I’ve been doing WordPress consulting for a few years now but always on the lookout for building an amazing product on the side. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do this yet.
You see, I don’t want to build just any kind of product, I want to build a high adoption SaaS. I’m fascinated by the possibilities of these kind of products because they are available from any computer, any device, any time and because developers can push new code to customers several times a day making the solution more of a service than a software.
Ever since I started hearing about startups I’ve felt compelled to pursue such a venture and whenever I try to steer from it for a few months I start to feel anxious or bored and find myself drifting away thinking that what I really should be doing is following my dream.
So why don’t I do it? What’s my excuse? I haven’t been able to find the time / discipline to work on building a product while simultaneously working on projects for clients – I’ve found this approach to be much harder than I thought initially and at least for me very unlikely to ever work (it hasn’t worked so far so it’s not likely to work in the future). I got to a point with the team where we reserved a day a week to work on it but as soon as deadlines from clients approached we gave in and lost focus.
So where do I go from where? It seems a good time for a change in strategy. I’ll have to think further about this. Working solely on building a product in the next months is a possibility. Of course at least a month or two will need to be serious research to validate the idea in the real world. Although I’ll have trouble doing that, I think I’ve at least learned that bit so far.
In a room with 100 people if we ask for a handstand what do you reckon will be the results?
- how many will be able to do a handstand right away?
- how many will be able to do a handstand after varying levels of practice, time and guidance?
- how many will never be able to do a handstand because they will drop out or won’t commit to enough practicing, dieting, exercising, etc.?
Do you think the same can be applied to entrepreneurship?
Whenever I’m with someone that wants to start a new business venture there are a few questions I like to ask that help me assess if the person has what it takes to make it succeed:
1. How are you involved with the industry you are working on?
If you’re going to open a business your chances of succeeding will increase if you know the industry already. For example my first startup project was on the real estate industry which I didn’t know at all and didn’t have any contacts. I now have a WordPress business which I both love and know the community and that helps immensely.
2. What are you passionate about in the business?
If you don’t love what you’re going to do there is very little chance of succeeding so I always ask this. Passion is what keeps you moving in those tuff times and what makes you run the extra mile to do something great.
3. What is the value for the user? Is it something that is going to help a better world?
Is there a clear value proposition? If not I rather not take a project because I don’t believe in it myself. Also it better be something that will improve the world, there are too many fart iPhone apps already.
4. Is it a problem that you experienced yourself?
If you never experienced the problem yourself you’ll have to do a lot of head banging until you understand the pain you’re solving. Instead of trying to solve a problem we don’t know about I find that working on problems I know highly increase the chances of succeeding.
How about you? How do you differentiate between a great idea/team and one that will likely never achieve its goals? Of course there is no magic formula but in my experience people that know how to answer these questions have much higher chances.
Can’t recommend this book enough. Besides being written by a Portuguese and a co-worker/friend/entrepreneur I helped choosing a few of the startups interviewed and with Balsamiq, TweetDeck, Shazam etc this is an invaluable resource. With so many great european startups featured you can’t help asking yourself the question: couldn’t it be me?
I’m determined to finish 2011 strong.
The year is closing on us pretty fast but there is still plenty of time to get things done!
“Ramping Up” Instead Of “Winding Down”
Even though we’re hitting close to the holidays when most people think things are slow, we are ramping up our efforts to finish in big style.