June 19th, 2005
Mark Fletcher the CEO of BlogLines writes Stealth Start-Ups Suck :
Stealth mode is when a company is operating in secret for some length of time before launching their product or service. In many industries, creating a new product or service takes significant time and effort. During this time, being in stealth mode may make a lot of sense. But creating a new web service is not rocket science and does not take a lot of time or money. My rule of thumb is that it should take no more than 3 months to go from conception to launch of a new web service. And that’s being generous. I’m speaking from experience here. I developed the first version of ONElist over a period of 3 months, and that was while working a full-time job. I developed the first version of Bloglines in 3 months. By myself. It can be done. And I suck at it! Just ask all the engineers who have had to deal with my code.
I agree with all his points. Read it all.
I started going down the stealth route, but quickly dumped the idea for much the same reasons he says. With Ruby on Rails it is even quicker to do stuff, so there is no excuse to not get your app out in front of people.
June 14th, 2005
We’ve all heard the stories in colourful business magazines about people starting their multimillion dollar companies using nothing more than their credit cards as funding.
It sounds like a cool idea and all and it could probably be used as a gamble if you are betting on receiving a large amount of cashflow straight away. However the monthly burn rate you will have if you dont have oodles of cashflow straight away is one of those things to remove the focus of the business that I just can not recommend.
My mantra is as always focus on the business. Having an extra $1000 more burnrate monthly as you might get if you hit the cards, makes it so much more difficult to hit break even. This means you start worrying about money and not on building your business.
It’s a very similar anti pattern to the perpetual business plan anti pattern. It is always easier to survive or seek funding if your business is going albeit small. But it is almost impossible to do either no matter how good your business plan if you don’t focus on your business.
June 6th, 2005
More Bootstrap Anti Patterns:
In the last startup where I worked, we halted all my development work to work on various revisions of our business plan a total of 3 times. This worked out to about 4 months of lost time.
In my post mortem of the now failed venture, I believe that focusing on business plans, possible partnerships, lawyers, governments etc. and not on getting ourselves to a live production state (read in business) was what killed it.
The business plan was something that became of outmust importance anytime there was someone waiving a potential sizable check infront of us. The fact of the matter though was that the business plan was nothing more than an unreadable sales document.
We never used it in daily life, which is what it should be.
Most people go out and buy or download business plan templates. There are millions of them out there. They all claim to be tried and tested. The only problem is that they are very time consuming and will never reflect a dynamic growing business.
I think it is much better to create a freeform Business Plan Backpack and ofcourse use Stake It Out to help glue it an other sites together. Here you have a way of exchanging real ideas and maintaining it easily.
Dont worry about top-down, bottom-up marketing numbers, nor outlining the “team” and how you magically will have 135,000 signed up users in 9 months. It doesn’t matter it is all made up anyway. Do not waste your time here.
June 3rd, 2005
Spending all your time doing tech support for your own work environment
This one has inflicted me a lot in the past. Since I found the solution I am no longer troubled by it. I have classified various versions of this:
Geeks like me are natural tinkerers. With Linux and Windows we are constantly tempted to install the latest version of software, drivers, kernels etc. (This is also known as emergitis with Gentoo fanatics).
The trouble is that it is very easy to get tempted down this path and all to often things go wrong. I have in the past lost many days of bootstrap time doing this.
My solution in the end was to buy a Powerbook. It is hard for me to bring the mac down. I’m sure if given enough free time I can do it, but I feel like I can just focus on my work. If you are a diehard linux guy Ubuntu has many of the same “It just works” features that OSX has.
Techsupportis Virii Windus
I have heard so much about how windows users spend so much time repairing damage from virus and spyware attacks.
Save your self a lot of energy and do one of the following:
- If you are a windows techie, lock the machine down once and for all
- If you are a geek linux or mac
- If you are neither of the above, just get a Mac. They aren’t as expensive as they used to be.
If you are a writer, write!. If you are a programmer, code! Do what you need to do and dont get distracted by all the technical noise that surrounds us all.
More of these here
June 3rd, 2005
I want to create a series of small posts describing common Anti Patterns that can cause problems with attempting to start your own micro venture. The chief observation post for these are my own mirror, although I will also mention some that I have observed repeatedly elsewhere.