Reading The Startup Tea Leaves

As I slowly (I mean slowly) move into my new startup venture called Take It National, I have been thinking about a series of events that have happened over the past year. Its these series of events that have lead me to this startup. So, I tell people that this startup was not our choice, but rather like a car broadsiding us as we were just sailing along.

What does “Reading The Startup Tea Leaves” Mean?

I have to say that there really is a pattern to startups in terms of success and/or failure and this is all in the data… You have to look through the real information, not the ones in your mind that can confuse you because you love an idea to death and are willing to go down with the ship on it, but rather the ideas that bring on real customers, real growth and real income.

How Do We Get There?

So, like a person who can read tea leaves, you have to sift through your tests and find out if there really is a market for your product or service. For a direct selling service like creating a gas station, there is no question of success, especially if there is a gas station across the street or 2 or 3 gas stations. This is an early sign of success, even if you have not taken action.

Other Signs Of Possible Success

So our current startup comes from tests we were not even aware of. In fact, until we had a company say to us, hey how are you doing this, taking your event businesses national? We really did not know there was a product there. First they asked, and then we presented. When we started presenting, we got lots of feedback about wanting our service in their backend. So, from this we began the process of producing a product. No hocus pocus or risk taking involved. This was simply listening and sorting through the info and taking a risk.

Astrologers Are Not Right, Most Of The Time

So, how do you get it right? It is not easy, because just one customer can say that there is a problem. Is that enough to start a business? Not really. You need more customers, more analysis, more pro formas and a complete analysis of branding and the market to really understand the opportunity. Finally you take a chance, but at this point you have done your homework, have a few potential customers and are ready to go.

Testing Is Everything

You can get lucky. But you can also just work hard and learn. No need to throw away everything with a potential loss. Early on test, test in ways you have not thought of. Call customers, ask their opinion. Seek more advice from them. Get things started and get your product out there. I have been through this a dozen times and have made my mistakes, but I think eventually I will get it right.

WordPress 3.0 Upgrade & WordPress Multi-Site

If you are a WordPress junkie like me, you will be taking a look at the WordPress 3.0 release which came out today. The only big deal about it, is the ability to turn a simple WordPress install into a Multi-Site WordPress Install (or WordPress MU).

My initial running of the install did not have any problems, and if anything I am noticing that WP 3.0 is running faster than it used to, at least on WordPress 2.9.2, along with some improvement in the UI look and feel that is really not too noticeable. In fact, if you are not interested in the Multi-Site part of this install, you would actually not experience much of anything. The basic upgrade like previous versions of WordPress went smoothly and I did not notice anything too different.

The WordPress 3.0 Multi-Site

If you have no interest in having a thousand blogs on one install, then this is not too important to you. What is Multi-Site? It is the ability to generate as many WordPress sites on one account as you can put on there. This is even true of a shared environment. There are several issues with how do the implementation, for instance if you are www.strategicpoints.com, you can easily offer bob.strategicpoints.com and dan.strategicpoints.com with their own blog, but if you want to add www.gudema.com to that site, well, you can do it, but you will have to use .htaccess and mod rewrite to get it to work properly…

Who wants to offer dozens of blogs to people?

Not me. I just want all my blogs to be under one install, so I don’t have to upgrade a dozen sites. Like for instance, I will be upgrading this install of wordpress under strategicpoints.com when I already did gudema.com. This is just a pain in the butt. Well, they have just made it easier.

Where is it?

If you did the WordPress 3.0 upgrade/install and you are not seeing anything different, you are not alone. There is no remnant of WordPress Multi-Site (previously WordPress MU) anywhere, until you place this special line into the wp-config.php file:

define(‘WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE’, true);

After that, suddenly things start to change on the site. You will notice, when you log back into WordPress, under Tools there is a new menu item called Network. This Network controls the setting up of WordPress Multi-Site. And then there are a series of things you will need to add to the wp-config.php in addition to get to work. You can grab these from the Network page. Also found a couple of good links out there about this already such as http://wptheming.com/2010/03/wordpress-3-0-enable-network/. All of this is old news to the WordPress Dev community apparently. I am just catching up as I and thousands, (I mean thousands and thousands or millions upgrade).

How does WordPress Multi-Site it work?

It appears that there are shared resources, new kinds of users and websites. Once you have set everything up you can create these users and websites. This means you have added to your wp-config.php a whole bunch of stuff you found in the Tools/Network page, switched the information in your .htaccess file and relogged onto WordPress, and wholla you will find a new menu item called Super Admin.

Word Press Super Admin

Super Admin seems to be the place where all the Multi-Site Action happens. This is a new menu item on the top of the WordPress menu with Multi-Site turned on. This is where you configure your multi-site capabilities and create new sites. One of the unique features of this multi-site system is the ability to allow your customers to create their own blog sites on the fly. This means that every version of WP has the ability to be a generator of blog sites. Nice. Also you have the ability to create a library of themes, that your users can choose from. Also, not sure of this one yet, but wouldn’t it be nice to not have to add plugins to all of your blog sites and keep them all in one place. Not sure if this works this way, but maybe the WordPress gods will make it so.

One Click Updates to Plugins, Themes, etc.

Also noticed that the download and update feature of plugins went really smooth under 3.0. Not sure if I am just imagining this, but it looks like your ability to update an individual plugin with a new version just got easier.

So that is it for now. Not much time for WordPress for me these days as I head into the world of startups again…