One man startup looking for motivation


7

I've been working on a web application as a hobby for the past couple of years. It's been challenging and I've learned a lot. Now that I am done and actually have something up and running (shrData.com ), I seem to have lost some motivation. I don't know if it's because I'm not sure what the next steps are in getting my startup going, or if it's because I'm not challenged and solving problems anymore. Has anyone gone thru this? Any advice, suggestions, or motivational speeches will help. Thanks...

Motivation Web

asked Nov 17 '10 at 05:54
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Txoov
38 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • Perhaps it has something to do with the tasks that you now face. Sure there is still development to do, but really what you need to tackle are all the other things related to running a business: Identifying a market, determining if there is a demand, marketing, selling, talking to customers, etc. To progress you will have to bite the bullet and take on all those things that are foreign to you. Or, just move on to the next technical challenge and forget this one ever existed. Alternatively you can find a partner to do all those other things. – Tim J 9 years ago
  • What motivated you in the first place? – Adrian Schneider 9 years ago
  • I think you can be motivated if you look at the market size for tools such as box.net and google spreadsheets. Your application needs a major facelift (new UI), needs better sales copy on the actual site. I would consider a fresh look to get you excited about it again. – Frank 9 years ago
  • Website redesign ideas: I don't know why I would use your product. You list off a bunch of features, but it doesn't sell it to me. Convince me! Show me what people are doing with it. Show me where it matters in my life. – Ape Inago 9 years ago

11 Answers


6

From my perspective it is pointless to spend any time marketing your software when your web site isn't ready for "prime time". Say you spend 100 hours marketing right now. Virtually all of that time is going to be wasted if 95 out of 100 people leave your site because it doesn't convince them that you are serious.

Your web site needs to explain exactly what it is you do and how this will benefit your customer. Your web site needs to convince your potential customers that you are a real business.

  1. The home page needs a simple explanation of how you are going to make my life easier.
  2. The basic graphicial layout of your pages is too plain.
  3. Your pricing structure is unreasonable.
  4. I always check out the About page to find out a little about the company I am going to do business with. Your "About" page is not about your company!
  5. A business service that only accepts payment by PayPal seems a bit sketchy.
  6. Your contact page has no contact information. I expect a business to list an address and a phone number.

Once you have your web site and pricing ready, then you can worry about marketing. Make a list of the tasks that need to be finished and work out a schedule to complete each one of those tasks.

answered Nov 17 '10 at 08:52
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Gary E
12,510 points
  • I agree with these statements...also your FAQ's are very simple in explanation and some NOT needed..ie; do you host? ..you say NO..well this is your side of the business not needed to disclose ahead of time. I would answer that on a need to know basis. On any given page there in NO home mapping..user doesn't know where the starting point is...I agree with Gary in the sense of your message and value is not easily out in front..check this site for a second..(http://www.odesk.com/w/odesk_story)..very simple..NO big deal and straight to the hoop.I would clean it up before marketing. more to add – Xs Direct 9 years ago
  • once you clean it up I would embed a API to take cc's AND paypal..be flexible. Advert your strengths...SSl..and define the user types...IE; solutions for business --> OR solutions for individuals---> two different pricing structures of course.. – Xs Direct 9 years ago
  • another thing Gary is correct..no contact # and point of contact/...no quarter...too many nightmares in this business without it..you can add a simple submission ticket API for members or for after hours but keep standard hours and get a VOIP # like a packet 8 for this..cheap and effective.. your product has value, but not properly driven it is lost in a sea of charts and heady talk when a typical consumer want to know ..Hey, how will it help me and how much? – Xs Direct 9 years ago
  • hope this helps, I have more but running to a meeting now..and Gary, sorry to hijack your thread... be well..I will draft some other thoughts later when I sit and reflect on my day..Regards. – Xs Direct 9 years ago
  • Thanks, Gary and XS Direct for your suggestions. I'll focus on revamping my site. I'm not a designer or hard-core programmer, and don't do this for a living. I just know enough to make things work. Looks like I'll need to outsource the design of my site and application. Thanks again. – Txoov 9 years ago
  • I guess I just needed some direction. I think I got some motivation back! – Txoov 9 years ago
  • Txoov- There are tons of free or inexpensive web site templates out there. Or look around the web until you find a site design that you like. Then adapt it to your needs. – Gary E 9 years ago

