Maintaining simplicity on your product is one of the most challenging aspects of a startup. Every feature you add is a feature that will modify your application, needing support and maintenance in the future.
These new features usually have more hidden costs than we think. And most times they lead to other new features compromising the usability of the site.
In our case we developed a very powerful referral and virality tool, always trying to mantain its simplicity and the minimum amount of features so our clients can do everything by themselves easily.
The problem we are facing now, is that our goal is to make a sticky product so we can benefit from a subscription model instead of one time fees.
With our current features our clients have incredible results, but they don’t stick to the product.
To solve this we’ve been brainstorming and thinking which features or tweaks we can make. But the problem is that we came up with lots of ideas and we don’t know which one to choose.
We can send an email asking our clients which one they like best (but I don’t think we will have lots of feedback). Or we can think the features as little MVPs with minimum goals and remove them if they don’t work out.
Has any of you tried the second approach? I like it, but I don’t really know how to do it without messing with the code or sacrifice our simplicity.
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Good decisions usually aren’t made on a 30 minute meeting.They need some thought. To iterate over possibilities and ideas. Some crazy, some dumb, and some tiny ideas. Let them grow on their own and turn into something interesting.
Meetings are great for brainstorming anyway, where ideas are born. Saying things directly out of your mind can uncover some other people ideas from the back of their brain.
But ideas shouldn’t be raised there. They need a better place, with more time and attention.
That’s why asynchronous workflows are good for ideas and decisions. Writing things makes you read and think about it before sharing it with others. Which leads to a more detailed and expressive insight.
You need to translate your thought to plain text. No gestures, no voice tones, no external help other than text and maybe an image.
Having to be explicit helps to see some other wise hidden details. And that’s good, as it can lead to new ideas and possibilities.
Give thought a chance. Don’t just take decisions for the sake of it, and let ideas grow on their own.
Retaining focus is, perhaps, one of the toughest challenges any startup faces. Every company at its earliest stages relies on a small group of people (most usually its founders, and sometimes one or two employees) who can’t rely in any larger structure to organize their time.
Besides, the startup life will almost inevitably turn anyone, even the most specialized professional, into a multitasker. Having to deal with a wide series of responsibilities that range from coding the next great feature of your product, to providing customer support and dealing with the annoying bank executive who won’t extend your credit card limit to, sometimes, even sweeping the floor, can be truly challenging. Not so much because of the different talents each of these tasks demand (which you ultimately learn) but for the challenge of organising your time into completing them all.
Before venturing into the startup life, I worked for a few of years as a radio reporter in a couple of rather popular shows in Buenos Aires. The job was tons of fun, and it gave me the possibility to work with some great journalists, and to meet and interview a wide variety of characters: from Senators and Mayors, to activists, celebrities and even all kinds of crazy people on the street. Being on the interviewer side, I almost never stopped to think about how people I was interviewing felt, most of them first timers, who didn’t have any experience talking on the media. And when I did, it was usually because I was taking advantage of the person’s rawness, either to spice up the interview or to make the other person look bad (yeah, journalists do that all the time).
So it wasn’t until I crossed the aisle and had to face a microphone for the first time as an interviewee when I realized how challenging explaining your startup and answering questions about it and its market can be. I thought having some experience in the field would make it super simple. But it turns out it didn’t. So today, having the perspective of someone who’s been on both sides, I’d like to offer my advice to those who, like my partners and I, have to regularly face journalists.
You are quietly staring at your computer’s screen. A drop of sweat runs through your forehead as your feelings range from anxiety to the most absolute fear. Your finger stands still on the middle of your touchpad. You don’t dare to move it, as the slightest gesture could set in motion a chain of events you are not entirely sure you’ll be able to control. A few minutes may pass before you build enough courage to finally make the click and send the E-mail you just wrote.
Working on a startup this is a rather common situation. Writing to a big investor, a journalist from a famous tech blog or even to a successful entrepreneur in Silicon Valley is not easy and, almost every time, it produces an adrenaline rush and tons of uncertainty. Will that person answer? Will he even read my E-mail, or will he just discard it as junk? Will she report it as spam and block my address forever? These are just a few of the many questions that will pop in your head as soon as you are finished writing.
The bad news is that uncertainty can never be eradicated and that, ultimately, getting an answer depends a big deal on the content of your message.
However, there are a few tricks we learned over time that can make your E-mails far more attractive and the person reading them more likely to answer them. Check them out:
Today’s guest post comes from Claire, Growth Leader at OmbuShop. OmbuShop is the easiest way to set up your online shop and start selling in Latin America. Making sure you sell online is her business, so today she shares her arsenal of social media marketing tactics for eCommerce businesses.
You’re starting an eCommerce business and you’ve just set up your online shop. Well played! Now it’s time to bring in the customers. What’s the first step?
You know you’re supposed to be using social networks to market your products. Not sure exactly how? Here are our top 9 tips for getting started with the two major social players in eCommerce:
Let’s face it: people spend a HUGE chunk of their time on Facebook. Reading, stalking, watching videos of Boston terriers – it’s where we go to simply hang out online. Remember how people used to go to the mall to hang out? Well now businesses are focusing their energy on reaching us on Facebook so as not to lose sales. Here’s how to make our own mark:
Oh, the startup life! In the few years I’ve spent first as startup employee and later as an entrepreneur myself, I’ve been through an extensive variety of working experiences which ranged from having a regular office exclusive to the startup I was working for, to working at home or at my partners’ homes to, lately, working at a co-working space in Wayra, a startups incubator where our project is being accelerated and at the CMI in Santiago, where we are talking part of StartupChile.
Each working space had its ups and downs, but once I overcame my initial fears and my natural propensity to social awkwardness, I came to love co-working. Adapting, I must confess, was tough though. But it doesn’t have to. So, as to reduce the pain for newcomers and for people getting acquainted to the shared-office life I came up with a set of 8 ruleommendations that will make adapting to the co-working life much easier and far less traumatic. Here we go:
8. Follow the Office Rules.
While rules may not yet be written, every co-working space has a set of rules, no matter how basic and dumb they may sound. It is a good exercise, on the first days you spend at your new office, to learn these rules and, at least at the beginning, try to live by them. So before bringining your dog or showing up in flip-flops find out if there’s any regulation that stands on the way. After all, you don’t want to get banned from your new workspace on your first week.
Living alone can be tough. Especially on an unusually hot November night. You get home, you open the fridge and you realize your only chance of having a decent dinner is either ordering a Pizza or making yourself a sandwich. Cheap as I am, I chose the latter and, to my surprise, I finally got the inspiration to write my first post. As I opened the cheese’s package I saw it: My cheese wants me to follow it on Facebook.
As Social Media Marketing gains importance, most companies of all sizes are increasing their spending in this rather new area. According to a study conducted by The CMO Survey, Social Media accounted for a 3.5% of the average marketing budget in August 2009. As of February 2012 this number has climbed to 7.4%, and it is expected to soar as high as 19.5% over the next five years. This, however, doesn’t mean companies know what they are doing.
Take Sancor, for example, the company that makes my cheese. Sancor is the second largest dairy manufacturer in Argentina, one of the top 10 in Latin America. According to its own reports, the company’s revenues were over 1.1 Billion Dollars in 2011. And yet, they understand Social Media as placing a “Follow us on Facebook” badge on their packages. Funny enough, the badge doesn’t give consumers a clue on how to find them on the Social Network, it doesn’t provide a URL address to their fan page and it doesn’t even mention the brand’s user name. But most importantly, it doesn’t offer consumers an incentive to follow the brand.
Social Media Spend as a Percent of Marketing Budget. Source: The CMO Survey.org
The past few days were some of those you can identify with the ups and downs of the startup life. It wasn’t because one of our clients suddenly came down, or something went wrong. It was something very common that happens to most entrepreneurs, a completely unproductive week.
I kept pushing to accomplish more items in my To Do list but I didn’t finish them and I still don’t think they were very important. I just wanted to complete them for the sake of completing them.
The startup world is full of people addicted to work who think that by pulling 90 hours a
week and working on weekends they are going to impact positively on the startup, but they don’t notice what really happens. They finally burnout and the weeks start getting less and less productive. If you have good working habits your brain is going to work better, you will have more concentration and you will solve problems better.
This is why it is important to take a break or make a stop not only when you feel you’re working too much but also when you feel you are working too little. Last week I felt I was working too little and nothing I did was really important for the company, so today, I decided to do something I love. I got up very early in the morning and went to do wakeboard, one of my favourite sports. It cleared my mind for a few hours, disconnected from the whole world and got in touch with the nature.
What were the results with this experiment?
It freed my mind and by the middle of the day I was back at work with lots of energies and desiring to do important stuff I have been replacing with minor To Do’s.
The first tangible thing is I wrote my very first blogpost ever (BTW, it is this one you are reading). I wanted to do it for years and have been postponing for a long time.
It is very important to be attentive to your team’s productivity. And to your own. Don’t try to push it harder when it’s not working. Just make a stop and do something different, something that can clear your mind. Work less when you are working less.
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