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September 14, 2023

4 Timeless Principles for Time-strapped Creators

Kevon Cheung

Founder & Head Teacher

“I don’t have time!”

Who said that? Turns out, it was all of us.

Solopreneurs juggle between too many things. Side hustlers only have 1-2 hours a day. Parents deal with distractions all the time.

I can’t say I’m a master of time management. But as a dad with 2 young daughters, I’m forced to battle the lack of time as I grow my business.

A lot of people seem to be doing too much but reaping not enough rewards, so I want to share with you the key principles from the last 3 years of building up Public Lab and Build in Public Mastery.

Overall, I think I have a stress-free mind and a non-aggressive way of building a business. Although massive numbers and growth are nice, I have a feeling that many people prefer my kind of business lifestyle.

But I have to give you a disclaimer. I am building this education business full-time and solo, so things might look different if you only have an hour or 2 each day.

Shall we dive into the 4 principles?

1. Marry an Audience

Pivoting is a key part of entrepreneurship. As we’re figuring things out, it is inevitable that we’ll have to move on from things.

But I’ve found that it is best that we stick to the same group of people.

That’s why I say “marry”.

We can pivot the mission, the problem, the solution, and everything. But if we pivot the group (target audience) that we serve, we get back to ground zero in understanding and connecting with them.

In the last 3 years, no matter what I create, it is for solopreneurs who want to be more open as they build their ventures. They have a strong sense of identity. They don’t take outside funding. They care about connecting with other entrepreneurs.

I think I’m just starting to understand who they are to write the line above. And it is after 3 years!

I know it is hard for you to pick out that group initially. That’s also why I created the PIERS framework (Principles-Interests-Exception-Reluctances-Strengths) in my book to help you discover yourself first in order to find that group.

2. Assemble. Don’t Build

When I look around at peers and students from my program, I see so many people build one thing, have some success, and quickly move on to building another thing.

I approached it so differently.

When I started out in late 2020, I was building projects for topics I thought had potential. Like Build in Public guide and Making Twitter Friends course. They have attracted tens of thousands of people into my world.

If I were to put on the “move on” lens, I’d probably think that if the Build in Public guide worked, then I had to focus on this topic. If Making Twitter Friends worked, then I had to solely talk about Twitter Friends.

If you’re part of the “move on” crew, I am guessing it is because the idea of niching down is scary to you. It is a commitment. It is a limitation.

But I don’t see it this way. To me, all these products are just parts I assemble in my system. Each part has its own value to serve my audience. All parts are working hard to bring people into my world.

The difference is that I don’t abandon the things I build along the way. I build-market-launch and then figure out a way for it to play a role in my unit.

I’m assembling. I’m not just building.

Brian, a student in Build in Public Mastery, had great success with his AI Writing Guide with a buzzing launch and 300+ downloads. But a few months later, he didn’t want to focus on AI anymore. When he was thinking about pivoting to a different topic, I told him:

“What if you don’t see AI Writing as your niche? What if your niche is a unique perspective in writing (something you clearly love) and the AI Writing Guide is just one part of your system? Since it is related to writing, it doesn’t have to go to waste.”

3. Build More Assets

Social content is important, but it is meaningless to just talk and talk and talk.

In our real world, conversations represent social content. They are the exchange of information between people.

But have you seen anyone get known by having amazing conversations? No!

This is why I always focus on building new projects, then I build in public to show how I’m doing it. That becomes my social content.

Projects and assets like courses, books, challenges, programs, etc. can deliver real value while getting recognition. People easily remember and refer friends to them.

I could have posted on Twitter/X for 2 years straight about how to make friends. Instead, I built a free email course called Making Twitter Friends. That mini course took me 3 weeks and brought in 3,300 students in 2 years without active marketing. All because it was very recommendable.

This is the kind of asset you want to build.

On the other hand, people don’t remember conversations and certainly rarely point things back at a particular conversation, right?

So should you take another Audience Building or Writing course? I don’t think so.

Take a Product Building course!

4. Seal the Leaky Bucket

When someone reads or watches your social content, that’s your chance to welcome them into your world.

Beginners would create more and more content to grow a following. They get blindsided.

Entrepreneurs would make sure there’s always an obvious next step if someone is interested.

This is why when I build a new product in public, I talk about it as soon as I confirm working on it (after validating the idea) to give myself a longer marketing runway. But I always make sure there is a link on my profile so people who are interested can opt in to my waitlist.

With this, even if my post gets only 1 person interested, I’m satisfied. I don’t need my posts to go viral.

The Common Pattern

You can probably see a pattern across the 4 principles — they all make sure that my effort is not going to waste.

I feel like being a parent really helps me do better in this area.

When I accept an invitation to a friend gathering, when I want to take a 20-min nap, when I decide to pursue a new project, I’m always thinking about if it is worth it or how it fits into the system.

Because time is so scarce, I lean into “compounding” to enjoy my growth.

I am not stressed out if I have to take time off social.

If my project gets delayed, I am not stressed out because I know people are already on the waitlist.

I feel like I’m always growing, just that sometimes it is slower, and that’s okay.

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What does it take to teach & EARN online?

Here's a case study of how I built a $100K education business.

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What does it take to teach & EARN online?

Here's a case study of how I built a $100K education business.

Read for free