I've been willing to write about this for quite a while, but didn't do it because some people will want to throw stones at me for trying to break their spirit. You don't have to take my word for it if you don't like what I'm saying. I don't claim that my point of view is absolutely correct, so don't blame me for having one.
I love people who love startups. Who work hard and believe that they can change the world. Who are fearless and choose a different path than most of those who are playing it safe. There is something about them that triggers a sense of respect.
I consider myself a startup minded person too. I've been trying to spin off my own business for at least 10 years. I've built software services, created products with optimistic hope that people will find them useful and it will somehow evolve into something I could do for living. I've been getting up at 5AM every day to find the time to code things of my own while having a full time job. I've took breaks from job to create something of my own. But I was always dragged back by the cruel reality. I still read NH nearly every day, stories about new successful software startups always makes my heart beat faster and my pupils dilate.
Like most of things in life, only a small fraction of everything that
people create is actually ingenious. Take music, for instance. Everyone can learn to play or compose
it, but it takes more than time, stubbornness, dedication and hard work to produce a true
masterpiece. And usually one doesn't make it twice. Same goes with technology. Most software
products and services that startups produce are just worthless or only a little useful. But
good enough doesn't cut it - you have to be the best to succeed.
More bad news for those who are dying to create a hit - you will never create one on purpose. I don't know if there's a law for that, and if it's not, I'm coining it as The Law of Startup Lottery: chances of creating a really successful startup are roughly equal to winning the grand prize of national lottery. And if you took some classes of statistics or have a common sense, you will know that it's not worth the try.
Another interesting observation is that the most relatively successful things I've built were not built with any intention of becoming a success whatsoever. For instance, my most successful part time project was a mirror of JAD Java Decompiler, it's homepage once disappeared from the internet and I had pretty hard time finding a copy, so I decided to put out a mirror for other people to save their time and to keep that great piece of free software alive. It took me 2 hours to do that, and now I'm getting increasingly growing traffic from Wikipedia, StackOverflow, Eclipse Wiki, etc. It's not a huge traffic, since potential audience is just a small fraction of curious Java developers and random hackers, but it's way bigger than anything I've had with my other pet projects. And it was so easy to set up. Brilliant things doesn't have to take much time or strategical planning, you just have to be at the right place at the right time. It's much easier when you do it first.
Read the stories of the greatest startups ever built. How many of them involve accidental luck, and how many were built by intention to become a success?
I've been trying hard enough, spending endless hours of my spare time planning, writing code, contemplating on various ideas, reading books and blogs about startups, trying to apply the learned techniques. It was definitely and rewarding and fun, I've learned a heap of new things that I would otherwise never learn. That was the best part.
But then, ask yourself, why do you do it? It feels bad when you pour your heart into something no one ever wants to use. Over and over again. It's fun to learn, but you can't do it just for the sake of learning, can you?
This is where I put down my hat, at least for a while. I will no longer try to create anything just because it's fun and it may become something more. I'll rather do what I love for those who have won the startup lottery. And if the day comes, I'll create something useful unwillingly, but chances are just one in a billion.
If you're trying hard to become a success, you're doing it wrong. It does not work that way.Startups