antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

you don’t need ideas – you need questions

Paul Graham asserts that startup ideas aren’t what’s important – and, in fact, think you need an “idea” is a major roadblock.

Convert your thinking from “idea” to “question”, and you have a potential curiosity to explore, tweak, develop, and deliver.

Your best work is going to come when you’ve thought about the problem but didn’t know you were thinking about it.

So stop trying to get an idea – ask questions, and chase them down.

the “best” industries for starting a business?

I generally really like Inc magazine.

But this article is kinda ridiculous: “The Eight Best Industries for Starting a Business.”

By the time an industry has landed on a list like this, the odds that you’re really going to be able to capitalize on it are super slim. There’s nothing “wrong” with starting a business in any of those industries – but you shouldn’t pick an industry because it’s “hot”; you should start your business in the industry you know and are ready to compete in.

If you’re already running a business, perhaps expanding your market reach into some of these “hot” industries is a good idea – and perhaps not. Make sure you are solving problems and delivering solutions.

The rest is gravy.

Sidebar – if you’re relying on mass-market publications like Inc to do your business research, you’re doing it wrong.

geeks night out

Last week I went to the Geeks’ Night Out at Beerworks in Lexington.

One of the people I met was a junior EE major at UK named Robyn who, along with two of her friends, is looking to start a home automation company (The Unity Box) – but not in the realm of a company like Ambiance (interestingly, a company I was going to start with as a junior developer back in 2001 when the bottom dropped out of the tech bubble – but that’s another story). They want to make a small control device along the lines of a DVR or Roku that would control smart outlets/switches in your home (and be able to learn a la the Nest about your habits (with, of course, manual overrides for non-pattern events)).

Yesterday I found the WeMo from Belkin.

Robyn – looks like you and Belkin should talk: they’ve done the part about the smart outlets 🙂

passive income is not a business plan

Shortcuts.

Shortcuts are great.

But only when you know the long way.

Without hard work, the short cut will seem hard.

Passive income seems to fall into this category.

Some people think panhandling is a form of passive income. It’s not. The panhandler works for his money – he talks to people, shakes a cup, whatever: he gets your attention, and tries to make you give him what he wants.

I have a Google AdSense account. I am also an affiliate with a few other places. I put Amazon links into some posts. From those links, if any purchase is made, I get a small percentage back.

But they are NOT a business.

They’re a shortcut. They’re fantastic – but in the last several years of having an AdSense account, I have yet to see a check from Google. In the past several years of having an Amazon affiliate account, I’ve paid for about three books.

You hear of high-volume sites that make all their money off advertising revenue – advertising may or may not be “passive”. But to maintain a high-volume site takes work. Hard work. Lots of it.

You [generally] don’t magically get traffic just because you are the smartest person in the world (I should know, I get on the order of only a few dozen hits per week! :))

You get – and keep – traffic because you have content or a service that people want to use. That they rely on. That they interact with in some meaningful way.

My friend Jay maintain[ed|s] AIMFix. For quite a while, it was THE best (and only) tool which would remove viruses which spread via malicious links across IM networks – dominantly AIM. I wrote a small library he used (at least for a while) in that program.

He put a metric butt load of effort into that tool, and made a little money from the “passive” advertising he had on his site.

Then traffic tailed-off, and so did his AdSense revenue.

So many businesses are started online with the premise that they’ll “make money from ads”… with nothing more of a business plan than that. They fail almost universally.

Businesses succeed when they follow the tried-and-true path of “work-deliver-earn”. And, “spend less than you earn” [ref].

If your only plan for earning money is to park a bunch of ads on a domain, you may make a little money for a little while. Especially if you’ve managed to register a reasonable typo domain (eg “antipuacity.com or “antipauctiy.com”).

But you need to have a reason for people to want to come back. To engage. To use what you offer.

Make something I want. Give me a service I need. Provide me with content I’ll return to.

Or maybe, just maybe, build something I can buy and hold.

establishing a data haven cloud

In Neal Stephenson’s seminal book, Cryptonomicon, he describes the creation of a “data haven” in the fictional Sultanate of Kinakuta.

Why has no-one started building such a service (or, at least not in a public way) on existing cloud services (eg AWS or Rackspace) and/or create their own global network?

Data backup and replication is not “difficult” – and neither is the concept of distributed (and replicated) storage (LeftHand Networks was doing RAID-over-LAN a while before HP bought them).

So – why is this not available as a service to which you can subscribe (or use anonymously)? Incorporating in a ‘friendly’ country, offering anonymized connections (fully encrypted, etc), and giving a client that works a la Dropbox or Box.com.

There should be lots of companies who would love to offer a service like this – it should be fairly lucrative, and pretty easy to setup.