Why founders should write — a lot
For years I have been practicing a reading habit of reading books. I read 2–3 pages a day. I am aware that I’m not the fastest reader and that my mind keeps popping ideas while I write and I have to jot it down and then read the page all over again. But that lean approach to reading helped me finish tens if not hundreds of books in the last 10 years.
My favorite books are business, leadership and entrepreneurship books. I also read about economics, psychology and history. As I read more and more the urge to create and write my own stories and articles emerged. I started writing on LinkedIn and Medium I even started a personal newsletter where I just inform everyone with my new articles and posts. Recently I started posting daily on Linkedin and I learn a lot from that. It’s through writing and sharing my articles that I learned how important it is for founders and entrepreneurs to write. It made me realize why myself and other founders should write — and should write a lot.
Your voice could make an impact and should be heard
I believe that entrepreneurs are the key driver in changing the world for good. Entrepreneurs are visionary, they build movements and they translate ideas into actions. Especially theses days it’s important that founders will voice their opinions and ideas about democracy, business, education and policy. I believe that in order to be a real leader in today’s world you have to have clear values and principles you stand up for and you have to voice them. Strong leaders do not shy away from saying what they believe in. Writing is an very strong way to communicate your beliefs and values.
Writing helps you build clarity and alignment
One of the most difficult tasks of leaders and startup founders is to have a clear vision, clear objectives and plan and align their teams. Accept from the obvious fact that writing a letter will align your team, board and other stakeholders, the process of writing is what matters here the most. The process of writing for me is just like building a product. I write an article or a letter, then I share to get feedback and I learn and iterate. In this iteration process I understand if my message was clear — did the readers understand my point? Usually I try to remove words and get it shorter as it is much more difficult to say what you want in a few words than in a page. One of the things I would encourage to do is set a limit of 500 or another number of words to articles. When I worked at Amazon, there was a role that documents should be 5 pages long. The reason behind that was for you to iterate and clarify your message in a limited number of pages and not create a 20 pages document that would not be focused.
Sharing is caring
As an entrepreneur what helped me a lot and still helps is to learn from the experience of others. I love to read insights written by other founders, investors in blogs like First Round The Review blog or in books like The Messy Middle by Scott Belsky. You get to be exposed to their entrepreneurial journeys — the ups and downs and learn how to design your own journey. The beautiful thing about entrepreneurial ecosystem is knowledge and experience sharing. You should share your experiences as well so that other founder will learn from that. You could write a blog, a post on Linkedin or even write a book about it. I learnt that especially new founders will appreciate reading an article from people who have been there themselves and sometimes reading things not from the super successful like Mark Zukerberg will make it more real for them and it will shape their journey and prevent them to do your mistakes as well.
Write your future and become visionary
Writing an article or a story is a creative process in which you can visualize how your future will play out. By writing a press release, or a use case or a user story, you can build the story of your startup and life’s future. It will help you think bigger, be bolder but also identify gaps in your story and what you should focus on or not.
A great example is science fiction books in which they predicted the existence of submarine and fights and getting to the moon. In 1865, the creative author Jules Verne published the book From Earth to the Moon. He told the story of three Americans who launched a spacecraft and landed on the moon. This vision turned up to be a reality. Writing turns on our nativity, our wildest dreams to be materialized and helps entrepreneurs think bigger. In the case of Jules Verne it helped other think bigger as well. When I usually write about the future I use the question ‘What if…’ and this helps me start imagining the future I would aspire to create.
The Writer’s block and the Innovator’s block
We all know the story about the author that sits days and nights and nothing comes up in his or her mind. Nothing works and they are in the state of the writer’s block. They are unable to generate new ideas and stories and they feel stuck until there’s a breakthrough and something brilliant is written that generates great feedback.
Entrepreneurs experience the exact same process. Founders and their teams constantly experiment. They build hypothesis, and try them out. Most successful startups that I know tried to experiment and get their product market fit for more than a year. They came up with ideas but their did not feel like the right one until they got their product market fit that led to great traction or revenue. The common denominator for both authors and entrepreneurs is that they keep going — they persist and endure.
Writing will help you get ready and adopt the Writer’s block mindset in order to persist with the Innovators block and keep going.
Now what? how you could start writing
As one of my favorite brands and the man behind the really amazing book Shoe Dog, Phil Knight, the Founder of Nike says — ‘Just do it’. Just start writing. You have so many platform to share your writing — from Medium, Linkedin and just a simple email to your employees or friends.
And like when building your startup don’t be shy to show an article that is not perfect. Review it and get feedback and improve — the most important thing is that your voice is heard and that you make an impact with your thoughts shared with others.
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