About two or three times per month I am presented with an idea from a visionary business person who wants to start something new. Some of these ideas are unique and some are not. Many of them involve a web based application or service that the individual wants to sell. Whether it's an actual product, information, or a service of some kind, this person has convinced themselves that the idea has the potential to become a thriving and profitable business. They come to me for general advice and possibly, to see if CF Webtools would like to develop the product for them.
In some cases they are underfunded and they ask if we would take an equity stake in the venture in lieu of some or all of our development fee. I have declined to do so up to this point - mostly because we need projects that are profitable and funded to meet our own business goals, and any capital we want to risk we tend to use to expand CF Webtools. In any case, all of these ideas have something in common. An individual or group of individuals believe they can leverage the web to make a pile of money.
Now let me say at the outset that I am sometimes amazed at the ideas that end up succeeding. CF Webtools has built a few crack-pot applications that we felt had no chance of success, only to see them take off and exceed expectations right out of the gate. On the other hand we have seen some applications that we thought were startlingly innovative die with a whimper. Still, there are some hard earned lessons that we try to share with our customers to give them the best shot at success.
So this series is designed to help consulting companies or independent contractors better assist their clients in making good choices. It is also an excellent read if you are one of those visionaries and would like to know exactly what you should focus on to get your idea off of the ground. Unless you are a follower of motivational speakers Anthony Anthony (If You Can Do It Any Idiot Can) or Walter Mollusk (Seize the Self-Help Book of the Day), you will know intuitively that there is no one formula for success. But there are some obstacles you would do well to avoid.