Only 1 in about 5,000 attempts at building websites results in a successful business (more on these stats in following posts). At our PubCon keynote I outlined the five primary factors that determine the winners:
And the transcendent ingredient:
I'll begin to break these down:
Target one niche or application (at least to start). The more precise the better. Examples: not travel, but cruises. Not hobbies, but scrapbooking. Not students, but colleges (think of Facebok's start). Focus forces you to understand the target better and to build better solutions. Win a single type of audience, only then expand.
At the onset, the business should either be unique or do something much better than everyone else. Over time, competition tries to replicate the success of others, but the best businesses preserve aspects of their uniqueness by continuing to innovate (like Amazon).
Follow the money trails, the commercial trails. Audience alone is sometimes not enough. Not all audiences monetize very well.
Deliver the highest quality content to your target audience. It's the most efficient way to build brands.
Try to build strong community around your site. Good content gets much better when a community interects with it.
Passion is the secret weapon. Beating the competition requires intense energy, perseverance, discipline, and ambition-- attributes that are driven by passion.
I'll have more to say about these ingredients, especially passion, in subsequent posts.
PubCon Las Vegas Keynote, Nov 12, 2009. Photo thanks to Dave Dugdale.