In our Barenaked Apps Panel at SXSW, Ryan Carson advised anyone starting a web app to plan for 3 potential outcomes: success, limited success and failure. He’s right – you need to think those outcomes through and determine how you will respond to each scenario. I’d like to add something to this though. There are many people out there with big dreams that are building web apps in their spare time these days – it’s exciting. Unfortunately I think a lot of them are building with false expectations (a post on false expectations to follow soon). They think if their app does not take right off, they should pack it in. My thinking is – don’t.
If you have a measure of success when you launch, I bet you’ve got something. What’s the measure of success? It could be almost anything, like how many visitors from to your site or how many people trial your service. How about getting someone you don’t know to pay for your service? If a person you don’t know signs up and pays out of no where – even one person – then there is a good chance you are on to something.
If you’re on to something it’s time to hunker down and get to work. Launching does not mean you’ve arrived at easy street and you can sit back and relax – it’s your introduction to the grind. The beauty is that web businesses are a ton of fun to run, so the grind can be really enjoyable.
Not buying any of this? Maybe you will find this inspiring. When FreshBooks launched, we were called 2ndSite (we’ve since rebranded) and we did not have our first paying user until month two, but we believed in what we were doing – that fuelled us – and saw trials everyday which was exciting. So we hunkered down and that graph at the top of this post is what our growth has looked like over the past 30 months (we’ve been at it for 33, but I could not get info for the first three months).
Work hard, take care of your customers, innovate and the rest will take care of itself.