Life itself is only a vision – a dream…RSS
After running my own internet startup for the past three years, I’ve learned many lessons and now I feel confident enough to share my past experiences with my fellow entrepreneurs.
A few of my lessons have been the result of my successes, others have been the result of countless errors. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle that consists of too much nonsense that makes it’s hard to separate the good from the bad.
Not everything I say will fit your exact situation, and I myself have followed the wrong advice many times over. Actually, this is my first piece of advice for you: trust the voice. If something doesn’t feel right to you, don’t follow it because some egocentric, narcissistic a-hole said it.
Chances are that advice is for something that is probably outdated by now and won’t even work in today’s ever-changing global environment. You should follow advice that is relevant and from the people who are walking their talk. Listening to someone with years of sales experience in the 90s won’t cut it for a web startup in 2011.
It’ll be ugly at first
Most internet startups fail to launch on time because of their insecurities related to a sluggish design and the demand to improve the overall feel of it. You have to accept the fact that your first design, your first anything will be a rough draft. A couple of months down the road, you’re going to feel embarrassed that you even launched your site with that horrible color scheme or irritating UI.
However, what you design shouldn’t even matter in the first place. You have to focus all of your attention on your visitors and customers so you make such a huge impact that they’ll do anything to use your product to satisfy their needs. When you’re in a car accident, you don’t care if the ambulance or the fire department comes first.
If weak usability or boring visual effects send visitors the other way, then you haven’t even chipped away at the problem. People will figure you out eventually. They will do everything they can to use your product if they NEED to. I’m just saying a few obstacles are OK for the time being, but never launching out of fear is the lowest of lows.
Live your brand
I usually see most startup advice is catered to companies that are already live and it doesn’t even apply to entrepreneurs who are racking their brains trying to bring about an idea. If you’re still in your first few stages, everything you’re doing must be about going live. Even if you don’t have solid market data, in my experience most startups wither away before they even have any sort of momentum at all.
Non-techies never hire the right developers to build a foundation to work off of, and true techies are wrapped up in all the features and lose sight of any opportunities that lay in their way. As a new startup, your number one goal is to get your product out there.
During this phase, there’s no elbow room for anyone who doesn’t pull their own weight. Your people better close their laptops and start testing, drafting a few designs, and writing marketing material for the web. Going live is a big part of the entire process, and your entire team must be in line with this critical goal.
Watch your prey
The key to success is to build a product that meets any or all of your needs. The majority of successful startups are founded by people who are affected by the same problem they are trying to solve. Facebook, Twitter, and even Wholesaleforum are some examples of people developing something that solves their own problems.
As a startup, you have to watch your customers like an owl. You must know exactly who they are, what they make a year, what they love, what they hate, what they do online, and what type of phone they own… You have to know more about them than they know themselves so you’re always a billion steps ahead of them.