My friend asked my advice on a software business he is helping launch. He wanted me to check out their web site and offer my opinion. This morning I ripped through a few cups of coffee and did what he asked. Apparently the caffeine took over my brain and fingertips, because my response was the below ridiculously long text message. Since I know he’s reading this post I’ll confess this is an edited version for clarity – having re-read my rapid-fire response, I see it was at times nonsensical. Anyway, hopefully there is something in here you enjoy…
“1. You have good content but it gets a little long. People bail quickly on reading content unless its very crisp and to the point. Brevity is key.
2. Be very authentic and honest. Under-promise while over-delivering. Many businesses do the opposite these days, and people know that. And they are tired of it. Be a breath of fresh air in a world of b.s.
3. I think your “Our Story” page will be important as well. People like stories (again, if they are clearly authentic). Make it clear y’all are a small team. Don’t hide from that – highlight it! It’s to your advantage IMO that you aren’t some VC-backed firm with a technology that will apparently save the world and make us all happy like many software companies seem to want us to believe, but rather you are just a small team of a few people trying to help solve a common business problem with a simple technology.
Now keep in mind all of this comes without me asking millions of questions that would be necessary to ask for me to offer anything potentially more meaningful than this off-the-cuff, shoot-from-the-hip advice. So therefore I may be offering stupid advice. In addition to that, my opinion is just an opinion, and everybody has an opinion, and the more opinions you get the more susceptible to groupthink you will be. And groupthink is bad. It leads to mediocrity. I would suggest instead to just make decisions and try stuff to see what works and adjust as you go, because nobody has all of the facts and insight that you have have so their opinions are probably not really that useful in the end. Plus, asking lots of people for opinions is sometimes just a way to avoid starting. Just start. You’ll figure it out.
We tried all sorts of stuff at Schedulefly early on from exhibiting at trade shows, to partnerships, to wearing ties and flying to L.A. to present to a large chain. It took us several years to figure out who we are, or, maybe I should say, who we AREN’T, so while we have very clear awareness of what works for us now, we damn sure didn’t early on. We had to try stuff and see what worked, as well as be honest with ourselves about whether we wanted to do certain things. And that was critical. I think we were pretty good early on at saying “this doesn’t feel right so lets stop doing it because it’s not what turns us on, and if we do stuff like trade shows – which we hate doing – then we’ll burn out and not enjoy this business.” So we stopped doing a half-ass job of the things we didn’t enjoy and weren’t good at, and focused all of our energy on the things we enjoy and are good at.
Take the long view and do it your way vs. following convention or how others say you should do it. That will be the difference between success and happiness or stress and frustration.
Sorry for sending the longest text anybody has ever sent.”
On another note, Luke is cranking out our next video, called “the pastry chef.” It’s a new format for us, focused on one staff member’s story and his passion for his work. You’ll see it here within a week.