Chances are your going to need some help

PartnershipWhen I look back at what I have achieved so far I sometimes feel a certain sense of bewilderment and disbelief, I stumbled about a fair bit through the early process of getting domains, setting up websites, playing around with html and databases and had my fair share of errors and self inflicted complications taking my own websites down on more than one occasion on the way to earning a full time income online.

You see I have always been the sort to build a flat pack unit without looking at the instructions and always felt confident enough that those extras screws and bits and pieces at the end must just have been spares ;)

It is clear now there has been a certain amount of luck involved along the way and some harsh lessons learned and I do feel in the future it is far more likely that teams of people will succeed where single men/woman will fail.  Let’s take some of the main bridges to cross when starting a new venture/blog/website.

  • Vision to come up with a new idea for a product or service or put a spin on an existing one and add value to a market/niche.
  • Come up with a domain name, colours & branding & logo
  • Ability to design the site with clear navigation and code it in such a way that it is not only attractive and easy to use but also efficient
  • Code and integrate any special services and database integration
  • Host the site
  • Update it and safely keep backups of all files and databases
  • Deal with enquiries, problems, requests and suggestions
  • On page SEO and optimisation
  • Off page promotion, link building and marketing
  • Monetise the site
  • Setup payment facilities and bank accounts if needed
  • Keep records, receipts and pay tax on profits

That’s quite a few ingredients and there are probably more? Either way I don’t think that too many people can tick all those boxes  themselves and for that reason many budding entrepreneurs will fail, lose heart and probably walk away from hours and hours of work at various stages without realising their full potential, sure a few of those on the list can be paid for along the way if you have the budget but that may also dilutes your control over your business to an extent and isn’t always an option if your building on a budget.

New ideasIf 5 people with a wide skillset took 5 projects and focused on them one at a time then they stand a huge advantage over 5 people with limited skillsets trying to develop their own sites. So if your an ideas person then I do suggest you look for a partnership with someone who has a completely different skill, I am sure such crowds will develop more as the internet evolves. There are a lot of talented people on forums that would benefit greatly from being put together with other talented people, it’s all a bit unorganised just now but it will come.

I don’t think there is such a meeting place out there yet and building trust levels to part own websites would be a barrier even if you take care of the legalities with a contract, you could find yourself working with someone you have never met that lives in another country. Still if you had the choice between success and failure that’s an easy choice to make and one that may rely on your ability to network and find people with skills you lack.

You also need a sounding board, friends and family can be too kind in their review of your great idea and do a dis-service by being supportive if they understand what your talking about at all! Sometimes a poor idea needs to be shot down quickly, I have also on more than one occassion (often after a wee dram) convinced myself that I had just thought of the next big thing when in fact it was either already done or not done at all for a very good reason!

Don’t be fooled into thinking having a partner means 50% less money in your pocket, if you find the right partner with skills you lack there is every chance that you could end up making 100%+ more than going it alone. After Al’s post yesterday on linkbait erm top 100 blog feed list it just goes to show 2 minds can be better than one and that programmers can be creative.. who’d have guessed it!

I’d be interested to hear if anyone came to the same conclusion or whether you intend to strive on yourself, it can be a lonely online existence at times.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. I just got to find me an ideas person, that’s the bit I, and probably most people, struggle with. I’ve been building websites for over 7 years, have all the hosting sorted etc etc, also got quite a few unused domains, it’s just that killer idea that eludes me.

    Working from my sofa, being a freelancer, is a bit lonely with no one just to bounce ideas off, so going it alone is the way I’ve been thinking so far. Maybe that should change?

    • @Garry
      I’m exactly the opposite. I have tons of ideas and can manage projects quite well, but the mind numbing implementation gets to me. With my g/f as a freelance illustrator, I understand the lonely sofa syndrome, especially since I work anywhere from 40-60 hrs a week.
      Feel free to bounce some ideas off me, and I’ll throw some right back ;)

  2. I think it’s worth considering Garry, I think a lot of us have various pieces of the jigsaw, some domains,coding ability, hosting, ideas and marketing ability, perhaps someone will know of/create a place where partnerships & teams can be born. Even a sounding board website would be a handy service, make up a panel of specialists who agree to an NDA and let users submit business ideas for scrutiny and to get valuable feedback with ideas~ there’s an idea for you!

  3. Finding a team or even one other person to work with is pretty difficult to set up successfully, at least in my experience. If I could get paid for every attempt I’ve made to start a team, I literally would be a millionaire.

