This post is part of the Bootstrapped Startup 50 series. The goal for the BS50 series is to cover everything that matters when bootstrapping a new startup. The posts are sequential, so it wouldn’t hurt to read from the beginning if you’re just joining in.
In the last post I wrote about following your passion and doing what you love. Now, let’s discuss the idea (illusion?) of originality in internet businesses.
True Originality Is Hard To Find
There’s still plenty of room in the internets for completely new ideas to pop up, but it’s happening less and less. Many new startups that you see are simply new takes on existing processes or technologies. How many photo sharing apps do we need, really? The last truly original startup that I remember seeing is Square. The good news is that you certainly don’t need an original idea to be successful.
Passion + Better Product = Success
Your overall potential for success depends more on the quality of the product or service that you produce than anything else. A great idea with a poor execution (I’ve had plenty of those, trust me) will usually fail. User experience is greatly important… first impressions and all that.
You can win in a tough market by building a better product. A good example that comes to mind is Zendesk. Customer help desks certainly aren’t a new idea, but their implementation of the help desk is fantastic and a little different from what was available when it first launched. Now there are several other help desk providers out there following Zendesk’s lead and providing twists on their product offering.
Things like simplicity, ease of use, ease of setup, and price are things that you can use to differentiate your product from competitors. In recent years it has became clear that simpler solutions often win, so think simplicity and ease of use over flexibility and configurability. Apple, Basecamp, Zendesk, etc. are great examples of how providing less can mean more.
Next time we’ll revisit the fine art of making money. What do you think of the series so far? Comments appreciated!