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Startup metrics, Prototyping, Scaling, Developing, Marketing, and Funding

I have heard people say it just takes a good idea followed by a lot of hands to make a successful company. This can’t be further from the truth because building a thriving and desirable startup is really tough.

Sure, it starts with an idea (hopefully one that is based on solving a problem in the real world market and not just something that is ‘cool’). Very soon after, you need to start considering a million things:

Chances are that in the beginning it’s just you (and maybe another person) bootstrapping all of this. The reality is, most of these components are absolutely necessary, and it can seem incredibly overwhelming. The fact that many founders skip a lot of these steps is one of the main reasons startups go bust so early (take for example that many forgo the financial forecasting, and thus, have no true sense of their revenue and profitability potential). The contrary can be said as well, that because some entrepreneurs focus too much on these areas they never really get off the ground.

You need to have thought out your business well and you need to successfully launch and continue to deliver. But how can one or two people do all of this? The answer is that you need to stay balanced and not get too focused into any particular stage or topic, and you need to reach out and discover what other successful entrepreneurs have done.

  • Is it really necessary that your pitch includes a 50-page business plan instead of a concise but meaningful 10-page one?
  • Do you really need to understand every detail about how to erect a functional specification, or can a short set of mockup diagrams be sufficient?
  • Do you really need to spend a lot of time meeting with marketing consultants, or should you just hire a firm to take it over?
  • How can you fund your business, and once it’s funded, how do you manage your cash flow?
  • What do I really need in my business plan? Isn’t that overkill?

These are questions that are difficult to answer, and there is no single answer that works for everyone. You could get caught up in years of researching each of these fields if you’re not careful (this is why eventually businesses hire people that specialize!). Thankfully, there are conferences and training programs that can be really helpful. There are conferences that help you network and hone in on your skills for a piece of technology that you may use (i.e. RailsConf, Oracle OpenWorld, WWDC) and then there are conferences that help you with starting a business or marketing it (i.e. START!, Seed, TechCrunch50, BlogWorld Expo).

For example, coming up on October 2nd, 2008, is a one-day conference called STARTonomics in San Francisco that could help you figure out what pieces are critical to your startup, and which ones really aren’t. The sessions are led by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Here’s a little glimpse of some of the sessions that will be taking place during this intense day:

  • Welcome to Startonomics & Startup Metrics for Pirates (AARRR!)
    Overview of conference agenda + Intro to Startonomics: how to create simple, actionable metrics to help startups make better decisions in product development & marketing.
  • Product Development 101: Designing & Prototyping the DNA of a Killer App
    What does it take to plan, research, and develop a great web 2.0 application? Learn tips & best practices for setting the right process, goals, and metrics for your startup.
  • Marrying Design & Development: a Match made in Heaven, not Hell
    Learn about the basic fundamentals of web design, and find out how developers and designers can work together to create great websites and applications.
  • Creating & Implementing a Web 2.0 Marketing Plan
    How to design and implement an online marketing plan for acquiring users from multiple marketing channels, how to prioritize & mix channels based on stage of startup growth.
  • Revenue: The Internet Wants to Be Free, but You Need to Get Paid
    Learn how to generate revenue using a variety of business models & strategies including advertising, digital goods, subscriptions, lead generation, & e-commerce.
  • Funding Wisdom: What I Wish I Knew
    Forget the school of hard knocks – this is your chance to hear what 3 successful startup executives learned about the funding process, including timing considerations, types of funding, term sheets and working with investors.
  • View the full list here.

This is a must-attend conference for startups working on Internet-based products! Beyond general session topics, you will be able to connect with other startups and successful entrepreneurs who can help you answer the really tough questions.


I’ll be there, soaking it all up. After the conference, I’ll write up a summary of some of the things I’ve learned from others that I think is most important for a successful startup!

27 thoughts on “Startup metrics, Prototyping, Scaling, Developing, Marketing, and Funding

  1. Thanks for the advice! The conference sounds like it should be interesting. If only I had had the valuable info presented here, I would have saved myself a lot of time, money, and embarrassment from when I foolishly ventured into a world of what I thought would be “easy” money.

  2. Sounds like a great opportunity.

    Well defined plans are critical to business success. Generating revenue and traffic has been one of my primary problems.

    I am just starting to focus on my business and I appreciate the helpful links that you provided. I can not attend this conference but look forward to attending an industry conference in the next six months.

    I will be back to check out your learnings from this conference!

