You can do all the right things to build a business online and still fail.
You can do most of the wrong things to build a business online and still succeed, anyway.
Both happen all the time. So, tell me there's no such thing as plain, dumb luck; or plain, bad luck for that matter!
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, let's talk a little more about that wild card of the cosmos we all refer to as luck.
I typically fill this space every day with nuggets of tips and advice on how to better bullet-proof your technology decisions to better bullet-proof your business.
Not so today. Here's a list of five areas of your online business that largely succeed or fail based on good or bad luck.
1. Buzz. You can hire the best of the best in online marketing and PR. You can launch what you think is the killer viral campaign. You can blog, comment, Digg, Del.icio.us, Twitter yourself silly, leverage Facebook, and spend gobs and gobs of venture capitol money on search engine optimization (SEO) and that spark to light up your fledgling business still may never happen. Then again...
2. Building up major traffic to your site. Speaking of SEO, the pros would argue with me on this one that SEO is a "science". Do this, do that (pay someone else to actually do this and do that) and "BAM!" as Emeril would say - you've got big time web traffic. First of all, that's hog wash. Fortunes have been spent and lost to SEO consultants who sometimes deliver and more often don't deliver high rankings in the search engines. P.S. Less than half of all web visitors find new sites through search engines.
3. Consistent support from your supporters. It takes a village to build a village on the web. It takes a village of good, stable employees who don't jump ship to a better paying job as soon as they've made their mark at your company. It takes a village of vendors and sub-contractors who honor their committments and deliver what they promise. It takes a village of other players in the start-up of a company; from investors who don't get antsy and bail on you when you are so far down you can only make payroll one more time to advisory board members who don't get bored with your company and move on to something else. One or two unexpected weak links in the chain can kill you. One or two extra strong links can be the Hail Mary pass that keeps you in the game awhile longer.
4. Heads; loyal. Tails; fickle. Now I'm talking about customers. Building an online customer base is like playing Texas Hold 'em compared to building a bricks and mortar business customer base that is more like playing the Candyland game. Growing online customers and playing Texas Hold'em both require strategy and running the analytics in your head constantly as you play. But in the end, don't be fooled. Both still hinge on luck of the draw.
5.All the right tech moves. Off the shelf software or developing your own solution? Storing your data on the cloud or in a well air conditioned back room? Hiring a staff IT person or having a consulting firm on retainer? To Microsoft or not to Microsoft? The maze of make or break decisions never end and you can never foresee all the consequences while making them. Sometimes you get burned and sometimes that one application... well, there's a reason why they call them killer apps.
And that's no blarney.
Happy St. Paddy's!
Renee "O'ricchio" (the only day of the year my Italian surname get's an apostrophe)
Last updated: Mar 17, 2009
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio