Thursday, July 24, 2008

Why new website startups fail?

I've been under an enormous amount of self induced stress lately due to the fact that my startup business still isn't online. This is due to a number of contributing factors of course, but it got me thinking about some of the reasons why it's taken so long.

Manage Scope: Trying to do to much too soon

It would be my guess that a large number of failed business (particularly online ventures) are guilty of this one. If nothing else this experience has taught me that you need ensure your initial offering constitutes a realistic amount of work. You can then build on that by making small incremental improvements adding features and new offerings to your business over time with much less effort than trying to do it all in one go.

By all means, have a grand all encompassing vision, in fact I'd almost consider this a prerequisite, but break it down into realistic bite size deliverables. To make a software analogy; you want to take a rapid iterative development approach rather than attempt a huge waterfall model project.

It doesn't have to be perfect

There is always a tendency with geeks (myself included) to try and engineer the best, most flexible, and high performance solution first time round. Unfortunately this flies in the face of getting a new business off the ground. As a new start up you have limited time and money and you can't afford to waste either trying to come up with the "ultimate solution".

Any coder worth their salt is going to try and anticipate performance bottle necks and design and develop their software to avoid potential pitfalls. However you've got to keep your focus on the goal of delivery at all times and not get trapped in refining and improving your product without delivering. It doesn't matter if you have the best website in the world if no-one can use it because it isn't online yet!

Don't forget the business

Project planning, it's not fun and certainly not something most geeks enjoy. Unfortunately it is absolutely necessary to make your new business a success. You need to have a clear idea of what your deliverables and deadlines are, and what your outstanding tasks are at all times. There isn't much point getting to the end of development, having built an outstanding best of breed product and suddenly realising you don't have a company set up, bank accounts, tax registration, contracts, lawyers, accountants and all the other mundane things that are prerequisites to running a business.

Are you trying to get a tech startup off the ground? Do you have any advice for other would be entrepreneurs?

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