Andrew Kamphey runs Better Sheets, he is a Google Sheets wizard. Creating spreadsheets from thin air, and thin laptops.
Where did the idea for Better Sheets come from?
Better Sheets was born from anger and curiosity. I was angry when TNW posted an article about how useless the “transpose” function in Google Sheets was. I had used it for years and in fact reading that post made me realized I “loved” Transpose(). As much as any human could love a google sheets formula. I had been at a startup and working basically as “The google sheets guy” in the office. Built CRMs and production tools. Had done a lot of amazing things, all in Google Sheets. So my experience was deep. And I wanted to make something that could help many many many people. Google Sheets is where everyone starts a project. Perhaps with notes, or business models. And I was uniquely positioned to show them how they could get more from Google Sheets than they could imagine.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wake up very early, 5 am, and get started right away before the sun comes up.
I’ll check email and socials and marketplace profiles. Those are all the ways people will contact me, asking for help. I’ll try reply to emails as quickly as I can. Sometimes I snooze them if they are asking something a bit heavy, or I have to do more research. If I can answer quickly, I will. If I can make a video, I will. This method has proven to be effective. While sometimes I keep snoozing some emails and can’t get back to them “quickly” the majority of people who email me hear back from me by the end of their day.
In mid 2022 I decided to devote more of my time to a platform. Early in 2022 I tried to devote myself to Twitter but felt it had no lasting effect if I wanted to take some time off. So I switched to YouTube. I have been making one new YouTube video every day. So that’s actually how I start my day. I take some time in the morning to record, edit, and schedule a YouTube video. Then I’ll do the above checking of emails and socials.
If I have a larger project in mind, I’ll devote 1-2 hours to it. Some days I create and complete a project in one day. I’ll release the video to members, and write up a quick email to them as well. Some days I just publish the video on the site, some projects I release to the public.
Some days the virtual aspect of the work can be overwhelming. In that case I’ll make sure to go outside and get some sun. I’ll drive to a cafe and do some research/reading outside. In my past I’ve been burned out by staying inside for a few days at a time. I make sure to get sun, get outside, get some fresh air regularly.
By 2 pm I have my last cup of coffee and try to review if I have energy to continue work or would rather watch the sunset. As I mentioned I wake up earlier than most so my day is going to end earlier than most. I don’t party, or go out at night much. I’m in bed by 9pm majority of the time. And earlier if I’ve had an active day driving around, or it’s brutally hot (in Southeast Asia)
How do you bring ideas to life?
How I usually have my best ideas is to have a bad idea brainstorm. I’ll literally think about a problem and all the ways NOT to solve it. I’ll come up with brutally awful solutions, painful solutions, offensive solutions. I break down the strangest solutions into their individual parts and figure out.. Hey wait.. That’s not such a bad idea.
Usually my best projects and ideas that have come to life are due to some anger, or a chip on my shoulder. I was angry some solution didn’t exist. Or I had to prove to someone that this could be done. I launched Better Sheets in one day because another project was taking a lot longer than expected. I wanted to prove to myself I could ship a project in one day. 24 hours later I launched Better Sheets.
When I made Creatorscape, an infographic of all the companies online that helped creator monetize, it started as a single page in a VC pitch deck. I started doing the research and couldn’t stop. Ended up 3 years later with 3 version of CreatorScape and sold the concept to a company.
OnlySheets, a product in BetterSheets came about because I myself was selling google sheets and was angry for having to make my sheets available to everyone with the link in order to sell on a platform like Gumroad. I wished there wa a way to only give individual buyers access to the sheet, one at a time. I thought about how painful it is to get an email of a sale, and add the user as a viewer of the sheet. Breaking down that idea helped me figure out that Apps Script could do this. So I created OnlySheets.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’m in love with the AI trend. Not to take over our jobs or anything like that. But rather as an aide to work. There are so many segments of our day to day existence that are rote, routine, and done all the time. AI can help in typing out intro’s or outro’s or email invites. AI, and computers can scan thousands and millions of records faster than we can. And they can store connections our human minds wouldn’t necessarily make, or even store in itself.
In Google Sheets, AI can be seen in the “Explore” button. As well as autofill, autocomplete, and much more. I’m excited to see the next 2-3 years of development in this space. I think we’re going to see a huge shift as it gets easier to implement on smaller data sets.
