There is no substitute for hard work

Your startup success ingredients list should look something like this:

  • 1 part well thought out idea
  • 1 part industry specific skillset
  • 1 part capital (don’t need much, but need some)
  • 1 part luck
  • 1 part timing
  • 3 parts monetization strategy
  • 10 parts marketing strategy
  • 5 million parts HARD WORK

I have been associated with Gangplank since the beginning and in that time I have undergone the arduous task of transitioning from client services to a SaaS model with our specialized WordPress Hosting company Also in that time I have seen good product/business ideas floated around Gangplank fall by the wayside, some terminated for good reason, some just never got the energy put behind them that they needed to get over the hump. That “hump” referring to everything that comes after the excitement of launching a proto-type and gaining your first 10 users.

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Chase Granberry at AuthorityLabs (another Gangplank anchor) is reaping the benefits of years of hard work, after a short stretch of finding his way. When his company first launched we all watched in dismay as he was a bit hesitant to really pursue it. After a few months when he zero’d in on the pitch and had a saleable (saleable != perfect) product he threw all his energy behind it and years.. yes YEARS later he has a viable, growing, and profitable business.

WordPress started as an idea nearly 5 years ago, was proto-typed in year 2006 and sat idle until early 2009 when we re-factored it, rebranded and spent nearly 8 months re-building it. Since then we have spent nearly every hour of nearly every day improving it, marketing it, and scaling it. Now, more than a year after launch and nearly 2 years of solid work, it is a viable, growing, and highly profitable business.

DesignWard Andrews from Drawbackwards (another anchor company) has been working diligently on a new site/service named for a couple years now. His goals for the site are lofty but easily within reach as Ward is a tried and true executor of good ideas. The time and energy I have witnessed him spend on DORG, working around the obligations of his marketing agency (and Call of Duty), are to be admired. The time is paying off, as evidenced by the exponential growth in traffic to his site over this last few months.

What’s the common denominator to the success of all these endeavors?  Hard work, in ample quantities. Hard work like I hope your dad taught you about. It takes a commitment to succeed that cannot waiver due to laziness, frustration, or even lack of skills (as they can always be learned, and Gangplank is full of smart people to help and guide you). Capital played a small part: Both AL and were bootstrapped (funded by revenue) for the most part and DORG was built from existing service revenue. Money is not a substitute for work.

A few other “startups” in Gangplank got to the working proto-type phase, but then flailed when their owners either lost interest, pulled the plug, or felt lost on the marketing side of things.  It’s okay to fail for various reasons, but it is never okay to fail (IMHO) for lack of willingness to put the energy in.

Ed Nusbaum has a saying that goes something like: “an overnight success, 8 years in the making”.

So to the point of this post.  If you have a idea for a new business or product, you will need to execute it. That involves more hard work and time then you may be willing or have the ability to put in. Be prepared to make that time and energy investment, as it is the primary factor of success. An aggressively executed “ok” idea is going to net way more success then a “great” idea that never gets acted on.

@strebel on Twitter

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