3 Ways To Screw Up A Startup

Now, be honest, how many of you have done one (or all) of these?

  1. Just come up with an awesome new idea in the shower, code it and launch it. You have no idea if anyone is interested in your idea – you have no idea if the idea is any good – but since you’re a kick ass coder and you have some spare time between gigs – you just code it and get it out there…
  2. You launch your idea and then sit back and wait for immediate, intense success. You have delusions that you’ll be as successful as Instagram, day one. On day two you start ceaselessly tweeting and facebooking all of your friends trying to get them to use your product. No one visits your website or even responds to your posts. Some of your friends even defriend you – wondering why they friended you in the first place.
  3. After having your site up for a week – you shut the site down – calling it a massive failure and tell yourself that you are never going to put yourself through that torture again.

There are plenty of really, really great ideas. Of course, there are only so many ideas which people are really interested in. I think some famous talking head on Fox News once said that people aren’t really all that interested in politics – sex, love, money, food are all way more important – so if your shower idea doesn’t address one of those up front – are you really sure that its got legs? Maybe no one but you cares about solving this problem. Not a basis for a breakout business.

If you build it – they won’t come. As someone I respect once said – The Universe Doesn’t Give A Flying F**k About You – even though coming up with the idea and coding the idea SEEM like 99% of the battle – its really only 1% – getting the word out about your product is really 99% of the battle. And just bugging your Twitter followers and Facebook friends won’t usually cut it – unless your friends list includes some top tech bloggers – even then they’ve been inundated with stuff. Think actors and producers in Hollywood having scripts thrown at them. These guys get it all the time.

And finally – it always takes longer than you think. Instant, overnight success is very rare – despite the hype you hear. The above actually happened to me. My partner at the time told me to take the site down a week – yup a week – after launch – because it wasn’t getting any traction. Of course, we hadn’t done anything to help bring the site traction during that period either – except for maybe a tweet and a Facebook post or two.