Book Summary: The 7 Day Startup

I first heard about this book from this Reddit post. After Googling the book title, I found out that the theme of the book was to teach you to finally stop being a wantrepreneur and start executing on something. The story of the author, Dan Norris, is that he spent a year developing a startup which didn’t really go anywhere, and was actually going to have to look for a job because he was running out of money. However, with just a couple weeks left, he cranked out a wildly successful business by launching in 7 days. I thought this was very intriguing, so I bought it and gave it a read. Below are the major ideas I’ve been able to extract from this book.

Official Site - Amazon Link

A note about my process

When reading the book, I typed up a lot of raw notes into a text file. In making this book summary, I am essentially trying to summarize the main points I’ve learned into a neat format so that I can look back at it later on. The bulk of this post is a book summary mixed with my own personal thoughts as well. As a result, I have written things below that aren’t in the book, but are inspired by the ideas in the book.

Keep in mind that this summary is what stood out to me and in no way does it represent the full scope of the book. The book goes into a lot more detail with a lot of links and other resources as well. I did not read the chapters of the book slated for what to do after the launch.


It is very important to avoid:

And we should simply let people vote with their wallets.

Things may come to those who wait ... but only things left by those who hustle

The 3 Core Essential Elements required in entrepreneurship is:

  1. Idea
  2. Execution
  3. Hustle

However, it is very rare that one person can encompass all three. This is why it is often suggested that you find a partner who can help you out in the area (or areas) that you are not so proficient with.

For execution, in the short term it is to communicate your idea out to the world by launching fast. In the medium term, however:

execution is your ability to present your idea just as well as the best ideas in the world

In terms of hustle, it can be simply described as relentlessly pursuing what needs to be done at the time. For an early stage startup, this is generally about spending your time on the things that are most likely to bring you customers. So in a way, it can be said that:

Hustle = Getting Customers (through any way possible)

And so it follows, since after launch you need to get more people paying you. You have to relentlessly pursue your best method of getting customers, and not the stuff you naturally gravitate to. Let me emphasize that again, it’s about getting customers!!!


Validation does not work when the answer is not a definite yes (some refer to this as “if not f*ck yes, then no”). The idea here is that a lot of the current validation techniques are rather low commitment and do not actually give you much information on what the market actually wants. People can give e-mails, comments, likes, and really almost anything else, but you don’t know what they are really willing to pay for unless you make them pay.

People don’t know what they don’t want until they are forced to open their wallets.


Do not give yourself the time to make assumptions. Launch first and decide based on real customer behaviour

BEWARE OF HAVING TOO MUCH TIME - you will be inefficient

You must beware of having too much time because this will lead you to become inefficient. Just like how students can work extremely efficiently right before a deadline, the reverse is also true: having too much time will make you extremely inefficient. You must maintain that sense of urgency, and one way of doing that is to give yourself a really short deadline.

If you are a long way out, you make up tasks that you think are important.

7 Day Schedule

Day 1 - The Idea

9 Elements of a Bootstrapped Business Idea

  1. Enjoyable daily tasks - You have to make sure that the tasks you will be doing for this business can be enjoyable. Otherwise, people who actually enjoy those tasks will outwork you and succeed while crushing you along the way.

  2. Product/founder fit - Don’t stack the odds against yourself, stack them in your favour. Think about what skills you have, what you might be known for, and most importantly where you can provide the most value. For example, it may not be a good idea to pick an industry where you have absolutely no knowledge about when you are an expert in many other things. Don’t focus on making money, think about creating value.

  3. Scalable business model - There are some business ideas which simply do not scale. Think about how you can allow your business to replicate profits over and over. Don’t go with business ideas where there is a clear limit to your profit.

  4. Operates profitably without the founder - Maybe not when you launch, but at some point you would like to have the business automated so that it doesn’t consume all of your time. A business that consumes all of your time is just another job.

  5. An asset you can sell - The goal is to create something so valuable that you can sell it away (even if you don’t want to). Think about what you build as a long term asset. For example, having lots of site traffic may be great, but having a large e-mail list is much better.

  6. Large market potential - This is pretty self explanatory, but it will require you to actually think about the problem and do some research. Also of note, sometimes the fact that there isn’t anything out there similar to your idea may be a bad sign that there is no market need to begin with.

  7. Tap into pain or pleasure differentiators - The key to differentiating yourself is to look at current solutions and see where there is friction or annoyances. Usually, people experience pain points during a particular task, and experience pleasure points after the painful task is finished. Ask yourself if your idea sufficiently attacks these two angles.

  8. Unique lead generation advantage - How will you find your customers? Does the solution make you and your company unique? You need to be differentiated in the tradtional sense as well, the idea should allow you to catch the attention of people by virtue of its unique value proposition.

  9. Ability to launch quickly - Pretty simple, don’t choose something you can’t launch and modify quickly. If you are going to build something so complicated that it would take months, then you probably won’t be able to modify and change it fast enough later on as you learn from your customers. If it would take you longer than 7 days to come up with a prototype, either get better at making prototypes or find a better idea.

