Fork me on GitHub

Seven Day Startup

A book by Cory Mawhorter


So you want to start a business. Well, you're not alone.

Every schmuck with a website, university with an MBA program, and former founder with a few bucks in their pocket thinks they can tell you how to make it big in their next podcast or blog post.

The truth is most of them have never done it. They read a lot of books, they spout a lot of nonsense, and in the end they give misguided advice to people like you who have an awesome idea. They don't KNOW the things they are telling you and the advice gets dangerous.

The truth is that you can start a business right now, education and resources be damned. You can create a product and land your first users in as little as a week. Why am I different? Because I've done it – I've been down this path multiple times and I know what works, what doesn't, and more importantly, how to move on when the time is right.

But there are a few things to get out of the way first. A few important details every young entrepreneur needs to know. The stuff that gets lost in the noise about why some companies fail, others succeed, and others still never make it off the ground.

Who Am I?

My name is Cory Mawhorter, and I didn't get a fancy degree from an overpriced school with a prestigious computer science program.

I put my head down and got to work and before most of my classmates had even set foot in an office, I had built and grown my first business into something special.

That was 16 years ago. Since then I started two more companies and am working on several additional projects, including an as yet unnamed non-profit.

Did I learn how to do this in school? Did I have a helping hand or an angel investor pouring money into my ideas?

No and no.

I am 100% self-taught – both in code and business – and I built what I created not knowing a damn thing about business. And it worked, but it wasn't luck. It was the result of perseverance, and a willingness to fail.


Failure Is an Option

All of this means that I have a very specific perspective on what you're trying to do. As a teenager, I was building, coding, and running a business without any background in doing so.

And now you're reading this because you want to start a business, right?

Good, because that's what we're going to look at, but it's going to be different from what you might have read elsewhere.

I want you to build a business. Not think about it. Not plan it. Not brainstorm it. I want you to build.

That means you'll be doing it as fast as possible. I want you to forget about what "might" happen. Seriously, things fail…a lot. For every founder who struck it rich in his first go, there's a thousand other founders who tried and failed a dozen times before making it happen.

In this game, be ready to face plant every now and then. Better yet, get excited about it. Failure means you're learning, and when you learn, you get smarter – smarter than the competitors who tend to quit after one or two trips. You will probably fail, so prepare for it now and know that you're going to get smarter and be capable of doing more because of it.

Does that mean you want to fail?

Hell no. Everyone wants to succeed, but be ready for failure. 

The startup world is full of people who went to the grindstone for their ideas. Tried over and over again to make it happen and eventually found success.

But there's a catch to all this.

If you're going to fail, do it sooner than later. Technology moves too fast. Evolves too quickly. You need to be quick on your feet, and more importantly, willing to know when to call it quits.

If you don't, your competitors will beat you in the inevitable arms race that ensues or you'll fall victim to the very real risk of scope creep or vaporware.

At a certain point, when failure rears its ugly head, you're throwing good money after bad. When you put an idea into the world and attempt to start a business around it, endless failure with no success in sight is a sign – a sign that your idea isn't meant to be, at least not yet.

Does that mean it will never work? Maybe not, but without countless hours and a bottomless pit of money, you'll never know. Any project can succeed with enough money behind it. Will it profit, though? No. What you want is feedback – positive feedback that shows you from the minute you press "start" that it's worth your time.

Anything less is a failure and you need to be okay with that.

What constitutes a failure?

  1. Poor user feedback – What do people say after using your app? Are they eager to keep using it? Would they pay for it again? Do they want their money back? The feedback you get up front (even from family) is huge at this point.
  2. Slow user growth – How long does it take to get new users. Quick user growth means an app that people need – something they show to others and get excited about. If no one is signing up, maybe no one needs what you're offering.
  3. Not making money – Bottom line, if you don't make money on a project, don't keep doing it. It's not a hobby, it's an investment, and good investments give a return.

If you create a product and people don't like it, your product may be a failure, and to avoid over investing in a failure, it's time to start over. The best part, though? You've only spent a tiny bit of time on that idea. You aren't so invested that you HAVE to continue.

The point of no return is miles away and the "loss" of failure is still far off. Yet one more reason why the quick start approach to a startup makes the most sense – you aren't as mentally invested if the product isn't a winner out of the gate.

To put it simply, it's better to lose $10,000 today than two years of your life. Trust me, it will be MUCH harder to give up after that time is gone.

Here's a bit of advice – don't be in anything for the long haul. Once you break that point of no return, failure starts to hurt…a lot. The sooner you are willing to admit your idea is dead in the water and refine or restart, the easier it will be to accept that a second try is needed.

Every Action Has Purpose

If there's anything I've learned in the last 16 years, and if there's anything I want you to take away from this book, it's that every action has purpose.

If you can't think of a good reason for what you're doing, stop doing it. Whether it's launching a product you built in a week to see what happens, testing a new feature in an app you just built, or asking for feedback from your friends and family, it all has a purpose.

And whether you make it rich right off the bat or you crash and burn and have to start from scratch, it all has purpose. You're learning. You're trying. You're building a better version of you – one that has created something new and exciting.

I want you to believe that anything is possible. I know it is because I've been there and I've done it. In the next 8 days, you're going to read about what I've done, why I did it the way I did, and what you can do to replicate my success (and many failures).

It’s a bit messy, nothing is guaranteed, and everyone reading this will see different results, but it's a process I know works because I've been following it since I was in High School.

I'm excited to share it with you and even more excited to see what you can do with it.