- the SaaS bootstrapper
- The infinite game
The infinite game
Play to play, not to win.
Sup - Mac here.
Here’s what’s in store:
🎬️ Behind the scenes
➼ Greetings from London - the first English-speaking country we’ve been to in 18 months - where we are with good friends who met us here from the U.S.
Oh how nice it is to go to a nice big English-language bookstore.
But we also had the scariest moment we’ve had on all our adventures last night.
➼ I screwed up some technical details last week causing my newsletter to end up in most people’s spam folder. In case you missed it, I hope you’ll find it in your spam folder, mark it as not spam, and give it a read - it included some great learnings from some of my mentoring. You can also find it here.
➼ I’ve been thinking a lot about worldbuilding and how I can incorporate it into my business. It gets me super excited and I’m looking forward to seeing where it leads me.
Every time I go to Chicago, there's a line out the door and around the corner to get into the Louis Vuitton store.
A few weeks ago in Spain, I saw a hundred people waiting in line to get into the Swatch store.
Every time I pass an Apple store it's jam-packed with excited customers and huge fans.
Most of us have brands we identify with that feel like an extension of ourselves in a sense. Our friends are even likely to gravitate to the same brands.
Simon Sinek differentiates between businesses that play an infinite game and those that play a finite game.
Those playing the finite game play by a certain set of rules in hopes of winning. They view the game of business as having an end and a winner. These companies may do well for a time, but they will not endure.
An example of a finite player was Blockbuster Video, the popular video rental chain. As streaming video took over, they did not adapt, or keep up with the change. They simply stayed the course and rode their sinking ship when the rest of the world had moved on to the world of online video.
Meanwhile, companies like Apple, Nike, LEGO, and Patagonia play the infinite game. They do not follow a particular set of rules and do not see an end. They are in it for the long run.
For them, there's a focus on experimentation, innovation, and adaptation. They are not merely keeping up with change. They are driving change.
In addition, they have built a brand people identify with. A brand people want to be a part of.
People buy these brands to feel a sense of belonging.
Nike doesn't drive its products down people's throats and try to get the quick buy. They draw people in through their products, their fans, super-fans, endorsers, and even their values and what they stand for.
While world-changing innovation often requires more resources than the bootstrapped founder has at their disposal, there's a lot we can learn by looking at how they build a sense of community and belonging.
In the online world of marketing there are two main approaches, for the sake of simplicity:
- The funnel approach: This is common in many types of online marketing, used in sleazy affiliate schemes but also by some well-respected brands. The idea is to drive a prospect from the top of the funnel from creating awareness through to purchase (and ideally on to subsequent purchases and advocacy). Here, brands are trying to define when the prospect buys.
- The world-building approach: This is where we create a world that our prospects are drawn to. One where they are attracted to what we have to offer, identify with it, are naturally inclined to talk about it with their friends, and can buy our products anytime they are ready. I like to think of it like a choose-your-own-adventure where the prospect can choose their path and be a willing, lifelong customer.
Clearly defining the type of business we want to build can help guide the decisions we make.
While it can be tempting to create whatever sort of lead magnet will get us the most email addresses, this isn't necessarily the best long-term decision for our business.
In building my business, I am in this for the long run and want to play the infinite game.
I'm doing this by building relationships, creating evergreen content, and fostering a sense of community. I'm doing this by clearly defining my values, and ensuring my decisions are led by those.
By leading with our values, we are making it highly likely that others will resonate with them and be attracted to them. Just as the people in our friend circle are attracted to our character and values, we can do similar with our business.
What kind of business are you trying to build?
⛰️ Challenge of the week
Think about what kind of business you want to build.
Are you trying to make a quick buck and okay with riding a current wave or building something that may not last?
Or are you trying to build something that will last - a world that you can be proud of and be in for the long haul? A brand that attracts people and one that others can start to identify with?
What do you want to be the main factors in your business decisions? Is it values? Something else? Can you get clear on this so you have a framework to reference at each crossroad?
Here’s a fun video on the evolution of worldbuilding.
🙈 In case you missed it
Would you be interested in a SaaS Bootstrapper community?
A place to engage with others, share and get feedback.
💁 When you’re ready, here’s how I can help
1:1 Coaching via chat: For just $99/mo you can connect with me privately in Discord and get help from me along the way, whether it’s about brainstorming ideas, figuring out if you’re on the right track, determining your next steps, going to market, or scaling. The price goes up by $50 for every 5 people that subscribe.
1:1 Clarity call: Wherever you are on your bootstrapping journey, chances are I've been there. I know the struggles and challenges and am here to help through a 1:1 clarity call.
Aware: If you’re looking to step up your audience-building game on LinkedIn, this is a great time to invest in your audience growth.
Tools and resources: A complete list of the tools and resources I use to run my business, and some books that have helped me along the way.
Last but not least, get a free product promotion: Refer this newsletter to 3 people, and I’ll mention your product in an upcoming newsletter to my thousands of readers.
The easiest way to do that?
Copy and paste your unique ‘share’ URL below, and post a nice tweet about this newsletter with that link. 😀
P.S. How did you like today's newsletter?
Have a great weekend!
P.P.S. What are you thinking about as the year comes to a close? Reply and let me know! I reply to every email!