Building a profitable web application is often the fastest way to notoriety as a developer (just ask Mark Zuckerberg or Sergey Brin).
It’s also often the quickest way to have massive impact on the world and improve thousands or even millions of people’s lives.
And, of course, if you hit it big (and usually even if you don’t)… the pay isn’t too shabby, either. 🙂
But, how can you ensure the web application you want to develop will be a success?
Having worked at a successful tech start-up for the last five years, I want to share a few of my insights:
1. Build Something People Want
It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many developers don’t do this. The “gotcha” here is building something you assume people will want… not something you know they do.
When the founders of our company (WishList Products) got started, they developed an application that they themselves wanted and felt was sorely missing for their business.
But, they didn’t stop there. They quickly put it on the market (after only about a month or so of development) to see if anyone else wanted it too.
And, the demand for the product exploded. Then and only then did they go all-in and create a full-fledged company.
Research, build and test as quickly as possible until you find a winner. Selling people something they want will make every other part of your business that much easier.
2. Learn How to Sell
This is easily the biggest roadblock for developers… loathing the idea of “selling” and being afraid to aggressively market your product.
That doesn’t mean you need to be a douche about it… but you should genuinely believe that your product will make people’s lives better and not be afraid to share that.
One of the distinct advantages our application had was founders who weren’t afraid to market it…. and who had a solid plan for doing so.
In fact, outside observers have noted time and again that it’s our marketing that’s allowed us to dominate the market we’re in.
Don’t be afraid to sell your product… and take it further by developing a solid plan for getting it in front of the people most likely to benefit from it.
3. Stay Nimble
This probably isn’t something you’re thinking about now, but it will quickly become one of your biggest roadblocks.
Early on, in a startup… you’re able to move and adapt quickly because you often have very little infrastructure in place. Over time, however, that infrastructure grows and can become debilitating.
When WishList Products first started out, it was just three people and one product. Today, it’s over 15 employees and 20+ products. That’s a lot bigger ship to steer.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grow your company, but you have to actively look for ways to keep it light and easy to maneuver in what is an ever-changing landscape.
4. Hire the Right People
When you first start, it’s all about the idea. That’s the dominant thought in your mind and what you believe is the key factor to your success.
Over time, though, you learn having the right people on your team is what will determine your success… because an idea is only as good as the people building it.
One of the best things you can do to ensure you get the right people is to develop a hiring process as early on as you can. You just need something in place that you can evaluate and improve.
Then over time… analyze how good you are at getting the right people and how you can tweak your hiring process to improve the quality of the employees you hire.
We’ve covered a lot… so what can you do right now to get started with all this?
Take a look at your product or your idea and do some hard-nosed evaluation on whether it’s something people really want. See if an industry already exists online (it’s a good thing if there is) and take a look at what your future competitors are building.
What’s missing? How can you do it better?
Ask around and get feedback on your idea from people in that industry. You want to go into this knowing your idea is a homerun.