Evolution Happens via Iterations

February 21, 2021

All ideas begin like single-celled organisms.

The evolution of a person or an idea happens via iteration.

Iteration happens by constant action, trial and error and learning and course correction.

Everything starts as a tiny, imperfect version of what it eventually could be. Through iterations, they can evolve into something large, complex and beautiful.

In nature, we evolved from single-celled organisms, which at first became sea creatures, eventually crawled out of the water, developed into more species one of which were monkeys, of which one branch continued iterating down the path of evolution to arrive at what we call ourselves today, humans.

There were a gazillion iterations that happened between our current state now and where it all began. Those iterations can’t be skipped. We couldn’t have emerged as humans on day 1.

Start the process of evolution in your own life and initiatives

At an infinitesimally smaller scale, the same happens with any project, initiative, startup, business, call it whatever, we do with our lives.

You could apply this thought, or process to anything, whether you are learning to paint, becoming a musician or a writer, if you’re starting a small physical business, or something online like a community or a micro-SaaS.

The first day that you start working on your business or initiative is when it’s a single-celled organism. It’s alive, but can’t do much and doesn’t have many capabilities.

As you try new things, fail at most, find a few things that work, and start doubling down on what’s working, your single-celled business starts to multiply, grow, and evolve. Eventually it could become a large and successful business like Mailchimp, Convertkit, Buffer, Wingify, MorningBrew, The Hustle and many others.

1. Start

Whatever the thing is that you want to do, start.

By starting, you create a single-celled organism. It’s now alive. Your idea, your dream, your project, your business is now alive.

Examples from my own life

  • Building the first version of SuperLemon product in a week. It was now alive. You could even say that just merely deciding what the first iteration of the app was going to be made it alive.
  • Writing the first post on my blog, or Micro-SaaS guide, or the first Sunday Coffee newsletter. I've now sent out 36 editions. Sankalp is doing the same with his newsletter Wholesome Django.
  • Creating the first version of my Programmatic SEO course. The idea came alive with a single tweet, and it grew by the time the course was ready. I'm now working on the v1.1 content update for the course.
  • Building the first internal version of DelightChat as a team of 4 people. We are now 11 people, in closed beta, with actual Ecommerce brands using our product.

2. Iterate

Try things. Fail x9.

Try again. Succeed x1.

Double down x10.

Just like a single-celled organism needed food or an energy source to multiply, your business needs paying customers.

In order to move towards its food, the organism needed a mechanism to move. Your business needs a way to move, a way to reach those customers.

Try finding where those customers hang out. If it’s on Twitter, tweet. If it’s in a FB or Slack group, leave regular comments or share posts that can help with their problems. If it’s Google search, write content. If they convene physically at a meet-up, be there.

Your first tweet or comment might not get their attention. Don’t worry, try again. Try a different format, try giving more valuable answers, try messaging them directly via DMs or Emails. Keep trying until you find something that works. You only need 1 thing to work before you can try it again, and see if it works again. Double down x10 if it does.

This single-celled organism turns food into useful energy, and just like that your business needs to take your customers money and deliver them an outcome that they seek in their lives.

The first iteration of your product will have poor UX, might look ugly, might have most of the features missing. But it only needs to work well enough, it only needs to have those absolutely essential features that attract your first customers.

In the case of SuperLemon app, it was a simple chat button to which a Shopify merchant could configure their WhatsApp phone number. That’s it. There were no other features. Over 15 months, we built more functionality and grew to $25k in MRR!

3. Keep evolving

Keep doing the “iterate” step over and over again to infinity.

Find new ways to reach more customers and earn more revenue. Find new ways in which your business can deliver more value to those customers. You’ll switch from a single-feature product to having multiple features.

At some point, it won’t just be you or you and your co-founder. You might onboard other people who work alongside you on the business.

We are seeing all aspects of this evolution at DelightChat.

5 months ago, DelightChat started with

  • 2 people, Sankalp and myself, followed by our first 2 tribe members, Akash and Deb. We are now 11 tribe members.
  • A basic v0.01 that simply received forwarded emails, displayed them, and accepted text-only replies. We now have a product that connects with Email, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp. It’s deeply integrated to Shopify for viewing and modifying order data. You can reply using a rich text editor, you can create and execute Fast Replies (intelligent canned responses that work like macros). You can invite your whole team and collaborate on customer issues within a ticket, almost like a mini-Slack.
  • Receiving sign-ups only when we tweeted about the project. Now we get daily sign-ups via our content & SEO, completely organic, and we have started seeing word of mouth referrals too.

Eventually, with enough iterations and time, our single-celled business will evolve into a large and hugely successful one.

You can do the same.

Start -> Iterate -> Keep evolving.

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