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Brutally Honest BUSINESS Advice (Part 2)

Got amazing feedback on the first brutally honest BUSINESS advice email… so we’re back with PART 2!!

If you’re new, my business ( is about to do $100M in revenue this year.

But before that, I was rejected by Microsoft and Google (twice!). Fired by both Facebook and Mint after less than a year. And built 20+ startups that didn’t work out.

In short… I’ve had my fair share of mistakes. I want to help you learn from mine.

And I am still trying NEW things – just launched – check it out – building the world’s best directory of tools for solopreneurs. 

10 more pieces of brutally honest business advice for my younger self:

1/ Leverage your Zone of Influence

When I was at UC Berkeley, I noticed many freshmen couldn’t get summer jobs.

So I started HFG Consulting, a local consulting company, and hired them to help. I figured we knew the college well and could sell to local restaurants and stores how to market to our college. It worked.

We ended up spreading across 5 campuses and generated $50,000 within a year. Not bad for a senior (me) and some freshmen.

Your Zone of Influence is the intersection between your existing knowledge, skills, and network.

It is always easier to start a business in an industry you’re familiar with.

To find yours, ask yourself:

  • What do I get paid for in my day job?
  • Who do I have access to in my network?
  • What hobbies have people commented positively on?

If you’re reading this, you likely have $100,000+ worth of knowledge, skills, and experience RIGHT NOW that others would pay for.

2/ Focus on ONE goal

One of the biggest lessons I learned from working directly under Mark Zuckerberg was this:

Pick ONE goal… then focus relentlessly on reaching it.

Mark’s goal was 1 billion users on Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg and me working at Facebook. 2006. Yay, I had hair!

Every idea we’d bring to Mark, he’d always ask, “Does this help user growth or not?”

I remember going up to him one day and pitching him about doing monetization. He grabbed a marker and wrote “GROWTH” on the whiteboard.

If it wasn’t driving toward that goal, we didn’t do it.

You don’t grow fast by doing many things, but by doing ONE thing extremely well.

3/ The best marketing is a great product

When I was Director of Marketing at Mint, we grew from 0 to 1 million users in 6 months.

We tested many different marketing strategies – PR, blogs, influencer marketing, affiliate programs, etc.

Here’s an example spreadsheet I used at Mint:

But ultimately, the best marketing is a great product.

Marketing was easy because we had a product that customers LOVED, not liked.

First-time entrepreneurs focus on customer acquisition. Second-time entrepreneurs focus on customer retention.

And the best way to retain your customers is to build a remarkable product.

4/ Buyers buy again

When I was running my conference business (CommunityNext), I wanted to find people to sponsor my conferences. But I didn’t know where to find them.

Speakers at Community Next

So I looked at who was sponsoring OTHER conferences and reached out to them.

Instead of trying to find NEW customers – find the ones who are already spending money.

5/ The industry you pick matters

When we started AppSumo, there were ~10 SaaS tools. Now, there are 10,000+.

Want proof? Check out to see all the latest tools out there…

I’ve watched super hard-working people spend years working on ideas in shrinking markets with little to show for it.

I’ve watched less hard-working people achieve insane business growth by being in the right market, at the right time.

WHAT you work on matters more than HOW hard you work.

A growing market makes business easy. A shrinking market makes business hard.

6/ Work backward from your lifestyle

Another thing I’d tell my younger self is to be more intentional with the lifestyle you want.

In my 20s, I was obsessed with getting rich and proving Facebook wrong for firing me. But when I became a millionaire, I still found myself chasing money for the sake of money. Sometimes I still do. 

Far too often, I see entrepreneurs start a business for freedom but get sucked into their business and end up working MORE than if they just stuck with their day job.

Don’t trade your 9-5 for a 5-9.

Now, in my 40s, I find myself saying no more. I’m selling most of my real estate. And my priorities have shifted to spending time with my family.

What’s your dream life? Write it down and keep it in a place where you look often to remind yourself.

You need less money than you think to live your dream life! I talk about how to calculate and obtain your Freedom Number in Million Dollar Weekend.

7/ Practice Leadership

The advice I’d give my younger self is to practice leadership.

For example, start by hiring a cleaner.

You may be thinking, “Really, Noah?”

Yeah, that’s leadership. You learn how to agree on the money, make sure they’re responsible, and check in on them regularly.

The more you can practice hiring, delegating, and focusing on the areas you want to – the better leader you will become. And like any skill – the more you practice, the better you get at it.

Sometimes leadership is about saying what you’re going to do and convincing others to join you. And other times it’s about being the last person to talk and leading from the back.

Every single person is a leader. And to be a great leader, practice leading.

8/ Selling is the most valuable skill

Selling may get a bad rap these days, but the truth is EVERYONE is selling you something.

  • Going on a date?
  • Interviewing for a job?
  • Trying to get a customer?

That’s ALL selling.

Selling at its core is an Ask. And how do you get better at Asking?

In Million Dollar Weekend, I talk about The Coffee Challenge.

The next time you go to get a coffee, ask for 10% off and see what happens.

I promise you if you commit to doing this – it will change your life. You’ll see that asking is never as bad as it seems and that you’re better than you think.

Don’t worry about whether you get the discount, the point is that you’re practicing asking.

The more you ask, the better you get.

9/ Don’t “burn the boats”

Another thing I’m seeing is this idea that you have to quit your job and “go all in”.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds stupid and dangerous. 

Most people shouldn’t quit their jobs – at least not right away.

Instead, block off a 60-minute block each day to work on your escape plan.

This is YOUR time to build new skills and explore side projects.

  • Wake up 30 minutes earlier.
  • Give up 1 episode of Netflix
  • Reduce your screen time by 20 minutes

That’s more than 60 minutes right there.

Creating your dream life is possible.

10/ Why not you?

It sounds cliche, but I’m not anyone special.

I don’t have an Einstein-level IQ. I wasn’t born to mega-rich parents. And for the majority of my career, I felt lost and confused.

I failed SO many times.

But because I kept going, each failure became a valuable lesson.

Entrepreneurship is simply the ability to come up with ideas, the courage to try them out, and the mental fortitude to keep going.

YOU can do it.

Start small. Start now!


Rooting for you,

Noah 🌮

Ps. I HATE paying for overpriced bloated software. So I just launched BreezeDoc – the simplest document-signing solution. Collect signatures from one or multiple signers with ease. Pay once, use forever. Check it out! 💚

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