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Less Annoying Business: Good discomfort

published3 months ago
3 min read

Hey Reader,

Tyler from Less Annoying Business here. Here's what's new:

New content

The importance of patience and impatience when hiring [Podcast]
We talk about how both patience and impatience are important when hiring, how to learn new things, and more.

Putting together a growth plan [Podcast]
Rick helps me think through a new growth plan for Less Annoying CRM.

Note: This is my second month without a blog post. I've been working on things that are very specific to Less Annoying CRM and our product, so I haven't had a ton of generalizable ideas that I think would be relevant to others. Question for you: Do you care? Are you reading this newsletter primarily to see new posts, or for other reasons (e.g. to read the sections below)? I'm torn on whether or not I should force myself to write at least one post each month.

What I'm working on

If you've read my last couple of newsletters, you know that I've been focusing on design lately. Don't worry, this update won't really be about that. But in the process of working on new designs for LACRM, I started experiencing something I haven't felt in a long time: Good discomfort. Let me explain...

In the early days of LACRM, my brother and I were creating a new product from scratch. We didn't have any customers to talk to, so it was up to us to figure out what needed to be built (this was before books like The Mom Test and Deploy Empathy existed). Creating a new product from scratch like that is uncomfortable. There's just so much uncertainty. You could build anything imaginable, but you have to pick one specific thing, so how do you decide what that thing is?

Over time, that discomfort faded. I didn't realize it at the time, but I now know why. It's because as our customer-base grew, we started getting more and more feedback from customers on what we should build next. If I look back at the projects we've worked on over the last several years, pretty much all of them were things that at least dozens of customers were asking for. Because we were getting so much feedback, we had a ton of clarity about what we needed to build. Yeah, execution was still a challenge, but there wasn't nearly as much uncertainty.

The projects I'm working on now aren't exactly things that customers have asked for. Don't get me wrong, we're working on solving problems customers have described to us, but this time, our solution is a bit less obvious. It's something our competitors don't have, and our customers don't know how to describe even though they know they need it.

As I've been working on the designs, I've felt that weird ache of discomfort that I haven't felt in a long time. I'm having thoughts like, "We have all these interesting ideas, but how will they all come together?" and "is it possible that if we build this, no one will even use it?" and "this design is a mess right now, maybe it's fundamentally impossible to do this in a way that's easy to use."

I wouldn't exactly say it's an enjoyable feeling, but it's exciting. If everything I work on is so obvious that I never feel this discomfort, that's a sign that we aren't actually inventing anything new. I know from experience that if we just keep working on it, eventually we'll come up with something that is simple, effective, and clear. We just have to push through the discomfort to get there.

This applies to a lot more than just product design. Almost all ambitious work is uncomfortable. If you want to do bigger things in the future than you've done in the past and you don't feel that discomfort, what can you do to get a bit (just a bit) of it back in your life?

Good stuff on the internet

The Elephant in the room: The myth of exponential hypergrowth [Blog post]
This post is long and pretty math-heavy, so reader beware. But it's the best explanation I've ever seen of how to model business growth.

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Wes Kao 🏛
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March 20th 2022

This thread is all about "managing up" (i.e. how to communicate with your boss) but I think it applies equally well for peer relationships and "managing down". Pretty much every team could benefit from following this advice.