5

There is nothing more rewarding than getting out there, talking to potential customers, and having someone pay for your service. You need to start figuring out how to move this from a hobby to a real source of income (assuming that is what you intend to do). Do some marketing, attend some events, e-mail your friends...whatever it takes. Once the interest and orders start to materialize, I think you'll notice your own interest level will pickup substantially.

answered Nov 17 '10 at 06:04
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Andrew Follett
276 points
  • Andrew, I think marketing and networking is my weakness. I guess that's why I'm not as anxious to get going. – Txoov 9 years ago
  • That is an issue with most developer-types. In that case, you either need to find a partner who can take care of the marketing for you, or start taking baby steps. Despite what you may think, marketing and networking the product you built can be a very rewarding experience! – Andrew Follett 9 years ago
  • the site look very much as a dev built it..all function..but to sell it it needs some bells and whistles..."paint" the picture of the benefits...to both parties whether consumer or corp. maybe tiered entry..this piece free then add ons or support features at another price...NEVER use TBD on pricing...use CALL us today for super value pricing or something...look like you haven't thought it out there...think like you was a potential client..what would YOU want to see? – Xs Direct 9 years ago
  • Thanks, XS Direct. I'll take your suggestions into consideration. – Txoov 9 years ago

4

This is something that all people in a startup experiences at one point or another. Every time I feel down and seem to have lost my motivation I turn to my friends and family, it helps to get away from your startup life and projects for a few days... re-connect with some friends, go out, do stuff not related to your startup, that is what I do and it helps a lot!

Doing what I described above, re-energizes me and gets me motivated again... that works for me.

Good luck!

answered Nov 17 '10 at 06:53
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Ricardo
4,815 points
  • Thanks, Ricardo. Yes I find that talking to friends and family gives me motivation, but only temporarily. The motivation has to come from me. – Txoov 9 years ago

2

It's tough going it alone.

Joining a community of people who are facing similar challenges is always a good idea.

I've seen others post about their experiences with http://startuptodo.com - perhaps others can chime in about how effective it is.

Also - if you read messages tagged motivation, you will find some good advice there as well.

answered Nov 17 '10 at 06:07
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Jim Galley
9,952 points
  • Thanks for the suggestions, jimg. – Txoov 9 years ago

2

I went through he site quickly..I see some things you can do to make it more user friendly..also your FAQ's needs help... gimme a few hours and I will give you a more complete answer. Thanks

answered Nov 17 '10 at 06:10
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Xs Direct
275 points
  • Thanks, XS Direct. Any help will be appreciated. – Txoov 9 years ago
  • added some thoughts above for you to consider...but remember this..you're spirit needs to be strong and you MUST remain driven..you have something nice here...package it up and take it all the way. – Xs Direct 9 years ago

1

Market and itterate from customer feedback. (Everyone else has given great insperation but you aren't done yet unless your getting all the income your looking for.)

I'm not following the pricing concept as being realistic. So if you are already getting customers to buy in at the pricing plans you have then ignore this feedback but if you don't have any sales relook at the tiers or even rethink how you can price it all together.

So while you are low in sales have no fear to change things. I'm speaking from experience where I put something out got a total of 3 sales and was scared to change anything to make it worse. Of course completely not rational but I froze because of how much work I had already put into it. So my main suggestion is now is the time to experiment not hold back. Market it out, get customer feedback and improve the sales funnel.