  3. i think the article touched all the basic requirements for a startup for an internet based product in Web 2.0. I have seen the rise of so many internet products and some have not succeeded too. All the bootstrapping requirements that you mention for a startup can indeed get overwhelming, hence i feel a firm that specializes should be hired. I wish i could attend this, since i will be starting a product very soon on the net. I think the wisdom that will be flowing from the entrepreneurs should be sufficient to help you out if you are stuck in any of the parameters mentioned above.

  4. Interesting post…I work for a marketing company that specializes in start-ups. While vision is certainly the foundation of many small businesses, we find ourselves in the position of being the bad guy – telling the client that certain things will not work. Marketing plans and business plans help start-ups focus on what it is they want to do and give potential partners and investors something to base their decisions on. One client we had been working with for for 4 years suddenly wanted to change track completely. How do you tell someone that although you admire their genius, starting from scratch before you finish your first project shows how unstable your company is?

  5. interesting and informative but somewhat dry article. It holds truth but i think you over enphasise some things that are just costly and not needed at startup on small compnaies in paticuler on E-companies . Musch of what you mention is autamated to the point that a single or pair of people can easily manage thse things . With some effort and research most can be done for free or very cheaply online.

  6. I have to tell you that you are 100% on target here. Great reading, and great advice! I have a pretty solid business history, and a friend of mine started his own business a few years ago. I offered him much of the same advice, and watched as his startup failed when he did none of this. He had no idea where to even start, and despite my best efforts, he floundered.

  7. I can imagine it would be very overwhelming starting a company. Resources are key. Seminars, workshops, talking to people who have been there/done that will surely set you up for success and show you what to avoid and what is a must-do. I think staying motivated is important too. Keeping your eye on the prize and not getting bogged down in one area of the process if you are struggling in it.

  8. Nice article for people who are starting up a new business. It is helpful to people who do not wish to get stuck with problems in the new business. I will be looking forward to your summary on the Startonomics conference.

  9. I wanted to comment on your idea of starting a new business. While the idea and the labor is the driving force, I think first and foremost along with Ideas and labor, you need MONEY! Money should come before anything else, business plans, tax plans, getting the papers. All of that should not come before having the cash flow of another hand. If you don’t have that hand to drop you some money, then you can’t start a business. Personally, I’m not a true believer in researching, I like to get things done right then and there. But overall I do agree with your mindset on how starting a business should come about.

  10. You are so right about a start up being overwhelming. My husband and I are in the process of a start up with a business partner and it is everyone’s first. The pros and cons of a business plan and several other factors have crossed my mind; although the other two haven’t given it much thought. I’ve seriously thought about attending some kind of seminar in my area or hooking up with the local SBA chapter. Your article makes me realize I should make some calls on Monday.

  11. Wonderful article for the people who start a new business. This idea helps to success their small business. Nice analysis about trends and the business flow in the global marketplace. Its good when author add internet related matters more. I will be back to check out your learning’s from this conference!

  12. I grew up with my parents who were trying to farm and run a small business selling the product. I have seen the ups and downs and near busts of a small business. The main point I can stress here is being ORGANIZED is huge. Don’t buy something for your business and toss the receipt! You need that later to figure your profits, to do your taxes, etc. Those little receipts for 2 or 3 dollars here and there can eventually effect your profit immensely and end up costing you. Also, make sure that you have a great base of clients/customers. Word of mouth can be the absolute best advertisement in the world. It can also be the worst. Put yourself out there! This was a good article and covered a lot of bases of starting a small business.

  13. Need to protect intellectual property when you start (or have started an on-going) a business. Do this inexpensively and quickly through Tran & Associates (www.tranassoc.com) who specializes in working with start-ups and who understands need to be cost-effective. This firm itself is a new breed of law firms called virtual service providers which use technology to improve workflow and be efficient. The firm uses advanced technology from a software company called HugeIdea (www.hugeidea.com). The technology allows the lawyers to collaborate with clients, to check their works through automated diagnostics and tools, and be more efficient, thus they can charge less due to reduced hours, while still be happy with their billing rate. Lawyers avoid the nitty gritty work and focus on what they enjoy – preparing patent applications, resulting in better lifestyle. Clients get better work product and real-time communication due to the HugeIdea technology and the high –touch from Tran & Associates.

  14. A very useful article indeed. I am in the process of a dotcom start-up, and there are tons of things to consider each day! Your article was very relevant, and serves as a reminder to me to cover everything, yet not stay focused on one thing for too long. The latter is something I am guilty of doing, as I seem to agonize endlessly on the finances, while I know that there is only so much I can do, and other things need equal attention. Your information on the conferences was very informative. I never really thought about attending one. However, I am based in India, and won’t be able to attend any of these. I’ll certainly come back here though, to read your report on STARTonomics .