Avoid low barriers of entry - Also of note is to make sure you don’t pick ideas where there is a very low barrier to entry. It would be so easy for anyone to simply catch up to you right away if it was so easy. As you pick your idea, keep in mind that you have to be creating every single day.

An interesting idea from the book is that we should ask not what tools people might want, but what tools people are already paying for. This is what it means to relieve the pain points without cultivating new behaviours from customers. By developing something completely new and out of the blue, we have to coax our potential customers into thinking they might need or want our tool. However, if it is something they are already bleeding money into, then you can help them out there with your product.

Are people already paying for a solution to the same problem?

Actionable steps:

Day 2 - The MVP

It is a common mistake to over-minimize and under-viablize your Minimal Viable Product (“MVP”). Do not put out an MVP that is much worse than current products.

Good example:

  1. Put up screenshots, explain the product
  2. Client pays, make them do a few actions (for data collection purposes)
  3. Tell them their product will be ready soon
  4. Call and talk them through what’s being done; give them the product

Forget about automating everything, figure out what you can do manually now to launch within a week. This may be hard, and probably very painful too. But it’s even more painful to have worked on automating the task for months just to find out no one wants to use it.

Do not worry about how ugly or painful it looks on our end, what matters is that it looks like it will solve the customer’s problem. Always make sure you can deliver on customer expectations. Even if it means doing more manual work, make sure you can mimic the customer experience as quickly as possible.

Focus only on what you need to do to make the MVP something people would pay for. Just prove that people would pay for it.

A final note: Do not do free versions. Charge on the first day.

Chapter Summary

Actionable steps:

Day 3 - The Name

Don’t overthink it, we are going for an “acceptable” name. Just come up with 10 names that aren’t ridiculous. Here is a checklist to consider:

  1. Is it taken?
  2. Is it simple?
    • don’t make up words
    • don’t misspell words
    • fewer than 12 characters
  3. Is it easy to say out loud?
  4. Do you like it?
  5. Does it make sense for your idea (this is a bonus)?
  6. Broader is better (your business will probably change anyway)

Actionable Steps:

Day 4 - Build the site (in one day for less than $100)

3 Options:

  1. Create a site to capture e-mails before you launch in 4 days time
  2. Create a site that pre-sells your product before you launch it
  3. Create the actual sales page you will use on launch day

The author goes into a lot of detail (step-by-step) on how to create a WordPress site. I personally will not be using WordPress so I didn’t take notes on this part. Just make sure to have a pay button on day 7 when you launch.

Some useful sites:

Day 5 - Marketing

Content Marketing

If you’re searching for something, then other people probably are as well. Scratching your own itch may not work for business ideas, but it can work for developing a marketing plan. Find a gap in what you are searching for and produce detailed blog posts devoted to those topics.

Topic ideas

While doing this, make sure to:

One important thing to stress is that you must create LOTS of content. Also, consider doing guest posts and interviews on other people’s blogs.

Start Sending Emails

Try to build a list before launch day.

Building a List

  1. Add people you already know early on
  2. Have a landing page
  3. Send out high quality relevant information
  4. Give away something relevant and valuable to get people on the list
    • software
    • plugins
    • templates
    • ebooks
    • training courses
    • etc.
  5. Create good blog posts and create content relevant to the post that you can give away
    • Even if it’s something kind of trivial (like a simple checklist or template), because having something for the reader to download adds to perceived value
    • A lot of people download things just to see what it is, and in those cases you’ll probably leave a longer lasting impression in their minds
  6. Keep your emails personal and encourage people to reply
    • Get feedback
    • Build goodwill

Other things to try:

Chapter Conclusion

At the end of the day, it’s just about “getting your message out to qualified people as efficiently as possible”. Do it in a way that utilizes your unique strengths and gets you customers.

Action: Put together a rough plan for the first week or two of launch.

Day 6 - Set Targets

How do we know if we’ve failed or not? Rampant success and immediate flops are obvious, but what do we do with everything in between? Focus on the One Metric That Matters (“OMTM”) at different stages of the business.

During launch, focus on the number of people who signup and pay. Set a reasonable number that takes into consideration your reach, the marketing efforts, and price point.

Don’t set crazy targets, because overly aggressive targets can demotivate you. Shoot for a few customers early on and a realistic monthly growth rate.

WP Curve Example (very modest):

Monthly Recurring Revenue (“MRR”) has always been the metric of choice because it comes in every month.

Note that the OMTM can change over time. There is a chart in the book that talks about what OMTM is suitable for each phase of your startup and hot to measure it. This is a really important tool, so make sure you get the book and read it.


I skimmed some of the content past that, but the notes above is the bulk of what I learned in terms of getting to launch quickly and smartly. Some of the other content that talks about what to do after launch seems great too, but it’s not something I’ll get around to reading just yet. I hope that whoever reads this far into this post finds the above to be helpful!

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