Not too long ago Calvin pushed out the suggestion for this post to the Atlanta Startups group on Skribit. I figured I would tackle this post now that it is still early in the year. Unfortunately, you probably already know what I'm going to say. I think every startup's primary goal for 2009 is survival. The economy sucks and we're reminded of that almost every day. Microsoft just laid off 5,000 employees and they are definitely not alone.
Survive? Could you elaborate..
Even with our investment and minimal burn rate, Skribit can only remain my full-time job for an amount of time that is counted in months, not quarters and definitely not years. Usually most startups can trim costs here and there, and there's no shortage of articles detailing how this can be done. But what if you have almost no costs aside from living expenses? You'll run out of money eventually right?
This leaves us with the typical startup company; little to no outside investment, just sweat equity and consulting/freelancing full-time to keep the bill collectors at bay. Running a bootstrapped startup is no easy feat as the founders can't devote 100% of their time and energy on their company. As a result, development cycles get longer and tasks that should take a day can be stretched out to three. I will do whatever it takes to avoid having to take too much of my time away from Skribit. Being the only full-time employee, our development cycle isn't exactly rapid and if I had to work another gig to pay the bills, I shudder to think what would happen to Skribit.
Fortunately, I have a fail safe in place. Revenue from this blog for the month of January is approaching 1,600. That's enough to cover all of my primary monthly expenses. It's not quite enough to cover student loans (the repayment of which doesn't become mandatory for a year) or taxes (how much are those things anyways?) but I can definitely keep living like a college student for a while before I start freaking out about my empty retirement fund.
This means I should be able to focus all of my time on building out Skribit for the foreseeable future.
What else is on my mind in regards to the startup life? For one, I have the longest to-do list in the world. Every day I knock out a big task and then I add two more to the list. I'm not talking about feature creep here. There are many aspects of upcoming Skribit ideas that must work together to ensure that a) Skribit actually does cure writer's block as our slogan says, b) the Skribit community has what it needs to thrive, and c) businesses find enough value in Skribit to work with us and our users (left vague intentionally - in regards to our primary business model).
Getting traction for Skribit is the next big goal for the coming months. Of course, if I was Josh Harnett in the movie August (movie about dudes struggling with a startup), I would be saying something like:
Traction.. you're missing the point. Traction really isn't the issue because Skribit is not a vehicle. Skribit is the road itself.
But traction is worthless without knowing which direction to go in. Direction in this case is our primary business model. From what I can assimilate, this seems resembles a very basic understanding of Skribit's master plan:
- 1) Develop more functionality.
- 2a) Continue fine-tuning business model on paper.
- 2b) Initiate Skribit marketing plan (wearing Skribit t-shirt at SXSWi).
- 3a) Nurture growing Skribit userbase/community.
- 3b) Approach potential clients for feedback on business model. Gauge interest. Repeat 2a.
- 4) Prepare metrics that show traction. Begin courtship with various potential investors. Explain the need to hire more developers and someone with an MBA that can say synergy, core competencies, deliverable, best practices, mission-critical, incentivize, supply chain, value added, SWOT and paradigm in the same sentence.
- 5) Build out primary business model.
Right now the biggest challenge will be developing all of the functionality (in an acceptable time frame) necessary for Skribit to attract bloggers and prove useful. Only once Skribit has a solid number of active users will our primary business model really work.. but I guess that can be said about every startup.
What are your goals for whatever you do full-time right now?