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I have been doing a lot of reading lately about online startups and I thought I should share it with 1WD’s readers. Quite a lot of startups from two years ago have now taken off and made it into the mainstream, like Pinterest (Mar 2010), Codecademy (Aug 2011), Instagram (Oct 2010), and a lot more. You’d be surprised how many of your favorite online services started from just a tiny idea and now are million dollar ideas.
Do you have a startup idea that you think will definitely be your way to stardom?
What are the requirements? Should you spend thousands of dollars? How about looking for a partner?
In this post you will learn:
So, are you ready? Show me your war faces!
For our self-employed readers, I bet you have asked yourself this question before. Why step into the darkness where everything’s messy and where big monsters live? The answer you probably ended up with is: “I want to be free, I want to have a steady stream of income, and I don’t want a 9-5 job!” Or you’re just adventurous!
In any case, we are at a point in time where everything is possible. Gone were the days when only the rich can start their own business! Right now, with the proper skills, you can start your own online business.
Below are some of the recurring themes of startups today.
Popular tech startup ideas:
You may have noticed that the items above are what most of us are currently using. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Yammer, Basecamp, Instagram (which falls under social media extension), WordPress theme companies like Woothemes and ElegantThemes (and a hundred more), Treehouse, and a thousand others. Now, why are these successful? It’s because they solve a problem that people have, and it has become their full-time job.
But let’s take a step back and start small. Before anything else, you will need to find an idea.
The problem with finding a unique idea can be summed up in five words: “It is probably not unique”. If you have thought of it, chances are there are hundreds of people who have thought of it first, and more will follow. But that shouldn’t stop you from pushing forward!
First thing you need to do is find something that people naturally flock towards.
Note: I am oversimplifying things here, but you will definitely understand what I mean!
Add those four together and you’ll end up with Instagram.
So why not Pin the photos in Boards and share them for the world to see? Read more about Pinterest’s co-founder Ben Silbermann.
The list of successful startups goes on, but the idea is always the same: find something that people love and offer a better way of doing it for them. Boom!
If you have been one of our avid readers, then you should have heard of LabZip by now. For those who have no idea what it is yet, here’s the basic idea behind it:
Good thing there is LabZip!
LabZip is a collaboration between 1WD and LabSecrets!
Reminder: It’s not required that you create something entirely new. The trick here is that you can actually find a popular device or service that millions of people use and hop on the wagon. Just like what Instagram did with existing social media networks.
Okay, by now you should have a clearer understanding of what a good startup idea is.
In a nutshell, DO NOT:
If your idea is to create a Facebook killer then, yes, it is bonkers. Many have tried, and many have fallen, and those who resisted failure used Facebook to their advantage. The same is true for those services and companies that were not prepared to adapt as quickly as they needed to, or just didn’t have the cash to pivot like MySpace and Multiply and Friendster.
Here’s MY checklist:
If your answer to most of the questions is yes, then your idea might need a bit more time to develop.
When making an important decision you should sleep on it first before making the final decision. It helps. Don’t rush things, or things will rush to you and crush you breathless. Ask your most brutally honest friend if they’d use your application or service, or ask someone in your field if they’d want to use it. Don’t ask your mother or your girlfriend/wife. This is important because most of the time you will be so excited about your idea that you’ll already think it’s great, when in fact it may not be.
It is also important that you take part in the development process. It’s your idea, you know it better than anyone else.
Try not to let your own excitement cloud your perspective about your idea. We all have ideas that we think are great until we realize they’re not. It’s ok to let an idea go if it’s not as good as you originally thought it was.
Before building your idea, you hopefully will answer yes to these questions:
If your answer is yes, then strike while the iron is hot and prepare for some sleepless nights spent building and coding.
But do not worry if your answer to number 3 is no. There are still ways to build your idea, although you will need someone to do it for you. Or you can learn how to code yourself!
Should you look for a co-founder? Well, that’s an option too, finding a co-founder who can code. However, the friction between co-founders, especially when one can code and the other can’t, might get intense as the project progresses. You don’t want to be the “idle founder”, right? So it’s better if you start learning how to code right now, or be resourceful enough to find tools that will help you build your dream service/application.
Of course you just can’t waltz in and out of your text editor and office then manage to come up with the perfect startup. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. There are communities out there, both inhabited by dreamers like you and those who have been successful (or are getting there) that you can join. There are also tools that can help you boost your startup, so you won’t have to worry about anything. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that you don’t even need to reach for your wallet!
Having a good list of connections is important, especially when you’re betting a lot. While under development, be sure to find online communities out there to join. Ask questions, provide feedback, and read inspiring success stories. This is important to keep your fire burning!
1. Can I do it on my own?
Yes. But it will be a daunting task since you will be taking the roles of designer, developer, marketer, and everything else.
2. Do I need thousands of dollars to actually build my startup?
No, not really. In the Philippines we have this website called Sulit.com.ph, more like Craigslist. It was founded in 2008, and right now it receives over 150 million visitors monthly seeking things to buy and sell. The founder built it during his free time, from scratch, without prior knowledge of programming. His expenses through the development process to launch were less then $100 for the domain registration and hosting. Right now he is earning 7 figures monthly.
3. Should I do it?
Yes. In fact, I believe that everybody should at least try. “Do or do not, there is no try,” said Yoda. You either do it and fail or not do it and never know what the outcome could have been!
Sit for a while after reading this and think about whether or not you’re ready to make great changes in your life. Are you ready to take a risk, spend several hours a week to learn new skills, and join online and offline communities to actually steer your life the way you really want it to go?
I wrote this because I am brewing something amazing together with friends, which will hopefully launch several months from now. Yes, my partners and I are taking it slow since we still have our full-time jobs. But don’t you worry, I won’t leave 1WD! In fact, I’m pretty sure the two will integrate well! I’ll just leave it at that, without giving away too much information, since we’re still in the initial phase of things.
So, what about you? Do you have a good business idea? Or have you started with it? Post in the comments and let’s discuss!
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Rean is the editor of 1stwebdesigner. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development. Rean also writes at Knowledge Salad, a blog filled with weird and interesting facts. One of his goals is to help his fellow Filipinos earn money online, to help them build a career out of working from home, just like what he has been doing for years now.