OpenAI is scouring the entire internet, but AI applied to our own personal data for our own use, will be an exciting step. I’d love to be able to give google drive access to a private AI, and let it write more of the google docs that I haven’t finished yet.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I try to create. I call myself a serial maker. Someone who just makes things. I think this is akin to miners digging for gold. The greatest thing is to make something from nothing. Look at the energy sector. There’s energy in our sun, in our wind, water, and under the ground. They just find it and bring it forth into the economy.
When in doubt, I err on the side of making. Make something. Even if that something is a google doc outline. It’s writing. It’s copy. It’s words to persuade. And current technology is allowing words to turn into anything. Words can turn into websites, words can turn into ideas. Words can turn into images (DALL-E). Words can turn into video (Descript).
What advice would you give your younger self?
Charge! Charge for the world you do. Charge for the time you put into the work you do. I have had some pretty bad years where I created something and never charged for it. I wish I had those years back. I wish I knew something wouldn’t work earlier. I’d know that if I charged for it. I even wrote a book about this advice. Called “Charge!”
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Working asynchronously is better for every single person in an organization. Every single person. Every single stakeholder, from customers to shareholders. I think we just haven’t had the proper type of technology. But this kind work with gig work can already be seen in existence but not across mainstream work.
I’m working myself towards a completely async lifestyle and implore others to research and work towards the same too. At least consider moving parts of your life to async. Getting coffee, jumping on a call, even virtually, I think will prove to be a thing of the past eventually.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make things. Making is better than planning. No matter what your plan is, once you start working on making something, everything comes into stark focus. Every problem, and every solution is better off with action over over-thinking.
It’s something I have to remind myself every time i sit down to plan a day, plan a month, plan a year. I’d take action any day.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One strategy I’ve used to grow my business is to list in existing marketplaces. I found that marketing on my own is tough to break into new markets. Existing marketplaces full of people who are actively improving their own business and looking for solutions will be more likely to buy than nearly anyone else on the planet. I’ve listed Better Sheets on AppSumo Marketplace to great success. Getting to $100,000 in revenue in the first two years. That’s roughly $4,166 per month.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I didn’t charge for my work for quite a while. I was making a product that was useful to many creators on Instagram and I just didn’t charge for it. I was silly not to do that. It was one of the biggest failures of my personal career because I had been running an agency version of the software so I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought a software version of my work would be great. It was too much ego and not enough value for others. But also I didn’t get to test out the value because I didn’t put a price tag on it. Silly me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
After two years of running Better Sheets, I think the business model is infinitely useful. I think everyone can make videos the same way. Via loom. It’s as simple as recording your own screen. And to make them available behind a pay wall is easy. And I think everyone knows something deep enough that they can not just teach but show others how to do what they do. And the idea can be made for any industry or people. Better anything!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
My life had been getting more and more digital. My eyes getting sore from being on a computer all day every day. I bought a roll of paper. I know that sounds weird. But it’ about 50 meters of paper in a roll. In stead of investing in a whiteboard and having to hang up a big heavy thing, i got this paper. I cut off a huge piece of paper, and tape it to my wall. It’s great to write on, it’s great to keep notes. I cut off some excess and keep it on my desk to write notes instead of buying new notebooks now. Great to jot down some quick ideas, and to-do lists.
Sometimes I do big long brainstorming, and I cut off a big piece, it’s longer than I am tall. But it allows me to go crazy. I do workflows, I do brainstorming, I do big to-do lists. And can tear it all down in a fit of rage, without costing myself the cost of a whiteboard. Easy to move around to different walls.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
By far the best piece of software I have is Loom. It’s made my business. Makes it so easy to turn my life into an async life too. I record 5 minute videos instead of scheduling half hour meetings. I ask questions, i review new software I’m trying. I share what’s going wrong. I show people how to do things quickly instead of having to write out step by step.
I love it when a Better Sheets member sends me a 1 minute loom with a question and I can record a reply in a minute or two. Saves them hours of googling.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Launch by Jeff Walker was awesome. It helped me break into a new market. It helped me figure out what workshop I could do. Mainly because it taught me how to ask my own members what they wanted to know. Instead of coming up with it myself and launching it, I launched it with Jeff Walker’s email method and came up with a workshop on the fly. It was awesome. Added a great new revenue generating product to my existing product.
What is your favorite quote?
This quote doesn’t just talk about creativity in the abstract, it also gives a great actionable step. It shares the insight of the “taste gap” and then gives you a way to close the taste gap. I love this quote.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
― Ira Glass
- Make stuff
- Learn to make stuff by making stuff
- Know your stuff isn’t good, but keep making it.
- Find people who want the stuff you make, and charge them for it.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.