So you Think you can be an Internet Entrepreneur?
Creating a successful startup is incredibly difficult. It may well be one of the most satisfying activities known to man, but the chances of failure are high. Aspiring founders should increase their chance of success by following a few simple rules:
If you can’t accept risk, don’t even start – do you have a vision and are you prepared to follow it through to the bitter end? Creating an internet startup will involve risk and will also involve hard work. Have no doubt about it. It is not a soft option. It requires 100% commitment over an extended period.
Don’t try and do it all yourself – founders are often talented people who have multiple skills and a desire to try everything. They also often have a tendency to want to avoid sharing the rewards of their success. This is a big mistake. Nearly all great internet startups were formed by teams, so you must know how to delegate, take advice and conduct meetings for a start. Investors know this and will not fund single founder startups.
Follow established startup processes – lean startup methodologies have provided a framework for success. It is not the only process but it does avoid inventing the wheel with every new startup. The process also avoids launching products that no-one wants and provides a way of limiting capital risk to bite sized pieces.
Don’t get bigger, get better – in the early days, obsess about product. Keep making it better. Ensure that even a small number of people can’t do without it. Don’t scale until you are certain that you have product/market fit. This comes a lot later than most founders will acknowledge. The temptation is to hype the product through PR and social media before product/market fit has been achieved. This simply results in a spike in engagement that cannot be sustained.
Don’t be fooled by vanity metrics – new members or site visits may well be meaningless. Work out which metrics are crucial to your startup and focus all efforts on achieving them. The pirate metrics are a useful guide.
Accept advice wherever you can get it – but remember no-one knows your startup like you do. You will have to listen to a range of opinions and then select which to adopt. You are the boss!
So have fun creating a startup. Don’t do it because you simply think it cool to be a startup entrepreneur. Do it because you want to solve a problem or wish to create something new and of value. Go in with your eyes open and anticipate risk. Follow established rules but don’t be afraid to innovate. Be prepared to fail fast rather than spend years chasing impossible dreams. Follow-on startups are often the best.