    This is how I see it, having a team would be great if you have the luxury of competent, like minded people with a single goal in mind working as one unit. However this is hardly ever the case. The pitfalls I usually ran into was arguments on how money was to be distributed (even though we didn’t have an income stream yet), dead lines never met, meetings never set, and the eventuality of just fizzling out due to lack of communication.

    I won’t disagree with anything on your post, its pretty much spot on, however this is if you have the luxury of good help. In the past I’ve spent years trying to get a team together, only to fail at even getting anything off the ground. What I’ve learned since then is good help is hard to find. So what did I do? Learned everything on your checklist, and then some. This in itself was a mountainous task, but if I can do it, I’m sure many others can.

    Looking back at it, it took 3 trying years to realize I needed to fly solo, never looked back since.

    • Good communication of the team is the responsibility of the project manager. Don’t have a project manager? Then your team will likely fail to accomplish anything, and fizzle out, just as you said. As an electrical engineer, and someone who works with other engineers at work and when I was in college, I can say first hand that it takes a lot of working getting all engineers, and indeed disciplines, to communicate effectively to a point where everyone knows what they need to know to get their job done.
      Moral of the story – become, designate, or find a project manager for your project. Without one single point of contact that is the first person to know when something happens, will happen, should happen, ect ect, communication falls through the cracks.

      • So we agree that it is a preferable route but the main barrier to entry is having trustworthy and like minded partners that can share the same drive & enthusiasm for the long haul.

        • I mostly agree. However, I feel I need to clarify my position that completely like-minded partners/team members are not a necessity for success – it can vary, just as an electrical engineer is different from a mechanical engineer, they are both on the same team but think differently. What MUST be like minded is the overall goal and, as you mentioned, the same drive and enthusiasm for the long haul.
          Great discussion topic by the way Scott.

  4. Having worked as a project manager in technical/business for a few years and know how difficult it is to keep the ball rolling. A few months of intense work is easier to motivate for, but when it will take 6 months to 2 years to begin to realize anything from the project you start to see peoples focus dropping off due to their lives moving on (family, sports, promotions.) I have always been the guy who gets things done, but it always takes more time/money and effort than anyone thinks it will at the start. Having said that, lets start with the first step.

    I suggest making each task worth a percentage of ownership. All the money goes back into the business until 2 years have passed and the business is making money. There will be upfront costs for hosting or equipment and this will allow some people to buy some ownership percentages. So after 2 years the ownership has been shared with the individuals and then the profits from the site will need to support further work to be done. Any extra profits will then be available for distribution based on ownership percentages.

    • That is an interesting angle Wayne, I would say that IF the main areas could be agreed upon in relation to percentage ownership that could work but wouldn’t solve a bad partner choice at the start, perhaps with some completion checklist that could forfeit certain rights/ownership if anyone failed to complete their workload that would allow the focused individuals to continue to success taking on a new partner if one failed rather than folding the project. Ultimately I don’t know if there would be anyway to help find the best people to put together at the start, if you get that right it negates a lot of the concerns down the road.

      • There is no way to completely avoid hiring a bad team member, but there are plenty of books on hiring smart. I could recommend a few if you would like.

        • Forgot this:
          Looking for team members is like looking for someone to hire…because that’s basically what it is…even if they end up owning more of the project than you.

        • Carl,

          I would like some recommendations on books to read about finding good team members. So far I have more or less flown solo, but would be very interested in teaming up with another hardworking person.

          But how to find them?

          That is the question, and any book you give which might have answers would be appreciated

        • High Scott, but not that Scott,

          As i mentioned in a previous comment, looking for team members is a lot like hiring, therefore I have a few recommendations for you, some books, some podcasts, some just from me :) (maybe i should do a blog post on this?)

          First, one of the few books i kept around after i read it and i review it every time i contemplate adding team members / or interviewing for a position myself is 45 Effective Ways for Hiring Smart This is a wealth of information, but it is definitely NOT the end all be all guide to hiring or adding team members. However, it is the best I’ve found in book form.

          Second, Manager-Tools podcast, specifically http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/04/effective-hiring-set-the-bar-high/
          and http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/10/performance-improvement-through-effective-hiring/

          Third, one of the things you need to take special consideration about, is the ability of that partner or team member to SCALE. If it is a successful venture, your going to wind up with more responsibility than when you started. Hence, the ability to scale in responsibilities is absolutely necessary. I’m not saying you have to hire a potential CEO or COO or something. But this is probably the most overlooked yet absolutely necessary ability in finding a team member. I’ll maybe write up a post or something on my blog to explain the process of hiring or finding a team member. It seems to be a hot topic as of now.

