When the Market Says No, Listen

October 12, 2008 — I just want to share the most valuable piece of Internet startup advice I possess.

The startup advice out there is filled with pyschology mumbo jumbo, but ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS IS THE NUMBERS.

From day one, you should be following the numbers. This means you have to put up a website in week one. Without a product out in the marketplace, you can’t get numbers. All that matters is the numbers. Without them, you’ve got nothing.

You absolutely cannot force an Internet startup to success. The market dictates your success plain and simple. You have a great idea and great team but the numbers haven’t picked up yet? Sorry, the market said no. Time to move on.

You have to listen to the market, and the market speaks with numbers, not words(ignore praise from family and friends and early users, numbers are the only praise that matter in the startup world). That’s really the only thing you should pay attention to.

A month into my startup last year, SeeMeWin, one of the co-founders said to me and the other partner:

Him: “Guys, I’ve discovered a pattern in our traffic.”

Me: “Well, what is it?”

Him: “Every week it decreases.”

Me: (Proceed to ignore the importance of this simple statement and pursue the idea for 5 more months, believing that because we had a good team and we thought the idea was good we could succeed, which was too bad because from month 1 the market was giving us PRICELESS advice–we should have been working on a different idea)

Every other mistake was irrelevant because the only thing that matters is the numbers.

From month one, you have to be tracking the numbers. Do not pour effort into anything unless the numbers have shown it to be worthwhile. If you’re not tracking the numbers yet, then you’re not really trying. If you are tracking the numbers and they don’t look good, don’t put a whole lot of effort into it until you get permission from the market–improved numbers.

That’s my advice for the day.

Note: I imported this post from my original Wordpress blog.

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