I loved everything about this article about blacksmiths and how they are much, much better at startups than most startup founders:

Several students in different episodes are obsessed with “expressing themselves” instead of following the brief (the job specification). They waste precious time in “creative” noodling instead of actually getting shit done.

Others indulge themselves in childish boredom and rebellion when it comes to the repetition of early stages of learning, instead of committing to the basics with all their hearts.

Several more wield perfectionism as a weapon against their own achievement… a weapon, and an excuse. Several show a great deal of self-importance, unwarranted — they talk themselves up, they expect they’ll win, they treat the advice of the master as irrelevant, or they crumble at the slightest criticism.

Others engage in bitter self-denigration, unwarranted — fatalistically wailing, “I’ll never be able to do this,” when experiencing the simplest of setbacks. They want to throw in the towel at the first bump. And the second. And the third.

Finally, and perhaps most fatally, many of the students seem to have zero patience whatsoever. They expect to jump straight to results, straight to the fun stuff — the creative stuff. They don’t want to put in their dues. They think they’re special. So they stamp their foot petulantly when their shortcuts fail.

These students claim to want to master a craft, but they resist the very nature of “craftsmanship.” Even though, to even get the apprenticeship, they had to apply and interview and disrupt their lives for 6 weeks or more!

So true… so…. true…. … … why?

Business is a reality engine:

Don’t work on the basics every day? You’ll fail.

Don’t market constantly? You’ll fail.

Don’t solve your customer’s pains? You’ll fail.

Don’t ship? Ha!

There you go: business in four sentences.

Every… single… day… I wake up making sure that the very basics are covered, that we have enough money in the bank for tomorrow and that the staff that we have are engaged and that we are constantly asking the hard questions from our customers and about our product.

This never changes, even despite the size and stage of your company, by the way. After having built a few companies previously I know that the grind is real, every single day, and that the scope and challenge of the grind never fades – just the specifics and details of what you’re grinding on.

But the basics are still very much in play. That is masterwork. That is mastering the craft of business, entrepreneurship, and life. That is getting up and not being spoiled. It’s about staying humble.


Also published on Medium.