1k.

As I’m launching my new company I have had to do this twice. I launched under the auspices of a different entity and shuttered that because (after testing) I learned that my clients needed a product to be in place as a precondition to me being able to serve them. And I had to sell THAT first because without follow up or systems the whole thing would be likely to fail.

So I had to duplicate a fair bit of this work (and pay another $50 to the state of Washington to change my LLC’s name).

Then, in a few months, this same ‘ante’ can be paid if I decide to pivot.

A lot of it is unnecessary, a distraction. A way of seeming busy, and stuff that you can justify that isn’t one of the core activities of a business. (Prospecting, presenting, negotiating, closing and delivering).

Then, this sort of thing happens again.

At Simplifilm, I changed a perfectly “fine” logo. It was a logo built in 2012 and it had a little bit of that era’s “apple” look.

Well, the number of forms, places on our website, the video reveals and the rest made that work take a lot longer than I imagined. And we kept having “both” logos displayed for a long time. For what gain?

No gain.

For me, this type of work is agony. And yet I retreat to it because it’s a version of Bikeshedding.

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Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is writing this blog. He's a startup veteran, having built a company called Simplifilm. This blog is about things that he's starting to - but may not actually - think yet. It publishes irregularly.
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