Alex Hillman's Hard-Won Business Lessons Distilled Into a Pocket Guide

Writing a tiny, useful book.

By Rob Fitzpatrick and featuring Alex Hillman

In this Useful Books meetup, we’re joined by Alex Hillman.

Alex has managed to distill his business knowledge in a 40m book called The Tiny MBA. Most business books are dry and academic. Others are medium posts with 1 good idea that are turned into a book by adding a bunch of fluff. Tiny MBA is neither. It was designed as a guide that you can pick up and get something new out of each time.



How Alex created The Tiny MBA

The Tiny MBA didn’t start as a book, it started on Twitter as a response to a challenge.

People gave Alex a business topic and he gave a strong opinion on it in a single tweet. That constraint forced him to distill his ideas into 240 chars.

Also, because of Twitter you’re automatically writing in public so you get immediate feedback. Alex was able to use that feedback to see what people liked/disliked which helped him even more in creating the book.

“Doing it in public + the tight feedback loop and seeing the way people would interact with which tweets made it incredibly valuable.”


What did he do well?

He made the book Tiny. It’s about a 40m read. Not only is that valuable for busy people (like entrepreneurs) but he positioned it as such by framing that as a positive value proposition.

As far as distribution goes he had success with podcasts as well as advertising in small, relevant newsletters. He calls those “micro-influencers,” people with an audience of 500-1000.

On doing a digital book tour:

“You can reach so many more people. The current audience of podcast + plus any future listeners is way bigger than a live book tour.”


Other noteworthy remarks

  • Audience building should be called earning trust at scale. Pick an audience. Pick a problem. The only way to do it wrong is to do nothing.

  • Make decisions that are relatively reversable. Cheap or fast to change.

  • If you’re stuck thinking you can’t discover the right audience/problem, the worst case scenario is usually that nothing happens. It’s better to make decisions and nothing happens, than to do nothing and nothing happens.

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