5 Key Lessons from The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris

The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris: Book Summary

Along with The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss and The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau, The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris of WP Curve is one of the 3 key books that defines the business philosophy and strategies of the Lifestyle Entrepreneur.

The key message from this book is that “You don’t learn until you launch”. The sooner you launch your business, the sooner you can improve it. Don’t spend months or years on planning when you can get your product out to market in days.

All your assumptions about your business will be wrong, so focus less time on assuming (planning and testing) and more time on shipping (getting your product into the hands of a paying customer).

If you want to get more out of the themes, ideas and lessons from the 7 Day Startup, I recommend taking my premium 7 Day Startup course here.

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#1 The Entrepreneur vs The Wantrepreneur

Here are two different ways you can choose to spend your time.

You see, you don’t get to become an entrepreneur simply by owning a business. You get to be an entrepreneur by making things happen, and that means choosing to spend your time effectively.

An entrepreneur will focus on activities that bring customers:

  • talking to customers
  • making partnerships
  • shipping the product

A wantrepreneur will focus on the activities that are comfortable:

  • designing a logo or updating the website
  • choosing a business name
  • hiring, finding offices, lawyers, accountants
  • perfecting the code

#2 Nothing happens until you ship

If you want to be successful, you need to focus all your energy on shipping.

Shipping means getting your product into the hands of a paying customer. Until that point, you have nothing. You don’t exist.

Why a paying customer?

Well, paying for your product (even if that’s $1) is the moment of truth. Steve Jobs was often quoted as saying, “customers don’t know what they want.” The reality is that “customers don’t know what they want… until they open their wallets.”

Asking people if they are interested in your product is a wantrepreneurial activity. It’s skirting around the issue. Everybody’s interested in owning a Ferrari, but how many actually do? Payment quantifies their interest. It’s either a “yes” or a “no”.

#3 Idea, Execution, Hustle

Being successful in business is like asking someone out on a date.

You can work out, wear your best clothes, practise your swag, but you still gotta ask.

If you can’t ask the girl/boy out, you don’t get the date. If you can’t ask for business, you’ll never make money.

The Hustle. That’s the hard part. It’s uncomfortable.

Hustle is what makes you a successful entrepreneur. Your ability to ask. You’re not always asking for a sale but you’re heading that way. You’re building relationships, building partnership and priming prospects to eventually buy from you. You never avoid or hide the idea that this is a business and you’re here to make money.

#4 Launch first, launch fast

Shipping means getting your product into the hands of a paying customer within days, not weeks or months.

If you’re taking weeks or months to launch your business, you’re taking too long. By that stage, all of your assumptions about what customers want or how they will behave will be wrong anyway.

It’s much better to launch a very basic version of your product (called a Minimum Viable Product or MVP) and then gauge interest, rather than wait for weeks to perfect the product before launching it to the market.

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Even if your MVP is simpler and cheaper than your “ideal product”, it’s better to launch now. Start with one feature that you can charge money for and work from there. If you can’t sell a cheaper, simpler version of your idea, you have both identified something is wrong and saved yourself weeks or months of time and money in going down the wrong avenue of inquiry.

Done is better than perfect. It doesn’t have to be a wise decision, or a perfect one. Just make one. If you’re waiting for perfect, you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life.

Face your fears and launch. The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.

#5 It’s not About Ideas, it’s About Making Ideas Happen

It’s not about ideas it’s about making ideas happen.

We spend far too much time on ideas.

Ideas take you so far, but if you want to Escape the Cubicle you have to spend less time on ideas and more time on hustle.

It’s like asking a girl or a guy out on date. Ideas are the preparation. Hustle is the ask. You can’t avoid it. Some people spend months or even years tiptoeing around the issue but getting nowhere. Some people are just good at asking.

Ideas are comfortable, but they can also be show-stoppers. You can spend a long time working on an idea, but the moment you put that idea out into the wild, everything changes. In military circles they say, “no plan ever survives the enemy.” The same is true in business. No plan ever survives the customer.

Everything you assume about your customer and your idea will be wrong the moment you ask for the money. That’s why there’s a big difference between an idea and a successful business. And that’s also why you should spend as little time as possible on the ideas and the most on execution and hustle.

Successful entrepreneurs focus on the activities that bring customers, like hustling for business. By contrast, Wantrepreneurs focus on the activities that are comfortable, like ideas.

In his book “Anything You Want”, Derek Sivers refers to ideas as being “only multipliers”. Consider this table for example:

Bad Idea: $1
Good Idea: $100
Excellent Idea: $100

Bad Execution: $0
Good Execution: $100,000
Excellent Execution: $1,000,000

So, let’s put this together.

You have a good idea and bad execution. Your business is worth $0
You have a bad idea and excellent execution. Your business is worth $1,000,000

Where should you be spending your time?

The myth of the genius idea
Legend has it that the Empress of China discovered silk by accident. She dropped a silk worm into her hot tea. Removing the husk, she noticed how it unraveled slowly as a long, flexible fiber strand.

It’s a classic story that repeats in our culture.

It could be the shaggy-haired Einstein or Doc from Back to the Future. It could be the Mark Zuckerberg teen-in-the-hoodie. The media lionizes the genius inventor.

The reality is often very different. Silk farmers were around long before the Empress of China, but it doesn’t make a good story to tell your grand children.

So, what’s that got to do with being a successful entrepreneur?


You see, we’ve grown up being told that ideas and inventions have a special place in society. We put ideas and their inventors on pedestals.

In business, too, the reality is very different. Sure, you need an idea to get started, but the difference between success and failure has little to do with idea. It’s all about making ideas happen.

There are no bad ideas, so get over yours
If you want to be successful, don’t get stuck on the idea. That means thinking of a company slogan, designing a logo, a domain name or your product. All of this is a sideshow to the main event – launching.

In the book, “What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20”, Tina Seeling describes a task she sets her entrepreneur course students at Stanford University. She asks them to list up the worst possible ideas for a business. Some examples include:

* A heart-attack museum
* Cockroach sushi

Take cockroach sushi, for example. You’re probably thinking “WTF?”

But, what Seelig does is say to the students that they have to now take that idea and turn it into a successful business. The results are revealing. In almost all cases, students overcome the bad idea and turn it to their advantage. Cockroach sushi isn’t for everyone but it’s a great talking point. Cockroach sushi becomes an experience for the adventurous. It’s bragging rites. It’s content to share on Instagram and Snapchat. Cockroach sushi, when pushed, becomes a potential business.

The point is this. There are no bad ideas, so get over yours.

Stop worrying about perfect.

Stop worrying about the right time.

It’s much better to start with a half-baked idea and work from there, because everything you assume about your idea will change anyway.

As Einstein once said, “it’s much easier to steer a moving bicycle.”

To many entrepreneurs get lost on the theory stage of learning how to ride a bike from the text book. The only way to learn is get on the saddle and crash a few times.

How to Build Your Lifestyle Business in Just 7 Days

course-splashes.005-1-1024x576 5 Key Lessons from The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris lifestyle entrepreneur grahamdbrown

Based on advice from the bestseller The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris

"Got a business idea? The 7 Day Startup by Dan Norris will take you from wantrepreneur to entrepreneur."
- Nathan Chan, CEO Foundr Magazine