When I joined my first job, work was on full swing to launch 99acres.com . I was part of the team which did all the technical work and the site was launched one month after I joined. Thereafter, I launched Sukip.com in Jan 2007 and Saleraja.com in Aug 2007. After moving to Bangalore, I worked with Jivox.com for 18 months. Recently I started PickaFight.in, this time as a non-profit initiative. In all these endeavors over the last six years, I got a good exposure to starting up and scaling up websites, both from a technical, product and business point of view.
There have been many lessons along the way, most of them learned the hard way. Here are seven important points I would like to share with one and all who might be interested in starting a web based business. Update – Here are eight more lessons which I wrote as a follow up article
1. Passion in what you are doing
Always do what you are passionate about. If you are starting a new website based business, it will keep you awake at nights and make you work on weekends. So it is very important that it is something you are really excited about.
In my first job, my boss gave me a valuable lesson, “In a startup, you will always have thousand things to do but not the resources to do all of them. The key is to prioritize among them and then keep your focus on doing the selected tasks to the best”. I have never forgotten this. You will always have more than your plate can hold. So prioritize, prioritize and prioritize.
3. Release regularly
We launched sukip.com after 6 months of development, and then SaleRaja.com was launched after just 11 days of coding. Release early, release often is the idea. Rather than planning and building a Taj Mahal after months or years of work, start with a basic model and then make changes based on market feedback. Because the customer is the best judge of your product. Period.
4. Understand technology driving your product
As a founder, you might not do all the coding for your product, but it is very important to understand the technology behind it. By doing so, you will be better prepared to perform your job when you step in the shoes of your sales guy or the product manager. In short, it will allow you to make better business decisions.
5. Work like a family
Starting a company is like raising a baby, and hence it is very important the atmosphere is very cordial and like a family. People need to trust each other, care for each other and treat the work as their baby. This family like work culture could be the difference between success and failure later on.
6. Hire people smarter than you or who fill your gaps
You might be smart, talented and hard working, but nobody can know or do everything. Hence it becomes very important to hire people smarter or more talented than you are, or who are talented in the areas where you have a skill gap. Many times people don’t do this for personal and ego reasons, but this is a valuable lesson which I have learned the hard way.
7. Work with people who share your value system
Although your work might not require you to deal with your moral and ethical values very often, it is better to work with people who share your value system. In times of crises, or in times of extreme excitement and growth, these value systems can sometimes prevent us from making big mistakes. At the same time, a difference in the value system can cause rift between the team as both parties might consider their beliefs as right and blame the other party for not understanding.