These bits of advice come from a big sheet on the wall in Esc HQ. They have been collected throughout 2009 and reflect a lot of reading about what it takes to start your own thing.

Most of them have come from someone else’s book, blog post, magazine article, tweet, etc. I’m sorry not to be able to reference them properly as have forgotten where they all originally came from.

I thought I would get them off our wall and onto your screen

I can safely say that the following people feature prominently in having influenced our direction: Seth Godin, Chris Guillebeau, Chris Brogan, Hugh MacLeod, Innocent, Tom Peters, Jeff Jarvis, Al Humphreys, Ben Keene, Tim Ferris.

Many of them have greatly helped the genesis of Escape the City (whether they know it or not). The chances are that a lot of the advice came from them. A big thank you to them all.

What do you think of the list? What is missing?

52 great bits of advice for any start-up

  1. The heart of any start-up is your customer, not your ‘cool idea’
  2. Stay focused on your mission
  3. Enter the ‘experience economy’ by providing “customised service with showmanship
  4. Engage with your customers on your blog through 1) entertainment, 2) education, 3) escapism, 4) aesthetic appeal
  5. Businesses sell experiences when services are personal, enjoyable, and memorable
  6. A network of 25 people can account for 33 million possible connections (Reed’s Law)
  7. Businesses should give customers what they want… fulfill their passion
  8. Test, Test, Test – find out what content attracts / repels your audience
  9. Recruit people who are waiting to hear from you rather than converting people who aren’t
  10. Be hyper-selective and only filter for customers that add value
  11. The only way to spread the word about an idea is for that idea to earn the buzz by being remarkable
  12. Make it easy for people to send you their problems / worries / challenges
  13. Work out whether you want to build a channel or a community (i.e. who dictates the content?)
  14. Competition can be scary but it helps to validate the market
  15. Work only on things you can genuinely add value to (outsource the rest)
  16. Assume that the viewer has the attention-span of an espresso-crazed fruit fly
  17. Find a word or a phrase that you can own in Google
  18. Do you want customers or members?  The web likes businesses that have members
  19. Show don’t tell.  Sell the dream.
  20. Be bigger than you really are
  21. Create a compelling story and be remarkable
  22. Find some peers and push each other
  23. Inspire, Educate, Entertain
  24. Solidly address the concerns and problems of your target audience
  25. Links are the currency of the internet – Link to your brand
  26. Have top-notch content
  27. Market based on your customer’s need to buy
  28. Create credible, original content in as many forms as possible
  29. Provide valuable, timely information
  30. Custom-tailor your service to your users’ preferences
  31. Be easy to read, interactive, well-organised, fill a niche, dominate a subject
  32. Use an appropriate and memorable metaphor
  33. Start.  Start small.  But start.
  34. ‘Someday’ is a disease
  35. By spreading ideas that help others you get credit and people get the help that they need
  36. Use customer service as an opportunity, not a cost centre
  37. The future of business is social
  38. Build informal armies, get your soldiers to internalise your goals and your efforts
  39. Transparency is a business model
  40. Organising information to make it more accessible to other people is a business model
  41. Worry about users not money – because on the web money follows consumers
  42. Think of yourself as a means, not an end
  43. Living your business in public is a matter of enlightened self-interest
  44. Customer service is the new marketing
  45. Don’t build a community – build a platform for a community that already exists to interact
  46. Small is the new big
  47. The cost of independence has dropped
  48. Ignore everybody
  49. Invent your own business model
  50. Google is not an enemy, Google is a model
  51. Life is too short not to have an ‘evil plan’
  52. Got a dream? Live it
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