Built to Last
Today I read an article called “Outlasting” that I could relate very much with. It inspired me to write about building a long-lasting business and patience.
You in business? What are you doing to last? Not to grow. Not to gain. Not to take. Not to win. But to last? —Jason Fried in Outlasting
It describes the way I build software and websites since ever — building a thing that lasts for as long as I can imagine it to last. In the past, I related this to how I create a codebase so that it lasts for years and will be reliable and readable by other people when I’m not on that project anymore. These days I think about my own company—Colloq.
Have a Vision
Colloq is a project right to my heart. I’ve spent countless hours already on it and with Tobias and Holger I’ve created a platform for accessing events and event content in an easier way. When we made things official and talked about how we want to do business, we all imagined the service to be available for the next decades. We didn’t want to build something and sell it to the highest bidder but to build something that makes us happy to work on for the next years and pays our bills.
We often get asked whether we’re a replacement for [Service X] and while such comparisons are good for people who don’t know us yet, our goal was never to copy and replace another service.
I wouldn’t advocate spending much time worrying about the competition — you really shouldn’t waste attention worrying about things you can’t control — but if it helps make the point relatable, the best way to beat the competition is to last longer than they do. —Jason Fried in Outlasting
For Colloq, we have a vision about what it should be and how we want to create a sustainable, ethical business that lasts. I think it’s important to have your own vision if you want to be successful and build something that lasts for long.
One of the hard lessons you learn when you start an online business is patience. In times of smartphones with (virtual) assistants for nearly everything who can give you a mostly instant reply to your questions, we have a tough time to be patient.
Most of us constantly forget that some things need time. We forget that while going to the mountains, practicing meditation and yoga but struggle to not expect instant feedback. One of these things that take time is building a business. When I opened up my first business 11 years ago, things were different but it took me three years to get to a point where the business was really and sufficiently profitable. Building an online service with three people is even harder as we need to earn money for three and not only one persons. We also need to save some money for the company itself to keep it running.
Not having thousands of paying customers after merely 7 months of is just normal. Not even the considered “most successful” companies had that. Building reputation takes time and if you’re going the hard path and market your product with honesty and real facts takes even longer. Building a quality product is difficult — from planning over crafting it to market it to customers. We can understand why some hand-crafted tools like a Japanese wood chisel set of 6 chisels can easily cost thousands of Dollars. It takes time to produce these things, it’s a limited production and the tools need to be of excellent quality.
The Cost Factor
Jason Fried writes about this adequately:
Whenever a startup goes out of business, the first thing I get curious about are their costs, not their revenues. If their revenues are non-existent, or barely there, then they were fucked anyway. But beyond that, the first thing I look at is their employee count. Your startup with 38 people didn’t make it? No wonder. —Jason Fried in Outlasting
A few weeks ago I wrote a Colloq blog post about saving costs that explains how we saved $5 per month and become more sustainable again. People ask whether we would hire more people or why we don’t use [Service Y] for that but build our own tools; What often is neglected that if you don’t have large investment, you don’t have a choice about these decisions. We simply can’t afford hiring someone else because the fund currently only pay a bit more than our technical costs we have. Our goal is not to get rich but to pay ourselves a fair and reasonable wage for the next decades. In order to do that, we not only need to acquire users who find it worth paying for our service but also need to save money wherever we can. Building our own tools is not free (time) but doesn’t affect our account’s balance.
Thanks Jason for the inspiring read where I could find so many things I have in my mind affirmed by someone who is successful following these rules.
Have an event that could get promotion or need tools that aid you organizing it? Or want to find events to go to and get inspired by their coverage? All you need is signing up for Colloq.