13 May Startup-Rules Addendum
Startup Rules Revisited
Since I wrote my last blog entry, Start-up Rules For Real People, I have had some meetings, some epiphanies, some conincidences that were quite ironic, that I have to write an addendum for those who read my first article about these start-up rules. Basically almost every other day, somebody talks with me about an internet start-up idea. Most are internal to my own start-ups and I can handle about 2 new start-up discussions a week. This brings me to how many times I repeated myself in the past 2 weeks, going over these rules.
Business Love, Get Emotionally Detached Now!
For instance, the rule about not being emotionally attached to your web project. I refer to this as “Love”. Just like romantic love, people fall in love with an idea and can not emotionally detach from the idea. One way of looking at this, is you have to separate the technology behind an internet startup and the business model. There has to be a firewall between these two areas of your business, or business plan. Once you have lost your emotional attachment (often to a technology) and can look at the market clearly or with real evidence, you can make a decision on your business model. Only a few brilliant (often 19-21 year olds) will get this right, right out the gate.
Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks Sometimes
Most of us are actually too familiar with old patterns of working. This is kind of like the Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks idea. But it is actually the opposite. You can teach an old dog new tricks, but that requires the old dog letting down their guard. When I worked for abc distributing, before they sold off the farm, we used to refer this to the dr (MBA) asking the patient (exec) to take his shirt off for the examination, and he flatly would refuse, but yet would ask for a diagnosis… Huh.
Finding The Hidden Trends
The concept of looking for new trends came up a few times, because that is where you recognize the opportunities in life. You have to be a detective about finding new trends. Looking at the front page of the new york times or wall street journal will give you clues, because honestly they are better at it, than your local palm beach post, but by the time it reaches the front of the paper, the trend is usually too late to join, but maybe not too late. Trends have to be identified and measured for their location in the sequence of the trend. A good example is the “Auction Mania” trend of 1999. I remember it well, like it was Tulipmania. The first couple of auction sites like Ebay hit it big and the trend was growing. Suddenly there were a 100 want to be Ebay sites and 10,000 so called Ebay hanger-oners (none of them will own up to it now). These hanger-oners are like band groupies. They jump on the band wagon, often too late, and just flounder about telling you how they are making money off of it. This was obviously satirized in the 40 year old virgin. I will probably write a whole blog entry about just these trend manias and how to find them, join them and avoid them. All depends on the timing of the trend.
This Time Is Different, Or Not!
I have had several conversations about the concept of time, time management, “what am I doing with my life”, commute time, time spent on high level things, low level things and everything in between. It is important to “value your time”. Hopefully the people I mentioned this to, understand it. Well, don’t really think anybody misunderstands this. Somehow they just ignor it, and go about their lives, throwing hours under the bus, when they could better use it. Not to say that I am saying what is a better use of our time, but our ability to get things done and efficiency depends on the better use. So, when I was stuck at jobs where there was literally nothing to do over the years, I had something always, always learning, getting my MBA, my certificate, my knowledge, my score, and always being the life time learner. So it is not a bad idea to keep a good read on your desk for this reason.
Anyway, those are my comments since writing the first group of rules. If you want to read them again, go to New Start-up Rules For Real People here.