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Adii Pienaar

Family man, seeker and learner. Revealing my inner-poet. 2X Founder: Conversio (acquired by Campaign Monitor) + WooCommerce (acquired by Automattic). Ex-Rockstar.

Comfort Zones

"A man grows most tired while standing still."

In the last week, I've spent about 10 hours on the phone with PublicBeta's Founding Members, just talking about entrepreneurship, their goals, challenges and how those relates to PublicBeta in any way. These calls have been structured as your typical Customer Development interviews and has already been immensely helpful in shedding the light on the right things.

Now, whilst the calls have been a success, I wouldn't classify myself as an expert in doing these by any stretch of my imagination.

In fact, the truth is that these are the first real Customer Development interviews I've ever done. Shock! Gasp! Horror!

Yep, in my 6-odd years at WooThemes, I never did this once. Not because I didn't think it could be useful, but because I just hated talking on the phone. So I merely avoided.

I was lucky - and in a comfort zone - that WooThemes was doing so well that I never needed to jump onto the phone and speak to customers. Recently with PublicBeta though, I was forced out of that comfort zone, as it became clear that we would fuck this up royally if we didn't speak to customers ASAP.

"Comfort zones are plush lined coffins. When you stay in your plush lined coffins, you die. "

During these customer calls in the last week, I've crafted a new perspective on comfort zones and I've realized that I had gotten into so many comfort zones with WooThemes. These comfort zones have become very evident, because most of these zones are particularly uncomfortable with PublicBeta at the moment.

One of these "zones" is the cost of all the various SaaS apps that we use. Due to WooThemes' size, revenues & profits, it was easy signing up for a $100 or $200 per month service. I would love to just continue using these tools with PublicBeta, as they're valuable and I know them well. But PublicBeta is self-funded and bootstrapped, making me think twice before committing to a $100 pm subscription.

I don't know what the answer is and sometimes it is just about closing my eyes and pulling the trigger. But every decision is a new one and it's darn uncomfortable making so many decisions.

"A ship in a harbour is safe, but that’s not what a ship is built for."

Part of my motivation for moving on from WooThemes was specifically because I wanted to work on something new.

I've always known that I'm much more of a creator than I'll ever be a nurturer. In fact, one of my biggest challenges when I was younger was that I never actually finished anything. Now I know that real artists ship.

Part of being an entrepreneur is about stepping out of comfort zones. Heck, it's probably about never really being fully content or completely comfortable. And that's the thing that drives our ideas forward.

I'm an entrepreneur to create my life in the best way I can. Part of that "best way" is having financial security and freedom. But the very fact that I'm an entrepreneur means that I'll probably continuously step out of that comfort zone, take on new risk to enable me to pursuit the next reward with something new.

We're not built for comfort zones.

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