One of the most difficult things for me to accept as an entrepreneur is the fact that — more often than not — nobody really cares about my products and services. Naturally when I am excited about something I expect the same enthusiasm by everybody else. This almost never happens. Yes, there may be interest, sometimes real, more often probably just out of politeness. But almost never the level of enthusiasm that I have. This enthusiasm, this energy is the reason why new projects are started. If nobody cared about anything, no innovation would happen. There always needs to be someone who cares first.
The importance of marketing and sales
As an entrepreneur it is my job to prove the world wrong and to make them care. That’s why marketing, communication and sales are so crucial, yet often entrepreneurs don’t focus on it enough because they believe that customers and users will enthusiastically run to them in the thousands. In some rare cases this happens, most often not.
Shutting down some experiments
So today I did something that I rarely do and maybe should do more often. I am shutting down two projects — actually I like the term experiments much better.
1. Ayom VIP
One year ago in December 2012 we have started the Ayom VIP service. It’s been a premium membership for our Ayom Webmaster Forum with access to a private forum and some more premium features. We had 35 paying subscribers. The problem was that 32 of those 35 subscribed in the first 2 weeks during our massively discounted and time-limited introductory Groupon-style offer. And then in the next 9 months only 3 more people subscribed. The premium features were only used very little. So in September 2013 we decided to cancel all subscriptions and let them run out. R.I.P.
2. Ja zu fairen Arztrechnungen
Today I have shut down my grassroots-initiative Ja zu fairen Arztrechnungen. On 30 Dec 2013 I have announced the shutdown, and hoped that some people would at least say good bye. There was no reaction. Nobody cared. Another proof that the initiative made no sense — at least not in this form. R.I.P.
Lean Startup thinking
The point is — and this is painful to accept — that such shutdowns make absolutely sense. It’s the way innovation happens. You try a thing, most often it fails, sometimes it sticks. This is why I love the concept of Lean Startup. It takes the pressure away. You don’t create ‘companies’ or ‘projects’ or ‘services’ anymore. You create experiments. You go out and test something. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, you change and iterate, or eventually stop. You embrace failure. You embrace change. You don’t identify yourself with your experiment too much. It’s not you that has failed, it was the experiment.
So let’s experiment some more! Shutting down stuff is painful. On the other hand it is necessary because it creates the space you need for new things.