I’ve been running BestTechie since 2003, however, it was only somewhat recently that I took the leap to work on BestTechie full-time. When I decided to work on BestTechie as my full-time job, I knew what I was getting myself into. Because of my experience with working on the site for years prior to the decision to do it full-time, and seeing the kind of successes we had then, I had an idea of how much work it would require (in short: a lot) in order to make it a major success.
While we’re no way near my ultimate goals, we are making progress. And now that I’m five months into the decision, I wanted to reflect a little and share five things I’ve learned about building a business, with the hope that it can help someone else along the way.
“No” Isn’t The End of The World
It’s true, the worst thing anyone can say to you is “No.” However, don’t let that small two letter word stop you. There are always other opportunities available, and it’s also worth remembering that just because it’s “no” this time, doesn’t mean it’ll be “no” next time.
Take the time to reach out to anyone and everyone you want to network with, explain what you’re working on and why you would like to meet up for coffee or whatever, many times people are willing to meet and/or speak with you.
I recently took a trip out to San Francisco, and prior to my trip I reached out to several companies and people (even ones I had never spoken to before), while not everyone agreed to meet with me, there were definitely more people who said “yes,” than “no.”
Hiring Can Be Tough
If you have never really hired anyone before, the whole process can be somewhat daunting. You need to write a job description, job requirements, post the job listing, then sort through resumes and cover letters, and then finally pick the ones you like best and reach out to those people.
And here’s something I didn’t expect, people who submit resumes don’t always reply when you reach out. So don’t let that discourage you. Additionally, do not be discouraged if you make an offer to someone and they don’t accept it. They just saved you a lot of trouble down the road, because obviously they don’t believe in and/or see what you’re trying to build.
When it comes to making offers to people, the best piece of advice I can give is to go with your gut. You know what you’re looking to accomplish and you (should) know what kind of people that will require, if you think you find those people, jump on the opportunity to grab them.
Just Keep Fighting
You’re going to have sucky days. Days in which you don’t have the website traffic you want, your app/ebook downloads are down, you get a bad review, someone leaves you a nasty comment or email, your code isn’t working, your website breaks, a TV segment falls through, etc. It could be anything. The important thing is that you just keep fighting through the bad days.
And remember, when you have a great day, expect that a bad day could be just around the corner, but don’t let it get you down. Building a business is like a roller coaster ride.
For example, I was recently asked to be on Sky News’ morning program to talk about Twitter being hacked, which would have been great exposure for me and my company, unfortunately though the opportunity fell through roughly an hour prior to me going on air. Obviously, I was upset, but in the end, I was able to get myself added to Sky News’ tech contributor list, which will hopefully turn into future opportunities.
Sometimes You Need to Step Away
This one took me a while to fully grasp. You’re going to want to work your ass off, but sometimes its best to step away. Find something that you can do where your mind is completely off anything business related. For me, it’s watching TV. I’ve found a number of great TV shows I really enjoy and watching them takes my mind off everything, because the show does all the thinking for me.
I find that watching TV really relaxes me and when I get back to work, I have a better perspective on whatever it is that I’m doing.
It’s super important that you don’t always think about your work or business. The reason for that is because your brain really does a need a break from time to time and when it’s constantly consumed by work, you lose a lot of your creativity and/or the ability to think of new innovative ideas.
It Takes Time to Get Going
It takes time to ramp up your business, so be patient. You don’t need to be an overnight success, nor should you want to be. If you become an overnight success before you’re ready for prime time, it just brings on all sorts of problems. For example, If the site had suddenly become super popular overnight, people would have most likely become disappointed and left the community, if we weren’t providing them with the content they would expect. And if I was asked to show off the site in a presentation or if there were screenshots of it on TV, it wouldn’t be ideal since the design was going to change soon.
So as you can see, in my case, making sure we had the new design live as well as having additional writers for the site were two key things I needed to make sure I had done before starting the next stage of my plan.
Ideally, you want to start seeing success indicators once you’ve reached a point with your business plan/product where you would be happy to have people see what you’re working on. And remember, the best businesses aren’t the ones who became overnight hits, but rather, the ones who ramped up slowly and built sustainable businesses.