  15. Very informative article. I have toyed around with the idea of starting my own business, and you have given me a lot of food for thought. I agree that a lot of businesses do not get off the ground because they are stuck in the development phase. The conference you mentioned sounds like a great learning opportunity. I will be checking back in with you to see what you learned and what you can teach us.

  16. The ideas and plans specified is very informative. The details are motivating and what I feel is that any one starting a business or an enterprise should begin it in the proper channel there is no set path or a specific path in business that makes it successful the quality called a business knack is what is required to make it successful. The idea of attending seminars and getting information regarding business startups and tips for successful hosting is good but the ultimate job of running is entrusted to the concerned owners they have to run the business successful taking their own decisions taking instant decision.

  17. I am starting a company right now which is online jobs for internet people in my network. I find this news very interesting and I discovered new insights/ideas for starting-up successful business plans. That’s right, in any business, planning is really very important. The bulleted helpful questions are very interesting in introducing the upcoming conference. A good promotional style to get the reader’s attention. I wish I could attend and draw more knowledge about the specific topics to update me.

  18. Great article. I can not stress enough the importance of taking your business seriously and taking the time to develop a business plan, cash flow plan, marketing plan, etc. A road map is integral, even if you’re a one person company. Another suggestion I would make is making sure you have a narrow focus for your business at the start. As you gain reputation, contacts, capital and employees, you can expand your services and products accordingly, but in the beginning your focus should be narrow so you have the resources and talent to fulfill it perfectly.

  19. I found this to be informative a I am trying to start my own business on the web. I know I don’t have all the start-up. I just thought I needed a good idea and some web presence and I should be on my way. I started it in July and haven’t had a customer yet.If I lived closer to attend the conference. I should probably look into something similar near me.

  20. I never realized how many things there are to consider when looking at getting a business off the ground. There are so many details and I think you are showing people that it is not as simple as you may think. I love the idea of the conference for learning from those who have done. It is no longer the days of coming up with an idea and just sharing it. This was a good post for me to read as I am thinking of starting my own service business.

  21. You have written such an wonderful post that it deserves to be be included into academic curriculum.I firmly believe that right initiative at the right time brings desirable result.Sometimes great idea fails to click due to lack of foresight and improper execution.I hope considerable emphasis would be given as as well to this aspect in the forthcoming conference.Any consultant who charge a bomb dwells upon the issues you have raised but they are not affordable to everyone.I would urge upon you to please simplify your idea further and elaborate them so that a lay person who is not that tech savvy and has not attended any business school can benefit from this too.

  22. Well I can say that this is the right post in the right time. I work as an IT desktop support technician. I worked for a lot of companies but I constantly changed jobs. Now i want to start a business of my own with another partner. I know my job but I’m a novice in finance and business and so is my partner. We have a good idea that is bound to work in my hometown. We want to open a computer store that will have sale, computer and peripheral service, company network administration and software. The main thing is that we don’t have enough funds to start the business so we have to take a loan from the bank. Even then we’ll have enough money to last us about 3-4 months, so we really need a good business plan because of the lack of funds. Anyway the risk is big but with your article and others I’m confident that it will work out. Thanks again.

  23. This article has been very helpful for me! My boyfriend and I recently started our own business. It’s kind of a side business but we are planning that this will allow us to quit our regular day jobs within the next few years and still have money coming in. As of now, we are putting all of our money into it, but we don’t really have a plan. Your article made me realize how important a business plan is to make sure that a company really makes it, and doesn’t run out of money before it even gets off of the ground!! I will definitely be sitting down soon and writing one up. And I guess I was putting it off because I figured we could do that when we get more established. But your article made me realize I need to do it now so there WILL be a time when we’re established! Thank you so much for that GREAT article!!! I will definitely be looking for your other posts!

  24. A great picture of the issues facing small business start ups! So many things need to be done, but generally you do NOT have a lot of hands, and you do have an overwhelming number of planning items to set up and execute. The conference sounds like a great place to help you sort out the items that are a priority to YOUR particular business, and keep you from getting bogged down in the details.

  25. I couldn’t agree more that starting a business is a quite a challenging thing to do. There really is a lot of information that people thinking about building a business should know because it truly isn’t as simple as it seems, and in order to hit the ground running, they must always be prepared for any unexpected events or obstacles that could be the nail in the coffin for their business. The conference that you mentioned in your post seems like it will cover many important topics for those who are thinking about, or are already in the process of starting their own business need to know. I think that this will be a great experience for them and believe that they’ll surely take away a lot of knowledge by going to the event.

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