Choose your database structure wisely, cause it’s a bitch to convert it later.
“.. almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” -Steve Jobs
This quote from the late, great, Steve Jobs perfectly represents my thoughts on failure. For those of you who don’t know, or haven’t heard the news yet, my latest startup, kahub, turned out to be a failure. It was not because it was a bad idea, per-se, it failed for, as I see it, 2 main reasons:
1) Impenetrable affinity
We positioned ourselves as a social news service. What we didn’t realize was peoples unclenching need to switch. People, today at least, are split into two camps with how they consume their news. You have the techies, where their news comes from sites such as reddit, and the normals, where they just go to Yahoo! news or something of that nature to quickly get updated. There really isn’t a need for a product for a third group. This third group doesn’t have a large enough market dominance to actually make the service useful.
I firmly believe that if we launched right after the Digg v4 fiasco, we’d be in a much better place than we are today. Those disenfranchised digg users just switched to reddit, and today, the cost to change is far larger than the benefit of staying.
We planned all these things, which I think would get us to moderate market share. Really innovative stuff, but the one thing you can’t create with algorithms and data sets is a group of extremely passionate users. That’s what reddit has. That’s what will keep them at market dominance for the next 5 years or so, or until they have a massive scandal a-la MySpace, which forces people to leave.
Some say that failure is bad. According to a Harvard Business School study, those that failed, have statistically the same probability of success as someone who has never started a company before. To this, I say, fail fast, fail small. You are going to fail eventually. I guarantee it. Might as well figure this out earlier rather than later, and save yourself some money which you can redirect to other projects. Fail small is mostly for your own mental health. Trust me, there’s nothing more disheartening than having a ton of users, all of which have rejected your product.
I equate this to auditioning for American Idol versus something like America’s Got Talent.
America’s Got Talent
Which one would you rather be?
So, fail fast, fail small.
Furthermore, be honest with yourself. Call it for what it is. If no one is using your product, or no one likes your product. You have failed. End of story. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. The best thing you can do is comfort failure head on and call it for what it is and don’t spend time sugar coating things.