Saturday, November 17, 2007

If you plan a startup, it pays to read some advice

Here’s my advice for professionals coming from completely different industries who think they can achieve fame and fortune on the Internet: think very hard about your idea and business model; educate yourself thoroughly about Web 2.0 trends and concepts; do your homework on competitors; find a team of technically skilled, motivated, and smart individuals who love your idea; and figure out just what you bring to the table (and don’t rely on your marketing skills; they won’t be needed until later).
Then, and only then, think about switching industries - you’ll save yourself, and your potential investors, a lot of trouble. Source: Techcrunch

This is good, that people want to do startups, but much like the ramp up to being a real estate agent or mortgage broker before the subprime melt down was a way to make money, chasing after tech dollars can be equally as rewarding and strikingly unsatisfying if you do not make it, do not get the people you are thinking, and just spending your life chasing the lastest trend and fashion is really not the way to go through a career life.

Most folks in technology today will say do something you love to do, and do it better than anyone else. The stark realities to blogging are that people are fickle, you might have 600 readers today, and you might have 97 tomorrow. Don’t count those adsense dollars before they hatch.

Being in a startup is hard, long hours, few rewards, lose track of friends and family, forget about holidays and long lunch breaks, let alone meeting people while you are in the basement coding. While it is possible to start a new company for less than 12,000 dollars, the reality is that anyone starting a company today needs to look at the longer range picture. If there is a recession looming, then figure people are not going to want to buy your app, you had better be able to make it off advertising. And after years of blogging, being in technology, without readers clicking on ads, frankly, adsense is not a good source of primary, secondary or even tertiary income for anyone. Unless you live in a country where you can live on a dollar a day or less.

Startups fail, they flame out because they cannot get an audience, and even experienced people like those good folks over at JudysBook in Seattle know this. The reality is that if you want to do a startup, it has to be a good idea, that brings something neat to the table for users, consumers, business, or some niche that is already underserved or not represented. The startup is easy compared to original thinking. It is fine to chase dollars flitting from idea to idea, it is harder to actually make it.
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