BootStrapping During a Recession and Mistakes We Make
I’ve known Rajesh Setty for many years and I’ve followed his wisdom for just as long. He started writing as a child of 9 and published his first book at the young age of 13.
I interviewed Raj the first time when he released his book Beyond Code. You’ll find the five days of our conversation introduced here.
This year I had the honor and the pleasure of being part of launching his new book UpBeat Now! at our SOBCon09 conference in Chicago. I’m more than delighted to share it here with you now.
This is the first part of the conversation we had …
Hi Raj, I understand the story of the book is an upbeat story in itself, would you tell the tale now?
Thanks Liz for the opportunity to have this conversation.
I had an opportunity to build my first technology startup during the previous recession. It was not easy. The easiest way to define what was happening then was that “nobody was buying anything from anyone and everybody was trying selling something to everyone.” If we loved bad news, then we were in luck. There was bad news everyday – on the TV, in the newspapers, on the radio and there was generally some bad news shared during any interaction with anyone – online or offline.
We learned a lot during that period as the only way to have survived running a “bootstrapped” startup was to stay Upbeat. So I wrote most of it during that journey but by the time I completed the book, that recession was over. So I packed it up and and kept it aside. I didn’t have to wait for long as there was a another recession very soon. I unpacked the book, updated it and got it published.
What is “the trap” and how do you see it among the people who are trying to start a business online?
One of the traps in the context of being Upbeat is to be gripped by engaging in discussions about topics on which you have very little control on. Some of these may be important topics (such as social security, economy, foreign policy etc.) but endlessly talking about them when you have “unfinished” projects is a trap.
When it comes to online businesses, I see several traps.
1. Thinking if they can do it, we can do it.
People get excited when they see an online businesses and think that “technically” they can also do what has been done. However, when you look at an online business you only see the “tip of the iceberg.” There are so many things that are not easy to see when you see an online business. It will be a miracle if someone can copy an online business just by watching it from outside.
2. Thinking if you build it, they will come.
Yes that may happen for a VERY small percentage of the companies. In MOST cases, you not only have to build, you have to drag people who will reluctantly (kicking and screaming) come to check out your site.
3. Thinking if people talk about their online business, they will succeed.
Getting press alone may not take an online business far. Unless the customers love the business AND are willing to pay for it, nothing significant will happen.
4. Chasing exceptions as if they are rules
Often people keep quoting YouTube,Twitter, Flickr etc which are successes in their own way. While you may be able to replicate the technology piece with your skills, it is not easy to copy their successes.
5. Using the wrong metrics
Rather than using revenues and profits as metrics, it is easy to get carried away by eyeballs, pageviews, downloads etc. Ultimately without revenues and profits, you will need a miracle to succeed.
Raj had so much interesting information that we’ll be sharing the rest on Friday. Tune in then to hear about the disciplines that online businesses can use to get on an upbeat path to success!
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!