          Thanks for the question Scott, and I hope I answered it. Any more info check my blog or shoot me a msg @ my contact form.

      • You are absolutely right Scott, a task not in by the due date is up for another person to complete and earn those shares.

        Here is a preliminary spreadsheet to get the idea rolling:

        http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=plJndIbR0ajxvZ-VMKK8aFg

        I have made it public for now, once we have the members in place I will restrict who can edit it, but will leave viewing open so everyone can see how it grows.

        • So basically your talking the pre-project management work breakdown. The Roles, Responsibilities and organizational structure. Once rolls and responsibilities are collectively decided on, then the actual project will start. Generally, this is a task of a project manager, however in larger projects it is sometimes called a program manager that makes these decisions, placing a PM and other team members in their positions. However startups are unique in that this program manager role can be fulfilled by committee or by the person bringing up the idea in the first place.

          I like the spreadsheet BTW, but you’re missing .1% ;)

        • Hi Wayne

          I checked out your link, but am not sure what exactly you are planning to start your site for.

          Is that something you are still in the planning stages of? You might get more people on board with it if you have a general theme decided on

  5. This is why “get rich quick” schemes never work. This is also why everyone has the next great idea, but very few become successful at it. As Scott pointed out – lots of things to check off. And alot of time and effort and/or money needs to be spent to move towards success.
    The entrepreneur either has to acquire all the skills himself/herself, find a partner or partners with those skills, or spend money to hire the skills.
    Hey! I’ve got a great idea! Start an online company that provides those services to the budding entrepreneur! Need a coder? Hire one from us! Need an Illustrator? Need a salesperson or marketing whiz? We can provide! (note to self: re-read first paragraph . . .)

    • I agree, this is why get rich quick schemes do not work. Not many have the skill to accomplish all of these tasks to a satisfactory level. And those that do still need a bit of luck making it all work in the first place. As far as hiring people, there are plenty of freelance websites and even craigslist that do just that – advertise freelancers for hire.

  6. Interesting post and some great discussions (not over a 100 comments yet though :) )

    I do like Ed’s idea of having a company that can hire out the various skills. When you first start a businesses you do not need a full time accountant or web developer but you will need their services to varying degrees.

    One thing that I found with expanding my sites and writing team is that I spend more and more time managing other people, I do have experience in this area but it’s not a job I particularly enjoy so if I could offload the management to another company or probably partner that would be ideal.

    From Scott’s first list I reckon a lot of those tasks could be hired out to third parties without needing to make them partners but when it comes down to overall management I reckon that’s the time you need to be taking on employees or a potential partner.

    • Unfortunately, for those people who have little or no money to hire someone, bootstrapping and/or partnerships are the only options. As for hiring outside management as a ‘contractor’, depending on the size of the task, I would venture to say you are correct in that hiring someone full time or making them part of the team is probably a better option.

    • Oh, and the # of comments doesn’t necessarily suggest a better post ;) At least from where I’m sitting. Quality over quantity man, or do you still go for the buffet style restaurants exclusivly?

  7. Nice retort Carl, I must admit I enjoy reading Scott’s posts more than my own. I’ve just checked your blog out too, very cool well written stuff you have over there. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey thanks a lot Al. That means a lot to me coming from you. And you’re right, why would someone want to read a post they wrote…heh. I’m the same way. Thanks again.

  8. I’ve hired freelancers to build websites before. A very important point was made earlier, which I think is worth repeating again.

    Everything will take longer than you’ve originally planned. Don’t underestimate how long it will take. A task that was supposed to take 2 weeks took 3 months+.

    Also, for project management, use 3rd party web services such as activeCollab.com

  9. Reading through all the comments, I’m beginning to get the impression that we are all talking about a large project here.

    I just want to throw this one out there. If you’re taking on a project to make a content-based site, then I believe you’re probably better off flying solo from the start, when you have a bunch of people in a non-professional setting (as well as when you are) there tends to be more than one shining star butting heads regarding what direction to take, making it difficult to get going.

    When I gave up on the whole team based thing, I had to reassess what my business model would be, it certainly wasn’t feasible for me to attempt to accomplish the ideas that came up with the team.

    When Scott made this post, I was under the impression that he favored doing it solo, because honestly making a content site doesn’t require more than one person, that is of course if time isn’t a big deal.

