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Building in the open with Substack
Maximize the open lines of communication
A while back I had this strange idea occur to me:
I’ve held comprehensive building in the open as an ideal for while. I can’t say why. It just sounds more fun. There’s something pure about it. Also not sure why purity is appealing in this context. I think there’s a bit of the open source spirit in there. Either way, I found myself in the same headspace this July as I was in last April but with some more specifics. Especially as Substack has released more features.
Here’s how I’d use Substack to build a company in the open
Create one Substack for the organization
Set up the founder(s) as author(s)
Use Chat, Notes, and/or Replies to Newsletters/Posts for everyday communication (think instead of Slack, Teams, Meet)
For longer, more strategic writing, Posts that you don’t send to subscribers, that you just publish for other authors (or yourself) to concretize your thinking and chat for comments and discourse on the, say, proposal
For longer, more strategic writing, that’s more geared toward informing external stakeholders Newsletters you do send to others
Other extraneous puzzle pieces are 1Password and Google Workspace as these seem pretty table stakes at this point
You’ll just have to keep the discipline to not use Google Meet though I assume there will be non in the open communication like Meet, SMS, etc.
Why and why not?
This fun little plan begs the question why do this? And what are the downsides?
Like I say above, I have this inexplicable urge to build in the open and I don’t know why. But are there real upsides? I have a hunch that the more connected you are to other minds the better. There will be noise, but if stakeholders are more informed it will be more like more heads are better than one. More stakeholders, even if they’re not investors or paying customers might knowledge share for the collaborative, ideating fun of it. (Thinking open source software dynamics here).
I think others can learn as well. They can learn from your decisions, your successes and failures.
Downside of doing this is maybe that others steal your idea. I think this is an extremely common mindset among founders but a very common rebuttal is that the idea is nothing, it’s all execution. I lean towards the latter’s camp. Who knows. Another downside might be friction. If you and your collaborators are used to other ways of working, doing so in a place in which you usually don’t post without polish or filter out a sillier way of putting something might stymie your communication flow. Slack is very fluid.
Open interesting questions
What about irl communication? Video communication?
Maybe just try to put out meeting notes after each session?