2013 has been an interesting year for me and for my company Metroplots.com. For most of you who don’t know of Metroplots, we are a real estate website with a lot of stuff happening and planned. In the last year, things that could not have possibly gone wrong has gone wrong. Murphy at his best, I think. But, I must say that this is the steep learning curve pundits talk about when they advise people on starting companies. Here’s a few lessons that I have learnt in running Metroplots so far. (Some might be specific to an internet startup and some might be problems you will face if you do this in India. Might not be applicable in other parts of the world. )
1) Recruit well. Go through many rounds before selecting that one person. Look for skills, passion, ethics, background, intent and the fit he/she will have with your current team. Make it thorough.
2) SEO optimization is no joke. Have it under control. The rules keep changing and you need to be on top of it.
3) Raise funds to scale. Don’t raise funds to experiment.
4) When you start a company, understand very well that it is your company, your kid. Not anyone else’s. Many advices come from everywhere, sometimes from important people. But, if you are not convinced, don’t do it.
5) Never forget your passion. Sometimes, things like valuation and targets can take you away from your passion. You might end up making changes to the business model to achieve these superficial goals. Stay your course. Stick to your passion.
6) Raising funds is not the goal. Making a successful and long lasting company is. During a bad time, sit down and analyze what’s wrong. Make a calculated decision to get the business out of the problem. And 10/10 times, raising funds is not the solution.
7) Bootstrap…bootstrap…bootstrap. Spending extra bucks is not good even for a billion dollar company. Only spend on something that can change the bottomline. Every 3 months, look at your expenses and see for yourself if you are spending on anything that has absolutely little or no impact on your bottom line.
8) Know what everyone does. I read somewhere delegation is a good thing. In India, so far, I am convinced that delegation is not a good thing. Consider yourself very lucky if you have a colleague who is as invested in the vision of the company as you are. It’s very rare. If you do have them, make sure you discuss company’s next steps with them. They are special. Some of the best ideas of successful companies have come from their key employees.
9) Go mobile.
10) Product management involves 5 phases a) Detailed planning b) execution/development c) testing and big fixing until everything is fixed d) upload e) Analyse user behavior
11) Design – keep it simple. Don’t complicate it. The more effort you put into design, more problems you will have. First of all, that cost of designing is unnecessary. Then, you have loading issues and speed issues because your page has so much design in it. Just keep it real simple. Users want clarity. They don’t want beautiful designs on a website.
12) Work continuously. Take a break when your mind is cluttered. Even then, look for inspirations. You never know what can inspire you. Forget long vacations or leave of absences.
If you follow all this and become a big success, gimme all your money 😛