The Idea Dude


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

10 things you should know about starting a Web 2.0 company

Guy Kawasaki has recently been partial to constructing lists of 10. Here's my list for anyone wanting to know about starting a Web 2.0 company.

  • #1: Make sure you pick the right people because chances there will be less than 5 of you to start with, you'll need 200% from each one and you'll spending more time with them than anyone else in your entire life including spouse and children.
  • #2: Chill out but don't sell out. While you lit the candle, you need others to feed the fire. It's important to get many perspectives to your idea rather than guard it jealously or be afraid someone may steal it or break it down. On the hand, make sure you take every comment with a pinch of salt. By definition, a visionary sees things that others don't. You just hope that they will see it sometime since you're as good as your last customer.
  • #3: Fail fast. Or build 10 and throw away 9. If you got it right the first time, you probably took too long to get there which means that it may be irrelevant by the time you reveal. If you embrace failure and the possibility of failure, it's never so bad when it happens and it will happen.
  • #4: Find outside advisors who don't work with you daily. When you're working on the same thing 24 hours a day, everything looks like nail because you have a hammer. You need others to tell you that pink is not the color for your website or that no-one can figure out what that icon you spent 6 hours on really means.
  • #5: Plan for resistance. For every one that loves you and your idea, 100 others will tell you it sucks. You're goal is to find the people who you can please most of the time, that is your customer base.
  • #6: Don't forget the value equation. i.e. The value must be sufficiently larger than the change you are asking people to make otherwise you will never get adoption. In a world where people have very little time, even making people sign in only after receiving a confirmation email from you could cost 20-40% of your potential traffic because they don't bother waiting a day or even a couple of minutes.
  • #7: Don't ship code before you leave work or before the weekend. Murphy's Law says it will be break when you are not looking.
  • #8: Share the blame. It's irrelevant which side of the boat you're sitting if you're collectively sinking. It's more important to figure how to fix it.
  • #9: Don't be afraid. Everyday you will read about a new competitor, a new product that rivals yours. There's usually enough to go around. If people were afraid of Microsoft, there would be no Linux or Firefox. Focus on what value you bring to your community. Yep, think of your customers as a community not as a cash cow.
  • #10: Make sure this is your passion. While you could justify working for companies you hated because they paid you lots of money, chances are you're living on a shoestring in your Web 2.0 gig. You're definitely not doing it for the money, not yet anyway. If Friday is your manic day because you have so much you still want to do, you're passionate, if for you it's a manic Monday, this isn't what you really want to do. Get out while you can!

BTW: Make sure you're always in beta...people don't hate you so much when you screw up!


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