Geoff Wilson / Innovation Videos / August 15th, 2013

Noodles & Doodles – Questions to Ask When Starting a New Web Venture

Today, we’d like to present the first episode of our new whiteboard video series, Noodles & Doodles. It’s a message from our CEO Geoff Wilson in which he breaks down some of the most important questions to ask yourself – as a business owner or marketing director – before you launch any new web venture. Whether it’s a brand new website or an app for your business, it’s important to make sure you’re taking the right approach to your project. So if you’re thinking of launching a new web design project, let our doodles lead the way.

Video Transcription

[Geoff]: Hi I’m Geoff Wilson, founder and president of 352. And today I want to talk to you about questions you should ask before you do your next web venture. Now it doesn’t matter if you’re a start-up pursuing a web venture as a new business, or if you’re an established corporation looking to do a enw web venture within your corporation. These are really solid questions that over our years of doing projects we’ve learned that if we ask folks coming to us with projects these questions, it really helps them be introspective and have a better project plan from the beginning.
So let’s get to the questions!
Question 1: “Why do you want to do this?”
Now that sounds like a very simple question, but it really delves into “What’s the purpose behind this? What’s the vision, what’s the mission? What are the goals you’re trying to accomplish with what you’re doing?”
If you don’t have a clear foundation at the very beginning as far as really Why you want to do this – what’s the purpose – then you’re not gonna have a very successful venture. So it’s very important to get that vision, that mission, those goals for the project established right off the bat.
Question 2: “What’s my opportunity cost?”
When my sister went to law school, I tried to talk her out of it because I felt there was too big of an opportunity cost. I was talking to her how expensive law school was. And she said, “Yeah it was this amount per year, and this amount for books and everything like that.
And I said to her, “Yeah, but what about the opportunity cost? What about what you would be earning the years that you went to law school if you were in another job?” That is the hidden cost that actually can turn out to be a significant cost when you add that to the actual cost of attending school.
With a web venture it’s the same thing. It’s not just the expense you’re going to pay to have an agency develop a web site and the expense you’re going to pay to market it. It’s also the hidden cost of what else you could be doing with those funds and with your time, which ultimately may be the most valuable thing.
Question 3: “Will I be able to iterate?”
This one is really important. Do not start a new web venture and put your whole budget into that web budget from the very beginning. You have to be able to iterate. That means you have to expect change, you have to plan for change and you have to resources – time and money – set aside to be able to make changes to your project after the initial version of it is complete.
The way that the web is working today, it’s silly to think that you could launch your product and have it be perfect from the get-go. You want to launch a light version of your project, get user feedback, and be able to iterate to make your product a lot better.
Number 4: “What’s my niche?”
We’ve seen a lot of web ventures come through 352, and the ones that have been most successful are the ones that have niched themselves to a certain audience. Niche web ventures have a better chance of success because it’s easier to gain exposure amongst that group, it’s easier to market to that group.
Everyone wants to create the next Facebook; I would love to create the next Facebook. The truth of the matter is, for every venture that becomes as successful as a Facebook, there are thousands of others that die on the vine.
You have a better chance of success if you don’t think about becoming the next Facebook, but you think about becoming the next Facebook within a particular industry slice, within a particular niche. That’s where you have the opportunity to realistically hit a homerun.
Question No. 5: “How will I look polished?”
Design, quality design is extremely important. There is a design principle which shows that if you take 2 users and put them in front of the same computer, on the same website – same exact functionality, same exact content – but one of the websites has a better design than the other: users will walk away and say that the website with a better design was more trustworthy, and that they’d be more likely to do business because that company is more reputable.
That’s how much of a difference design makes; you want to look polished with whatever you do.
No. 6: “How will I be memorable?”
There are millions of websites out there. Your website needs to have some personality, your venture needs to have some personality built into it. It has to be memorable. People have to be able to come to it and remember who you are, and it’s not just another stale, bland website, but it’s one that really pops, that gives some personality, gives exposure into who you are, what you believe in, why you are doing it, and creates a memorable experience for the user.
Question No. 7: “How can I get to market quickly?”
Ideas are coming fast and furious these days, and those who win are those who can get a product to market quickly. You really need a plan, a quick launch strategy. If you sit around for a year planning your idea before doing this really long development cycle, it’s never going to work in this day and age.
Instead, you need to have short development cycles. Don’t worry as much about the planning. Get something built, get it out to market, get user feedback and iterate on it. Those people win in today’s world.
My final question, and this one’s my favorite, No. 8 “Who hates my idea?”
You see, so often when you go to start a new venture, everyone is going to tell you how great it is. Those people are not helping you. Those friends who are telling you, “Oh that’s such a great idea, you’re going to be super successful.” Those people aren’t helping you.
What you need to find are people who tell you why your idea is bad, people who tell you why your idea is going to fail, people who hate your idea. Those are the people who are actually your friends who are g
oing to help you out with this venture,because that’s the feedback that you need to listen to in order to make your idea stronger and to have a more successful venture when it does launch.
Thank you.
  • João de Almeida

    Great Video, thanks

    • 352inc

      Glad you liked it!

  • Lincoln Anderson

    Truth! This is great advice from experience. So many people would have avoided heartache in the dot-com era with a little wisdom like this. 🙂