Mistakes So Far

I’ve spent the last five weeks on Codesnipers writing about some of the mistakes I made when starting my company, and during the development and marketing of my products. I doubt they’ll be the last, and I’m sure I’ve already made a few more that I just haven’t identified yet, but I’m done for now.

So, to round off this batch (and in case you missed any), I decided to do a quick rundown of the mistakes series so far.

#1: Thinking your idea needs to be kept secret.

I have no idea why I thought it was important to keep my ideas secret until they were ready. When I had free time during the initial development phase, I should have been blogging about my upcoming product. I should have been on every relevant forum, participating, learning, and then mentioning my product whenever possible. I should have been connecting with my potential users, taking their feedback to improve the product and using my enthusiasm to make them an eventual customer. Read on...

Keith took some time out from his busy schedule to challenge Mistake #1, so you might want to read that too.

#2: Trying to be all things to all people.

As a Micro ISV, you can’t hope to solve all of the world’s problems. If you’re going to develop (and market) a good product with limited resources, in a reasonable timeframe, you need to be highly focused. You can focus on a small problem that many people have, or you can focus on a range of problems that a small group of people have, but either way, you have to find your target and hit it right on the nose. Read on...

#3: Over-thinking design and branding.

Looking back at the months leading up to, and immediately after, the formation of my company, I really can’t believe how important all this stuff seemed. It was as if a good corporate logo, or a good company name, was going to make or break us. We had meeting after meeting to discuss alternatives, we spent money getting business cards and letterheads printed, while we did virtually nothing to bring in customers or build products. Read on...

#4: Being “professional”.

This one was all about embracing “personal branding”, and about letting some of your personality into your business. Ever since I started out, it’s been “We” or “our”, rather than “I” or “my”, even my about pages have been bland and generic corporate mush. This supposed professionalism sucks all the life out of text, and the result is unlikely to inspire or excite anyone. My personality won’t win over everyone who visits my site, but it might work on some. Read on...

#5: Worrying about success.

When you’re just starting out as a Micro ISV, too much success can be a frightening thought. You might not have the resources to manage all the demand, your admin and support procedures might not be able to cope, you might have to work much harder than you already do. At some point you might start making plans and optimising your procedures to minimise the impact that success will have. But you can’t plan for every eventuality, and you shouldn’t try to. There will be certain things you know you have to do, but it’s too easy to let the planning bug run riot, and for your product idea to lose momentum. Read on...

Writing about these mistakes has been a great experience; it’s given me a much clearer perspective on where I am right now, and where I’m heading. I hope they’ve at least given someone else something to think about. I would have liked to write a series on running a successful Micro ISV, rather than focusing on what not to do, but you can only write what you know! If I can overcome these mistakes, maybe in a few more years I’ll be one of the successful people telling you what you should be doing....