    The funny thing is I ran into your DP post talking about your 10k month and was surprised you showed what site it was that was pulling in that kind of money… and to my surprise it was coolest-gadgets. I actually started out a site at about the same time as you because I visited it when it was just starting out and kept a list of sites that were starting out at about the same time I was, uncrate was one of them and a handful of others. Unfortunately I lost the list in a reformat on my computer, but I remembered yours once I saw it. The site that I started is pulling in $500 a day and I’m projecting 200k hopefully by the end of the year. I consider you and uncrate and those other sites my colleague, and its good to see that the class of 2005 is doing well. Although I am unsure how much uncrate is making. I give credit that you are willing to publicly announce which site is pulling in the $$, however I do not have the kohonas to do that.

    Sorry for the blabber, but I was pleasantly surprised today :) . Anyways back to the topic… So as it stands, I’m actually now an advocate of if you want it done do it yourself. Of course this matters on what type of project you are tackling. I actually started a social community, but ended up not following through simply because I didn’t have the knowledge to complete one. I’ve noticed that coolest-gadgets has several authors, I actually still write all my post with a post frequency of 8 daily. I will admit I’m getting a bit tired of writing which is why I have stepped into the affiliate game, again another project that really just requires one person and a some research.

    I’ve written so much I sort of lost what direction I was going, but I truly feel today that having a team can hold you back depending on what project your are tackling, but I believe people who set out to make money online now a days are either making a content site with adsense and advertisement as the primary way of monetizing, or affiliate marketing. For those who are providing a service, again it depends what type of services to justify finding a team.

    Sorry for the long winded post.

    • Great post John, thanks for taking the time there. Al’s sites/post mentioned on DP is actually his CG/Gadgets website which is nothing to do with me.

      I am projecting $200k this year with my tattoo website John so I think you are confusing me & Al as we both post here however I am glad to hear your one of the class of 2005 and doing fantastically well by the sounds of it :) I am also a DP learner and spent most of 2005 reading every posts there trying to learn and make a difference.

      I also have started a social community site recently which is growing and is a partnership with Al as I know the basic script works but needs developed which Al can add value to ~ for another post!
      I think going solo works if your blogging perhaps as you can get WordPress installed and modified easily but when you start a website that has no available script that needs coding then unless you can do it yourself its a long and troubled road trying to do everything yourself while at the same time learning how to do it, from my point of view I am not a coder so it made everything a learning curve and having a reliable partner early on, say a coder, would have enabled me to grow bigger, faster & better with a good sounding board and input.

    • Thanks for the long winded comment John :) , seriously it was an interesting read and it’s great when people of your experience put the time and effort into commenting like that. I must admit having two main posters on the one site can be a bit confusing, it’s great in the way that we can take it turns and share our different areas of knowledge but we do have our own businesses and sites too.
      Al Carlton (Sagecroft Technologies): Coolest Gadgets + a fair few other blogs, forums and sites
      Scott Jones: Massive tattoo communities, other sites + businesses
      Carlton Jones the business: Self Made Minds + a collection of other sites and communities.

      It’s also great to hear another member of DP that was around in 2005 is continuing to do well.

  10. Its nice that the two of you are able to collaborate on something, I’ve yet to find success in that sort of thing :P . Actually my gf just started a site that I built from the ground up, thats probably the closest I’ve gotten to a partnership, I did all the work labor, she simple fills it in :P Talk about reaping the fruits of my labor kidding.

  11. As others have mentioned I’ve found it difficult to keep up communication with my business partner.

    You really need to make sure your goals are aligned and both are willing to put in the effort required. Frustrating for me has been that my partner is not willing to read and learn about modern marketing techniques etc, and to be honest he’s not really offering any extra skills to the table.

Trackbacks

  1. Carl Moeller says:

    Projet Management: Central Node Of Team Communication…

    I added another blog to my google reader a few weeks ago, and that blog is called Self Made Minds. Running through my feeds I came upon a post on SMM entitled Chances are your going to need some help, but the comments section of that post is the real …

  2. [...] did a great post about seeking help and the various skills you need to run a successful site and the fact that you’ll need some [...]

  3. [...] Perhaps you are running your blog solo a little too long when you should start expanding and delegating. Maybe you started a blog on Blogspot when you should have spent the $50 to buy your own domain and [...]

  4. [...] did a post on when to delegate and I did a post on the fact that you may need help along the way. What sites, forums & blogs do you guys use and recommend? SelfMadeMinds always [...]