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10 Commandments of Fastlane

A detailed account of a Fastlane process...


Bronze Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Nov 28, 2017
This thread is to track my Execution/Progress. But to track it, I have to bring up the past to explain myself.

Why did I go slowlane after school and work for an a**hole? Why did I make $170,000 per year and leave without a Plan B? Why did I build a $10M company and then burn the boats again (walking away with almost nothing)?

The Past

When was your FTE? The fact is, I've been an entrepreneur since the beginning. I somehow said F*ck This in childhood and grew up quickly.

What will you get from this thread? By reading it, you'll see that failure is part of the process. You'll see someone fail a hundred times and succeed 1/10th of the time. You will get to know me intimately. You'll know my hopes and fears and what I'm working on (succeeding at and failing at.) Most of all, you'll get a reminder that building a business is a complete pain in the a$$ that is entirely worth it.

Where does this journey begin? To succeed, I strongly believe we have to know ourselves - and in my past you may see your own. So here, I've distilled thirty years of entrepreneurship and fastlane into 10 Principles or "Commandments".

1991 - 5 Years Old
Commandment 1: Make sure you have permission from your governing body.
My mother found me putting price tags on my toys that I planned to sell on the lawn. I also woke up early one day and placed price tags on her clothing. I rightfully got in shit for this. As a business owner, if you don't have permission to sell something you will be shut down quickly.

1997 - 11 Years Old
Commandment 2: If you don't act you'll get nowhere fast.
I wasn't a very normal child. While other kids built friendships and played, I was usually writing out plans. I'd plan out how I was going to make a series of products or produce and distribute films and eventually buy a sports team or start an automotive company. I spent a few years doing this: making a plan and revising it over and over. I wasted a lot of time during this period. As a dreamer and a person with drive, you can sometimes get caught up in possibilities. The fact is: almost all of the dreams are possible if you take action immediately.

1999 - 13 Years Old
Commandment 3: Insurance is cheaper than guilt.
In Grade 8, I had an MMA Style fighting league in my backyard. Not sure how I got away with this one for so long... At these shows I charged $2 CAD at the gate (10-30 students would watch) and the shows were also recorded and sold over the internet for $10-20 USD (only $50-100 per month in revenue). I often think back to the moment where one "fighter" slammed another onto the remnants of a picnic table. After which, I noticed there was a long carpenter nail protruding from the board an inch from his neck. The thoughts of what could have happened still give me nightmares. As a business owner, a leader, you'll have a lot of power and you can ruin lives if you're not careful.

2000 - 14 Years Old
Commandment 4: Customer Service is the most important part of any business.
In Grade 9, I coerced a few friends to help me service customers in the lawn maintenance, yard care and snow removal industries. To get clients we went door to door and canvassed. We procured one job in particular that was $20 CAD daily and it felt like big money at the time. Buying lunch every day and flashing money in front of the cute girls was fun. One day, this most valuable customer gave me a call for emergency service but I didn't answer (it was the home phone and I didn't check messages at that age). A few days later, I made our next scheduled visit and was greeted at the door by a disgruntled customer and he told me the work was already done by a professional and that they didn't want me to return. I regret not answering the phone call. As a business owner, our services can be replaced at any moment and we have to out service the competition and never get complacent.

2002 - 16 Years Old
Commandment 5: Sometimes it isn't the right moment for an idea.
I had an idea to deliver food for restaurants that didn't want to pay for delivery staff. I got insured, found drivers and marketed the product. After a few weeks, the drivers opted out because the business wasn't able to provide them with a living wage. As a new company, orders were merely trickling in. As a business owner, sometimes we have an idea that's a bit ahead of its time. If I had been old enough to drive rather than rely on others, this could have taken off.

2004 - 18 Years Old
Commandment 6: Only you can value your time, no one else will.
I built up a small web design company to afford school and to pay the bills without going into debt. I worked long hours during this period between design projects and school work. I had to develop for 30-40 hours per week, at minimum and push to 40-50 hours if I wanted savings or spending money to entertain. I hurt my health during this period because I thought I was worth only 1.5X to 2X minimum wage. As a business owner, we have to value our time even when we're making $0. Every action should be, in some way, revenue generating.

