• The 7(ish) Day Startup, Day 1.5: The fastest pivot in history?

    Update (28 June 2015): In the first version of the article I neglected to mention that I did have a few email signups for WP Owner (which I’m very excited about and grateful for) and I’m still planning to do WP Owner as well (later in July).

    However I believe I can get ThemeValet out of the door first and WP Owner would actually benefit from a little more time spent on the MVP (though to too much of course, it supposed to be an MVP).

    I also think the ideas complement each other too so I don’t see the harm in doing both in a 7 Day Startup style (and I won’t be doing anything half-arsed on either I promise).

    If you signed up for WP Owner don’t be alarmed I still think it’s a fantastic idea (for all the reasons mentioned in the original article) and if you have ay feedback or questions about it I’d love to hear from you ([email protected]).

    – Nick

    So today I was going to write about what I would include in my MVP (minimum viable product) for my startup idea (WP Owner) as part of my exercise in following the 7 Day Startup book by Dan Norris (founder of successful startup, WP Curve).

    If you missed my article about Day 1, the premise behind the 7 Day Startup is that most people spend too long thinking about their startup idea, when they should launch it earlier and start learning from actual customers.

    In my article for Day 1 of the 7 Day Startup process, where I was brainstorming ideas, I ranked two ideas equally:

    • ThemeValet – a service which sets up WordPress themes (‘off the shelf’ website design) for business owners
    • WP Owner – the idea I chose, which would be a subscription based website that would give business owners a wealth of WordPress advice (as it relates to their business) and ultimately make them / save them a lot of money instead of hiring expensive WordPress consultants / developers for everything

    The good kind of doubts

    But since I shared that article, even with the small sample size that is my audience (around 50 email subscribers) and a few people on Facebook and Twitter, all the feedback I received was people saying they’d actually like to take me up on ThemeValet right away.

    Now, again it is only a small sample size and I’m not planning to completely change course every time I get a tiny bit of feedback, but it did made me think…

    • Maybe ThemeValet is a ‘better’ idea (solves a more obvious pain point for the customer) than WP Owner, on reflection I definitely believe that to be true
    • Maybe I like WP Owner more because I’m trying to ‘force’ a recurring revenue model idea (WP Owner) ahead of a non-recurring revenue idea (ThemeValet) and startup founders generally prefer recurring revenue to non-recurring revenue businesses for fairly obvious reasons

    A philosophical startup question

    Now I’m probably jumping the gun here just a little on the importance of this decision as it relates to my situation (I can easily do both ideas), but it does beg the general question:

    Is it better to have a great non-recurring revenue idea or a seemingly less good recurring revenue one?

    I guess the correct answer is, of course: it depends. And the second answer is: why not stop writing about it and try them both.

    If my non-recurring revenue idea is scalable and has a funnel of regular customers though, then to me it’s still a good idea and can qualify for Dan’s definition of a startup. After all the world is full of successful non-recurring revenue businesses.

    That’s not to say I can’t try to think of something that also (seems to be) a good idea and has a recurring revenue model.

    But given that we’re not talking about a lifelong commitment here (I’m just launching and testing one new business idea), I think I’d rather go with what seems to be the stronger idea first.

    Reasons, lots of reasons

    Some other reasons why doing ThemeValet first seems to make sense to me right now:

    • I can seemingly provide a much stronger MVP – On its own I don’t believe this is enough to necessarily make me switch ideas (and I do have some creative ideas already for a WP Owner MVP), but I can absolutely have an excellent MVP experience in place for ThemeValet by the week of 6 July (when I plan to launch).
    • If the idea starts to do well it will force me to ‘act like an entrepreneur’ earlier in the process – I also like ThemeValet because if it takes off in any way it forces me to scale it (hire people) earlier in the process (I can only set up so many themes myself a day and my focus really should be on finding new customers). Whereas the temptation with WP Owner would be for me to keep doing it myself forever, so perhaps it’s more of an exercise in being an entrepreneur instead of being lame and ‘hiring myself’ all the time which might happen with WP Owner.
    • It seems to have some customers already – OK, nothing is guaranteed, but I have two people I didn’t know previously express an interest in buying the ThemeValet service (as opposed to a few friends telling me they like the idea just to be nice). Also it means I have two genuinely interested people I can talk to and get feedback from.

    The elephants in the room

    I guess there’s maybe a few elephants in the room at this stage though:

    1. Finding a regular supply of customers

    My main challenge with ThemeValet doesn’t seem to be scaling it, but finding that regular supply of customers, but that’s just a challenge I will have to figure out and figure out reasonably quickly.

    As I mentioned in my last article, I don’t believe the idea of ThemeValet (or for that matter WP Owner) is inherently viral (again something that would, ideally, be great to have along with a recurring revenue model). That doesn’t mean I can’t find enough ways to at least attract a fairly regular supply of new customers though.

    In fact it’s an exciting challenge (and goes back to Dan’s point on only taking on businesses that you are passionate about growing).

    2. I didn’t launch WP Owner to decide if it was a good idea or not, instead I’m second guessing myself

    It’s true, I have absolutely done that and in the 7 Day Startup, Dan says:

    1. Spend one day picking an idea and move on.
    2. You only learn when you launch.

    And one of the main reasons I want to do the 7 Day Startup process is to provide a bit more structure and get better, faster answers, compared to my previous thrashing around with business ideas.

    However I want the process to be a guide and not a straight jacket. I also believe that blindly following any process in business (or life) is generally a recipe for disaster.

    And following the process so far has been helpful in any case:

    1. I’ve got some feedback from potential customers
    2. It’s forced me to confront some of the built in bias I seem to have about my ideas
    3. I’ve seemingly got some customers (always nice for a business)

    3. Day 1.5? What happened to Day 2?

    Finally, as mentioned in my last article, I don’t plan to do The 7 Day Startup in exactly seven days, but I definitely don’t plan to spend weeks and weeks on it either though.

    If things take a few days longer or there’s a couple of minor detours on the way I don’t mind.

    In my next article, I’ll share all my notes and plan for my MVP for ThemeValet.

    PS I’d love to know what you think (good or bad) about my decision (and the process that led to the decision) to change the order of which idea I tackle first in the comments below.

    PPS If you’re enjoying following along with this series you can subscribe to my email list if you’d like to know when I publish the next article.