steal this blog

We started with a new client two weeks ago, and we couldn’t be happier. It’s everything from soup to nuts: turning a conversation over coffee into a full fledged business and website. Business design at its core, which is half the reason I get out of bed. Innovation alchemy! Let me just put on my wizard hat…

But starting from scratch always brings up old questions. Queries that you, yourself, have answered so many times that you forget to ask others. It happens to me more than it should, and I’m guessing it happens to you, too: I start on step three. So as a reminder to myself, or a guide for others, I’m going to break it down Abbie Hoffman style!

man in front of crowd with raised fist


By which, I mean, keep it manageable and—most importantly—keep it cheap.

Of course a fully automated back-end with code written so well that it’s structured in sonnets is all of our dreams, but when you only have 10 customers, why not forgo all that for a simple email and manually do the work?

In an odd paradox, your startup idea is a bit like fine wine: the longer you wait to decide, the more valuable that decision. In finance, this is called real options, but in regular people terms it simply means that once you make a choice, you have fewer future choices. A decision for something is a decision against something else. But when you are just starting out, chances are that you have less-than-perfect information about your customers, your business, or your tech-stack.

Go ahead and kick the can down the road.




Even the best of ideas will have detractors.

I have a Facebook account so that far-flung friends and family can get ahold of me, but it would be a cold day in Hell if I posted, consumed content, or even logged on. Does that make Facebook a bad idea? Clearly! But the Zuck’s bank account would disagree. Just because your initial offering doesn’t take the world by storm—or land a single customer—doesn’t mean it’s time to make a hard pivot or throw in the towel.

Maybe the person you asked is an asshole. Maybe the story doesn’t resonate. Maybe you’ve been thinking about this idea for two months and they just started today. You have iterated on your product, but have you iterated your pitch? Your customers?

You should, even if things are going well. 




,, There are two keys to success: one, never give away your secrets.

We all have the tendency to guard what we hold precious. That’s okay. But that doesn’t mean that you should be so zealous in guarding an idea that you never share it with the world. In fact, the more an idea is shared, the better it is.

Yeah, there are always exceptions, and not everyone is acting in good faith. But unless you’ve discovered cold fusion or invented a longer lasting light bulb, there’s not a massive reason to keep the whole endeavor a state secret. Just don’t partner up with the Zuck.

Most people are want-repreneurs, and even if they think about stealing your idea, they’re too lazy to follow through. Consider it a compliment that the concept was worth stealing.

Don’t put your idea—and yourself—behind locked doors.


Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

—Abbie Hoffman, Revolution for the Hell of It