As it's the end of the year I would like to look back on the last 15 years in the E-Commerce industry. Yes, scarily, I go back that long. And one of my first memories was being told by a major venture capitalist that "the internet is like CB radio, here today, gone tomorrow". The rest, as they say, is history.
When you start a business, you need to be a raging optimist. That's because, frankly, it's hard and many people don't succeed. So to stand a chance, you really need to have a sunny view of the future.
However, you also need to be a realist. A friend of mine was working in a new start up. He asked me if I was interested in investing, so I took home a sample of his product. In the meantime, he had managed to place it with a couple of major high street chains. I tried it with my wife and daughter who were in the target market. Neither of them liked it, so I declined to invest.
While there are many ways companies can differentiate themselves from the crowd, most business owners tend to focus on their offering and not the business as a whole. In this article I look how technology can give you a helping hand.
Venture capitalists deciding whether to invest in early-stage businesses will tell you that there are three things that they look for: people, people and people. It's a slightly trite saying, but my experience says there's wisdom in this approach.
I've recently joined the board of a financial services company that has gone from start-up to a multi-billion pound valuation in the lifetime of its founders. In fact, it's the only FTSE 100 company to achieve this entirely by organic growth. It's an amazing story and there are lots of lessons it could teach. A major part of the success has been down to one of the key early employees working alongside the founders.
The reaction to the post was interesting. I had a number of people contacting me via Twitter, both to agree and strongly disagree with my point of view.
The most interesting comments were from people who are considering moving into the contract world, which surprised me. It seems 2011 really is the year of the self-employed. However, based on those comments it's clear moving into the freelance world isn't quite as easy as it seems.
Someone who has just made the move tells me the key is organisation and learning the difficult skill of keeping existing customers happy while lining up new projects. It's a balancing act that many get wrong, leading to feast or famine scenarios which are both stressful.
So what tools are available to help businesses which are looking for help with an IT project connect with suitable freelancers? In my original post I mentioned Freelancer.com as a great place for businesses and freelancers to connect, but there are others I've tried: