There was an idea… to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more. So that, when the time came, we could fight the battles that they never could.Nick Fury, Avengers
tl;dr this for me, CL: What the heck is the Avengers Initiative?
The Avengers Initiative is my solution to niches for me (and maybe other folks like me?) Rather than trying to focus all of my energy on one project and try to find new and interesting ways to make that one project fun for me, why not do many projects for as long as they need me and then move on to the next ones?
There’s an overarching umbrella personal brand and I’ll be building everything in public so that people can see the inner workings of how I’m doing it and what real ass entrepreneurship looks like. I’ve been a freelancer or business owner for over 15 years at this point. I have contacts, eyeballs, and interests in a lot of places. I have a wealth of untapped knowledge and expertise. I can share that as part of all of this.
So, that’s kind of counter to all business advice…
Yes, this is true. The idea of having a niche is very important for most businesses and it’s awesome advice for folks who aren’t obsessively multipassionate and overwhelmingly ADHD. However, I am both of these things and found that, while running a business brought me a lot of joy, the idea and process of niching down was impossible, made me feel really shitty about myself, and was just something that consumed a lot of my creative energy.
So, how do I solve this problem? I just don’t fucking niche.
Because I’m in a situation where I can focus on building rather than earning money, why am I not doing that? Why am I trying to force something so counter to who I am? I should be taking advantage of the privilege I have here. Instead, I’m not and I’m making myself miserable in the process. I’m done with that.
Why “the Avengers Initiative”?
First and foremost, I’m a nerd. When I hit this a-ha moment, I heard the quote above in my head in Samuel L. Jackson’s voice. This is about me using all of my skills, all my ideas, all my strengths on lots of things instead of trying to focus on one thing exclusively. Just like the Avengers is a group of “remarkable people” becoming “something more”, my remarkable skills and passions can become more by letting them all see the light of day at the same time or in shifts instead of trying to pick one or a few to shine all the time.
Also, I want these projects to be collaborative, beyond joint ventures and into true partnerships and collaborations. I want to work with the amazing people in my life to make us both shine brighter, faster, longer. Whether that’s as true partners, as an investor, or just as a consultant, I want to find new and interesting ways to work.
The Two Sides:
This will be the main “what’s Carolee doing and thinking?” space. Not only will it be the repository for all of my business-focused content, but will also include the announcements, retrospectives, etc. for each of the microbusinesses. Things I could also see under this umbrella are 13Apart (my podcast with Monica), planner things (focusing exclusively on how I use my tech and paper mix to keep things running) and other business lifestyle content. I could indulge my love of tech here, of trying new things, new apps, etc. and turn it all into sweet, delicious content.
This will be a very personal brand with a lot of me showing and being myself. It’s going to take a lot on my part but a good chunk of my life will be totally offline as part of the transition to this with some clearly drawn lines in the sand and I can move those lines as I see fit.
These are all the start ups I’ll be starting up. Ideally, it’ll be 1-3 ideas, worked through on a cycle of a quarter at a minimum. For some projects, it may be longer than that, especially for larger ideas or things that seem to take off. There are some things I can boot up in 12 weeks. Some things need 24 or more. This will be assessed both at the beginning of the project (as part of the planning phase) as well as at the end (retro phase).
Some initial ideas:
- the Running Westholme book
- an imported stationary shop
- kitchen store using affiliates and dropshipping
- faceless YouTube channel
- marketing company with Ryan
- 13Apart podcast
- project management podcast with Ryan
This is just a short list here. The idea is to hop in, get in the mix of it, see how it goes, and learn from it. The ultimate goal, however, is getting them to automated or low-touch maintenance mode. The ideal is that I found the right plan, group of people, whatever to make it become mostly passive income. If I see it doing well, or see that it could be doing better, I can slot it back into a quarter for updates, hands-on management, whatever it needs to take it up.
Ryan described it as “you’re like a VC but the businesses you’re investing in are yours!” and I think that’s a great way to sum it up. Get in cheaply, play around, learn, grow, and then hope it turns a profit, is fun, or achieves whatever the goals for it are.
Also, at any point after it’s completion date, I can shut it down. I need to make sure I retro why it didn’t work but nothing has to be permanent or forever. Maybe I sell it, maybe I just close it. Assuming that I’m keeping everything on the up-and-up (I am good-aligned after all), it’s my business. I can do what I want with it.