The most important word in the sentence “I’m starting a tech business” is business.
- Convincing talented people to join you is sales
- Securing a business bank account is sales
- Getting third-party providers to give you services at a decent rate is sales
- Getting press and PR coverage is sales
- Convincing your team of your vision is sales
- Getting users to use your product is sales
- Getting customers to pay for your product is sales
- Securing investment from angel investors or VC funds is sales
If you’re great at tech, but not so great at sales – you need to work with someone who is.
Flappy Bird, the infuriatingly-difficult mobile game that went from obscurity to the number one free game on iOS, taking $50,000 per day in ad revenue, is no more:
I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down. I cannot take this anymore.
— Dong Nguyen (@dongatory) February 8, 2014
Its creator Dong Nguyen, tired of the relentless attention the game brought him, has removed Flappy Bird from the App Store.
I couldn’t help but feel that, if he had better advisors around him, someone would have advised that he start a company – and hire some people.
Apart from making money, what’s the purpose of a company?
It could be:
- To provide a ‘protective shell’ to operate within
- To provide tools and resources to its team
- To provide legal protection
- To provide a structure in which teams can operate effectively
All so that talented people can do their best work, without worrying about this stuff.
If Mr Dong had hired some talented people to look after marketing, PR, support, finances, ad networks, etc – he could get back to making games and trying out ideas – instead of feeling overwhelmed with the burden of doing all this stuff himself.
I wrote an article for .net magazine:
Ideas. They’re what millionaires, even billionaires, are made of, right? Imagine you could go back in time and tell your 2004-self to build and launch Facebook – you’d be a billionaire now for sure.
Except it doesn’t work like that at all.
Read it here: http://www.netmagazine.com/opinions/open-source-your-ideas
Your product is great, ‘best in class’, cutting edge.
Your customer service is exceptional, you’re a ‘customer-focused business’.
You have a strong technology roadmap, great features and killer developers working on it all.
There’s one thing that’s more important to the success or failure of a startup business than any of these things: let’s call it hustle.
By that I mean:
- Your ability to sign that licensing deal, or
- get the right ad network, or
- get the best rate on your payment gateway,
- hire the right developer,
- blag the coverage on the right blog, and
- a thousand things like these…
These things matter more.
At the end of the day, really: it’s all about hustle.
In planning a new project, I’ve found myself trying this ‘thought experiment’ virtually every day:
Imagine the (minimum viable) product was already built – What now?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the challenge of ‘The Build’ when really that’s just a part of the business.
If you want to build a business around a web/tech product, then there’s a whole load more you need to consider – beyond the product itself.