2007 - 21 Years Old
Commandment 7: Education is meaningless for me and most others.
I spent years coasting through education. I spent other years focused on excellent grades. I sought meaning in education and found nothing. I challenged professors to convince me that I would use these skills later in life and they weren't able to. Education is only for those that don't know what they want or those that want to specialize. When you're naturally a serial entrepreneur, your whole life is going to be an exercise in unstructured education. It's not that structured education is bad, it's just that we aren't meant for it.

2013 - 27 Years Old
Commandment 8: Don't rely on a partner.
I developed an exciting high-tech venture with an equal partner. The development side of things went slower than expected. The business development side also went slower than expected. In the end, we parted ways due to differences. Over the next 12 months, I had two other new venture partnerships fall apart. One wanted full control and didn't like that I acted independently. The other didn't have enough time and so I replaced him -- and to this day he hasn't spoken to me again. As a business owner, we need to do our own thing. Keep everyone else a minority stakeholder or lose years and your sanity.

2016 - 30 Years Old
Commandment 9: Ideas don't matter; Only Sales matter.
My mid to late twenties was my slowlane period. Despite never wanting to be part of it, I became part of the system as the #2 Employee in a well-funded startup. In many ways, these years were wasted. However, they taught me a valuable lesson that changed me entirely. This time taught me that ideas are a dime a dozen and only sales matter. Why? The idea for the company was great, the execution was excellent... Every potential client should have wanted the product, but it was still a very difficult sell to make. If you didn't know exactly how to present it, how to build relationships, how to serve the customer (Commandment 4), you weren't going to sell it. As a business owner, if you can't sell, you likely won't succeed. If you can't book meetings, you likely won't succeed. If you can't close, you like'y won't succeed. Even your best ideas will require you to sell your a$$ off.

2018 - 32 Years Old
Commandment 10: Some concepts aren't profitable.
Right now, I like to operate with two active companies at once. I have one in technology, focused on software for manufacturing. And, until recently, I had another focused on health technology. The first is showing signs of traction but the latter never got off the ground. After a few thousand dollars were invested into testing the product in the market, the industry simply didn't want it. Right now, I'm packing up this business and upgrading a new idea into its slot. After awhile, you find that some business concepts just aren't worth it, even if there is some interest. It can be difficult to earn $100,000/year from a business and the next day decide that it isn't profitable enough, but you have to do it. It's easy to get stuck in low-yield businesses. You keep on waiting for the epiphany that you need to scale...but it never comes. Years get wasted and you only have $10-20/hour to show for it. As a business owner who can sell and is a proven closer, if you can't sell your current business, then it's a loser. Don't get emotionally attached! Emotions have no place in business. If you let them in, you're going to waste years or decades on losers.

All the failures that we experience lay the groundwork for success. As we overcome challenges and discard bad ideas, we're learning the principles to succeed at a higher success rate. As a business owner, the naysayers always quote that "1 in 10 start-ups fail." So be prepared to start 10 or 20.

The Present

If this thread resonates with anyone, I'll continue to share new principles/commandments as I learn them. And I'll add some information on my current businesses, how I choose ideas, and how I test them with minimal investment.
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Bronze Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Nov 28, 2017
Commandment 11: Don't Waste Time Talking

Have you ever talked a lot about what your business could do, if only certain things were true? Today, I had a conversation by text with a business associate. The conversation was about how to add a "viral" element to our marketing because our current sales cycle involves "too much hunting." After a few minutes, I realized there was a problem with the conversation: we already had it a week before. And again a week before that. The conversation turned more positive as we decided to get to the bottom of it once and for all.

The solution:

We're going to put the conversation to rest and stop speculating. Instead we're going to put together landing pages and A-B test them with AdWords and Facebook. We'll begin with a $1,000 budget and see if any can attract a new audience.


Bronze Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Nov 28, 2017
Commandment 12: Trust your F*cking gut

I've spent a lot of time in the start-up, incubator and angel investment world recently. At first glance, these places seem like a great place to network. But these environments are full of parasites and wannabe entrepreneurs that can't cut it.

Hundreds of people tell me on a weekly basis to adjust our sales funnel or focus more on SEO or build a content marketing strategy or pivot to an easier sell. However, 99% of these people have never worked for themselves and they're part of the new era...of commoditized entrepreneurship.

Just stick with what is working for you. Stay focused. Ignore the crowd of people telling you that everything you're doing is wrong.

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