Well, that sucked.
I disconnected StartupToDo.com this afternoon. It was time – past time. If you’ve ever had to put a member of your family who happens to be a cat or dog to sleep, you have a good sense of how I feel right about now. Not that bad, but still.
I emailed the few remaining subscribers, made arrangements for the remains (data) to be interred on another server, and let them in on my new project. Then I sat down to write this post.
The rest of this post is a catharsis of sorts; these are three lessons I paid a very high price for. Heed them.
- The single biggest mistake I made was not listening to the criticisms of prospective and actual customers. From the private beta on, way too many people said the same thing – good content, but too complicated. If I had let myself hear the doubt in their voices, taken seriously the “I don’t understand” emails, I would not have coded myself into a corner, stuck with a confusing mess of features. It hurts to listen, it’s easy to rationalize your way around listening, but believe me, they are right, you are wrong, because they choose what to spend their time, money and attention, not you.
- Speaking of money, have enough money in the bank to get you through. For me “through” meant becoming a profitable microISV; for you it might mean landing your first equity investment. Each their own. But trying to make real your software idea while holding down either a day job or fulltime freelancing is a hellish monkey to have on your back.
- You have to work on your startup every single day, even if it’s only for a few minutes a day. Let me explain that one. Having written 5 books, the first and the last were the easiest to actually write because near as I could, I wrote at least a page or two every single day. Working on what you are creating every single day has (at least) 4 huge benefits:
- You can pick up where you left off in less time, with fewer false starts.
- There’s less opportunity for Resistance in all its guises to make mischief.
- You get to market faster.
- You build momentum.
I made plenty of other mistakes, but those were the big three. I hope you’ll take them heart so you won’t end up having to write you own ‘lessons learned’ post.