Thursday, December 14, 2006

Entrepreneurship Advice

I seem to be getting a lot of blog spam lately. Perhaps I should be flattered. I moderate all comments so they do not get through.

One of my readers sent me the following email (sorry for the late reply - I have been busy):

"First off I just want you to know all I'm asking for is advice, which is the most valuable thing I can get right now.

I have been working in a field of interest for many years now as a hobby. I've always had many very good ideas but I never had the resources to make them happen. I always figured it was because I was too young. Now I'm older, I have a job and I'm plagued with the same problem. I'll have a great idea but it will usually be out of my range because I either do not have the technical ability, the funding or resources to make the idea I vision happen.

My most recent plan evolved from my experience running similar websites, I found there was an un-fulfilled need. I decided to start judging the need for what I was offering so I did my homework and contacted over 130 other similar sites. Within a day I had 20 sites interested in what I had to offer. That's great and all but those 20 sites generate about 6 times the traffic I could handle. So once again I'm in the same position. I do not have the resources I need to properly execute my idea.

My basic question, what is the best route to take when you have a great ideal that is more then you can handle.

A little more about me, I'm 23 years old, I have been running web sites and involved in the industry for around 6 years. I have a good paying job in another industry which makes it even more difficult to make the "jump".

Thank you for your time.

My response:

1 - There is never a right time. Entrepreneurship involves risk. This means yous sometimes need to just jump. This said - I always say "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap" so I always look at the downside.

2 - It is very powerful to be under resourced. It will make you more resourceful and likely allow you to run a leaner more competitive business.

3 - I like to choose opportunities that are the right size for me now. This is a beautiful thing for business - there is always a right size business opportunity for everyone at every size. When you are starting from your basement, you can take a $100,000 opportunity and do well. Bigger companies cannot do this so will leave you alone.

4 - When the opportunity is too big for me, I consider narrowing my scope. Instead of being the biggest seller of bar code equipment, be the bigger in bar code for warehouses etc.

5 - Consider partnering. it is better to have 10% of something that is worth something than 100% of an idea.

6 - Ideas are a dime a dozen. It is the implementation that counts. How often do you see a resturant with a line outside and the one next to it goes bankrupt. All the time. Ideas are easy.

7 - I know a lot of people who almost start businesses. They are not successful. To steal from nike - "Just do it". And do it now. Time is the enemy of ideas and business. Someone else has the same idea. It is the one who perfects it that wins.

Hope that helps.


At 12:22 AM, Blogger steven edward streight said...

Don't be flattered by spam. It means nothing. It doesn't mean you're popular or a significant blogger, though you are.

It means the non-human bogus comment posting programs have discovered your URL.

Spambots just spider the web and seek vulnerable blogs to smear their junk on.

Most of the spam comments lead to malicious, spyware attaching sites, porn, con artists, and other criminal or immoral sites.

When bloggers allow spam to appear on their blogs, and when these bloggers are slow or lazy about deleting the spam, it shows they don't care about their readers.

It's easy to prevent spam comments from making it to our blogs, as you already know.

At 12:24 AM, Blogger Jim Estill said...

I was teasing about being flattered. Spam is a pain but not too much of a problem.

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What great gems of insights in your response to this young "idea" person. I only wish to amplify your first advice "fail often, fail fast, fail cheap". Especially the last one. Short of analysis and thinking (which is too bothersome and just a waste of time for many young people), if you "just do it", at least make sure that you don't loose your shirt if you fail. Having said that, perhaps I would add one more item to your list: "Know when to quit". Decide in advance how much you are willing to loose and stop throwing good money after bad. Is it the same as "fail cheap"? Perhaps.

At 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great ideas are nearly worthless. Implementation and financing are two of the Achilles Heels that kill most great ideas.

People can sit around, seeing niches and unmet needs, and think of a solution, but that's of almost no value, without the other aspects that make an idea succeed.

At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jim,

Particularly liked this post, as it hits close to home. Great advice.

At 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Entrepreneurship is all about risks, and is a race against time as well. Anytime can be the "right time", as long as the entrepreneur wants to make things happen.

I agree with alex on not "just do it" and "know when to quit". The point is that the entrepreneur also has to see the bigger picture, analyze the risks, and take "calculated risks" - ones that don't pull the entrepreneur so hard on the ground the moment they fall.


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