The founder of FamiliesGo!, a travel website, weighs the options for her start-up’s growth.
One of the first things another entrepreneur said to me when I was getting feedback on the viability of FamiliesGo! was that I ought to think about whether I want to keep things small or “go big.”
I think about it a lot and can see the possibility and appeal of both paths. I can see the potemtial to grow FamiliesGo! into a brand that is much bigger than me—something along the lines of TheKnot.com. I can envision the website flourishing with diverse content, tools that can generate a “freemium” price strategy, and brand extensions into apps and electronic guidebooks.
But I can also see the appeal of making FamiliesGo! as an extension of my personal brand. It can be a vehicle I can use to leverage writing assignments, speaking gigs, maybe a book or two and supplement it all with ad revenue. Growth would be there, but on a modest scale.
When I tell others about FamiliesGo! I always talk about the bigger idea. So I have to acknowledge that on an instinctive level this path appeals to me. I think what makes me hesitant—aside from the work-life balance thing—is winding up in a position where I take outside money and then have to work at a pace my investors’ set, rather than at my own pace and because of that, I miss something important and good.
There’s a scene in The Social Network movie where Sean Parker tells Mark Zuckerbeg that they shouldn’t start worrying about monetizing Facebook because they don’t know what it is yet. And that’s how I feel about FamiliesGo! My ideas about what it can be and what my role in it ought to be changes daily. I want to have room for trial and error, and time to let my company come into itself more. I don’t know what it is yet.
My initial thought was to do what I could on my own for two years, maybe three, and then look for money if I need it. In New York, where 20-something techies start shopping for VC money before they even have a name for their business, this plan seems absurdly timid. But I recently read a great blog by an entrepreneur who is seeking investors so that he can rev up his art-related dotcom after 10 years of growing it slowly on his own. So I know my plan isn’t totally kooky.
For now, going big or going small is really less important than simply moving forward and making the right decisions for the business as I plod along. If I do the day-to-day stuff well, follow my instincts and make the right small choices as they come up, then I think the big question will take care of itself.