7 Lessons Learned, 5 Months In

So much time, and so little to do! Strike that, reverse it. I can’t believe it’s been five months already! Last September, feeling burned out and looking for new challenges, I walked away from my long-time corporate gig so I could spend a year wandering the Texas wilderness and consuming massive amounts of peyote in an effort to find myself.

Just kidding.

I’m spending 2022 working on Fink & Fink Games. It was such a fun process building our first game Marital Bliss from nothing into a game that’s sold over 35,000 copies, that I decided to see what we could accomplish if I worked on it full-time. The last couple posts covered specifics about selling on Amazon. This week I’m focusing on a softer subject: lessons learned (so far).

#1 – Effort gives meaning to life

I jotted down this phrase from the book “Drive” by Daniel Pink (I think) back in October when Nicole and I were first figuring out what the next steps were going to be for Fink & Fink Games. I’ve come back to it again and again since then.

Whenever I’m stuck, or not sure what the next step should be (or, here’s a purely hypothetical situation: kicking around different blog post ideas for an entire day without making any measurable progress) it rings true over, and over again. Advancing my work in ANY capacity is the biggest motivator. The days I move something important forward, big or small, are the days I feel most satisfied.

I think it works for any aspect of life. If you’re feeling stuck, unsure, unsatisfied with something, figure out your “work” and then put some effort into it. Life might feel more meaningful.

#2 – Kill your darlings

Consider this a cliffhanger for an upcoming blog post, but sometimes you have to let go of ideas that aren’t working… even if you really love those ideas. The origins of “Kill Your Darlings” has been attributed to different authors at different times. Overall, it means that I need to get rid of unnecessary elements, maybe even entire product ideas — things you may have worked hard on, and love, but just aren’t working and need to be culled for the sake of the overall business. So, how do you figure out when you need to make changes? Well…

#3 – Calibrate often, integrate new information

I think it’s especially true with a small business. I entered this process with some preconceived notions about what we were going to go do. Heck, I built a business plan around it. Then, as I dug in more, and made some discoveries (like realizing there’s usually 4+ games for couples on Amazon’s top 100 selling card games list) I realized there was a sizeable market opportunity for my existing product I was missing. So, we changed direction. And now, I’ve spent several months working to learn the ins-and-outs of Amazon… at the expense of our getting our next game to market. Was it worth it? Who knows. Time will tell.

#4 – Desire isn’t enough

Unfortunately, we don’t generate Amazon sales based on the number of times I refresh the app. And, I haven’t figured out how to “want” things into existence. Regrettably, I can’t make people buy our game, and my burning desire for success hasn’t paid our heating bill.

I can’t say (yet) that I know what it takes to make a business successful, but I know for darn sure that desire isn’t enough. (See bullet point #1).

#5 – Pursue the uncomfortable

A big red-flag for me is when I find myself avoiding a project that I know is important. Usually this means I’m procrastinating, or avoiding it because I don’t have all the answers I need. When I find myself doing that, I try to stop whatever I’m doing and make it a priority to set-aside some time to pursue that project. Intentionally shine a light into those dark places. Nothing good ever came from ignoring important work.

#6 – Minimize distractions

Much to the chagrin of my friends and family, I keep my phone on “Do Not Disturb” all day, every day. Not only is it wonderful for keeping spam calls away, it’s unbeatable for maintaining a state of “flow.”

There are no guardrails now that I’m working for myself. No boss asking for reports (and no paycheck if I don’t make it happen). It’s so easy to go down rabbit-holes on my phone, on my computer and elsewhere. Once I get distracted, the next thing I know I’ve wasted far too much time on nothing. It’s critical to set boundaries.

#7 – A year won’t be enough.

The last five months have blown by faster than I ever expected, and I’m loving the roller coaster. There’s so much yet to do, and I don’t think one year is going to be enough!

What do you want to see Fink & Fink work on next? Let us know in the comments.

4 thoughts on “7 Lessons Learned, 5 Months In

  1. Tom Poorman

    Thanks, Nick. I still have entrepreneurial aspirations and appreciate hearing your wise thoughts. I’m glad to hear you are pursuing your creative dream. I hope you and your family are doing great.

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