All the small things
Yesterday I went for a run and I realised something. I'm getting fitter. I'm not very fit, but I am becoming more fit.
I'm 5 weeks into the couch to 5k (C25K) program and yesterday I ran for 8 minutes, twice. With a five minute walk in between. Certainly not very impressive, but it's progress. 5 weeks ago I hadn't run for any longer than a minute in easily 5 years.
I used to run a lot actually. When I was 15 I heavily involved myself in exercise, starting with running and progressing into strength training. I used to train almost every day after school, and progressively got very fit.
I stopped when I started university, because of my student budget. Or at least that's what I tell myself. Every time I've tried to get back into exercising I've been completely demoralised by how much my fitness level has dropped.
I forget how long it took me to build in the first place and I get wrapped up in the fact that I'm not able to perform the way I was once able to.
Since starting again, I'm remembering that it's all gradual. A little bit every week adds up. I'm also enjoying it again but that's besides the point.
I've been coming to this realisation about a lot of things over the last year. It doesn't just apply to fitness but also, relationships, marketing, growth. All of the little efforts you put in every day or every week compound, eventually making all of those little things a really big thing.
If we look at the C25K program for example, it starts off very easy an manageable. The first week, you don't run for any longer than 60 seconds at a time. But because it is constantly ramping up, in the course of just 9 weeks almost anyone can get to a point where they're running for 30 minutes straight.
P.S. My next run is for 20 minutes straight, send all the energy you can...
I followed a similar compounding program when I got into strength training. This one was even simpler than the C25K one. The same five exercises every week, but each week you add 2.5kg to what you lift.
This all just compounds. If you start with the recommended 20kg squat, in just ten weeks you'll be squatting more than double that.
I also came across this tweet referencing a Paul Graham post about growth. Which I immediately found and read.
I've been really lapping his stuff up lately.
I found this concept of 10% week on week growth really interesting. 10% seems like such a small amount to me, especially if you're starting with a number like 3. This was the number of weekly clicks we were getting from mr. Google on our company site a few weeks ago.
The search impressions were a lot higher than that, but still pretty low at 51. So I decided to map out some weekly compounding growth to see what it would look like.
In Paul's post, he says that 5-7% a week is a good growth rate, and that if you can hit 10% you're doing exceptionally well. Our site isn't exactly starting from zero, just the domain is (recently switched over). Plus I fancy our chances versus the competition and like to aim high, so I took a stab at 20% WoW growth.
I'm not sure why the shape of this graph shocked me, but it really did. This is very clearly an exponential curve, but for some reason I was expecting something more linear like the strength training graph.
20% a week seems very doable to me. In fact, I've been tracking our impressions and clicks for the last 3 weeks and we're actually a little ahead of this......but it's early days.
If I can keep that growth going, this time next year we'll have just under 90,000 people visiting our site every week. Imagine that.
This is all just fiction until it's done but that's an exciting thought.
I used to aim for a lot of big and quick wins when it came to marketing. I would think in terms of publicity stunts, viral posts, featuring in TechCrunch etc. Those are nice if you can get them, but they have a quick spike on the graph and quickly drop off.
I'll point again to Steph's book, Doing content right. She speaks extensively about this, and is very good at it.
I think I was attracted to these tactics because of who I am. I like to be impulsive and shoot for the stars, and I probably always will. I'm just going to re-orientate how I take my shot.
Now I'm going to play the long game.
I'm going to build organic traffic, I'm going to build relationships with the future in mind, and I'm going to run 5km.