Luck

answered Nov 17 '10 at 07:23
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John Bogrand
2,210 points
  • John, I think the pricing concept is similar to my competitors. Good advice on being scared to make changes when having users. I have a problem with it too. – Txoov 9 years ago
  • perhaps two tier pricing..one for John Q Public user one for corporations with more extensive needs... – Xs Direct 9 years ago

1

If you want challenge/kick in the pants, try adding this feature:

  • Linking Tables together in datasets.
  • Have a form that is a parent / child (subform) type so data may be entered into two tables with related data.

I don't think any of your competitors have this. You're either going to have to focus on a niche market and provide specific functionality for them, or stay on your general data entry path and offer something different.

answered Nov 18 '10 at 01:39
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Jeff O
6,169 points
  • Jeff, looks like you know a thing or two about my app and its competitors. I thought about linking tables but it's a little complex for me to build and don't know if I want to introduce that complexity to my customers. I'm not trying to replicate a web database. My niche is the ability to share and view data in many different ways, including drill-downs. Most of my competitors don't have that functionality. – Txoov 9 years ago

0

Maybe re-brand yourself?

When I saw the name "shrData" I pronounced it "s" "h" "r" "data". I don't know if that was your intent, but as soon as I changed the capitalization in my head I pronounced it as a word. That is, "SHRData" became "shared data". Maybe just "SHR Data"?

I really don't know how helpful that will be, but just something I thought about. To me, in its current state, the name looks like a bunch of random letters prepended to "data". If you pretend to make it an acronym (unless it already is?) it sounds/looks better.

Just my 2 cents.

answered Nov 18 '10 at 10:57
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Jeremy Heiler
138 points
  • I kind of like the name. In my mind "shr" is short for "share", similar to "frm" is for "form", "tbl" is for "table", "qry" for "query", "rpt" for "report"; atleast some developers refer to them that way. – Txoov 9 years ago
  • The name was a put-off for me because it didn't really make any sense. Sure, I figured out what it meant pretty quickly, but if you were to verbally say your websites name to me, I wouldn't get it. Unless you actually did pronounce it "shared data dot com" then I would have gotten it wrong, or you would have had to explain "no it's actually..". I've always found it annoying when I had to explain something that should have been simple. Remember, it's what your customers will think, not just how you see it. – Jeremy Heiler 9 years ago

0

I had a post very similar to your. Apparently it is quite typical. Here's a link to the answers I received

answered Nov 17 '10 at 15:01
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Usabilitest
1,698 points

0

Your product is a little too generic. Who are the people you are selling to? Carve out some niches you can tailor your product to. Do customer development interviews to help you figure those out. I would recommend reading Steven Blank's "The Four Steps to The Epiphany" to help you on your way:

http://www.amazon.com/Four-Steps-Epiphany-Steven-Blank/dp/0976470705

answered Nov 17 '10 at 23:04
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Henry The Hengineer
4,316 points

0

As I understand it, this was all sweat equity (ie, you invested your time and effort but not too much upfront Capital) if that's the case, you have something quite impressive here. I am looking at your side purely from a developer's perspective. I think it is quite impressive. As someone who is in the same boat myself I can relate. I am trying to get a new IT Employment Career site/business going ( http://techhotbed.com ) and hitting some rough spots. Let me tell you these are just bumps in the road and with a little bit of persistence, you shall overcome. Nothing good comes easy.

I would strongly advise you to try to give it all away for free. Build a customer base, get customers stored their data, then slowly but surely switch to a paid model. Now, I completely understand that this easier said than done. But believe me it works. It worked for me in a previously self funded startup. The nature of your business lends itself to this model. People are very reluctant to moving data around from host to host. They tend to stick and work with whoever is hosting their data. Just think about it from the perspective of switching your Hosting services from Rackspace to another host. It is quite a hassle. Customers feel the same way.

Keep up the good work! and Best Luck to you.

answered Nov 18 '10 at 02:09
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Donald
136 points
  • Thanks for the positive comment and suggestions, Donald. Yep, it's all sweat equity and self-taught. I like the idea of giving it all for free now but I'm not sure how customers would feel when I switch to a paid model later. – Txoov 9 years ago

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