And here they are:
- Social – websites focused on connecting with like-minded individuals. Includes social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), forums, and many blogs.
- Search - websites focused on organizing data into a searchable formats. Examples are Google (search, maps, trends, scholar, etc) and Wolfram Alpha.
- Utility - websites focused on a utilitarian, “Software-as-a-Service” function, often a replacement for some traditional desktop software. This includes online storage (Dropbox), web-based document editing (Google Docs), and web-based photo editing.
- Information - websites focused on the distribution of information, whether that be factual (Wikipedia), entertainment (any online magazine), or parody (The Onion). Many blogs fall into this category, with a possible blend of Social.
- Commerce - websites focused on the sale of goods, either physical or digital. The 800 lb. gorilla in the game is obviously Amazon, but a lot of smaller websites manage to carve out a niche, especially using dropshipping. However, this market has largely matured.
I thought of an idea for a cool website: Quote.me, a website completely focused around quotes. It would allow for fancy CSS-based quote displays, social media sharing, and embedding of quotes. I even built a prototype of the site, but it just didn’t feel right, so I scrapped it.
I finally realized what the problem is; it’s the same problem the destroyed Formspring.
Formspring is a website that launched in 2009, allowing users to answer questions submitted by the public; it got really popular (especially with celebrities and Twitter users) for a while, then faded into obscurity when Tumblr (among others) implemented their own version of the feature.
The problem is, creating an “Ask Me Anything” feature is trivial from a technical perspective, so as soon as Formspring got popular enough to attract the major blog/social network attention, they were doomed to go up against sites with 10 or 100 times more users. There was no competitive advantage for them, nothing they could use to defend themselves.
And that’s the problem with Quote.me – if it actually became mildly popular, existing sites would implement my features and make my site pointless overnight. Back to the drawing board!
Forbes wrote an article called Are You Only A Wannabe? 15 Ways To Tell. And let’s be frank: a lot of those 15 things apply to me. Before I get into the individual points, here’s my general takeaways on how I can improve:
- I need short-term goals in addition to my long-term ideal goals.
- My goals need to have deadlines and metrics.
- My daily to-do list needs to rank importance above urgency.
- I need to ask others for help more often.
Here’s a blow-by-blow analysis:
- Lack Goals: Well… I do have solid long-term goals, and a few solid short-term ones. What my goals lack are deadlines and metrics. I have no way of objectively saying I’ve achieved my goals (except for the wealth one, which can be measured in dollars), and no deadline I have to meet them.
- Don’t Make It a Habit: This used to be very true, but less so lately. I’m keeping a to-do list and updating it daily – my shortcoming is that I tend to get the low-importance, high-urgency stuff done, but neglect the high–importance, low-urgency stuff (a very common problem).
- Always Comparing: Somewhat true. I do feel discouraged compared to some people who are/were more successful than I was at this age, but I don’t dwell on it too much. Not really an issue for me.
- Doubt: I do have a lot of doubt, but honestly, who wouldn’t? Is it rational to believe you can do things you haven’t succeeded at yet, and very few people do? Is it smart to follow a plan without questioning it? No.
- Get Defensive: Not an issue.
- Procrastinate: This is definitely a major problem for me, and I really don’t know what to do about it. Fear has been a pretty good motivator, so maybe that’s the trick? Stay scared? The article implies that enjoying the work is key, but honestly, anything worth the effort tends to be unpleasant.
- Underestimate the Work: Not an issue.
- Develop No Track Record: Same problem as #6.
- Don’t Live in the Moment: This has been a problem for me, I’m working on it with my “Dig myself out of a hole” plan.
- Stop Improving: Not an issue.
- Driven By the Wrong Reasons: This is a re-hash of that whole “Entrepreneurs are mystical gifts from God” crap. I want to start a business to make money, and that’s not a bad thing; that’s the whole idea behind Capitalism.
- Won’t Ask for Help: This has been a problem for me. I’m not over it, but I’m at least aware of the problem.
- Not Always On: This applies to me, but like #11, isn’t a bad thing.
- Care What Others Think: See #13. To value other’s opinions is to be human.
- Afraid of Success: Not an issue.
As I watched this, something occurred to me: My long-term goal is to be Batman. Seriously, my goals are:
- Get wealthy
- Work on my martial arts
- Improve my moral compass
Put that all together, and what do you get? Batman. Here’s the TV spot:
I’m reading an article about bad things that happened to people who won the lottery. Here’s a list:
- Going nuts and spending everything (and then some)
- Making poor investments
- Drug use
- Frivolous lawsuits
- Robberies (physical and ID-based)
- Kidnappings (for ransom)
- Murders (for inheritance, OR out of resentment)
- Harassment for money (from strangers AND friends)
So, how can these tragedies be avoided? Here are 4 steps to self-protection:
- Have a money system – This would be an investment portfolio, created by a financial adviser if you don’t know how to craft one (which most people don’t). All of your money would go into it, and you would live off the earnings from it – this would enforce spending discipline, since you wouldn’t have huge sums of money at your fingertips. It would also allow for a “reset” if you messed up; just pay down your debts and wait for your next payout.
- Be anonymous – Do everything in your power to avoid tipping your hand. People (including your family) can know you’re doing well, but don’t let them know how well. Have a small business as a front, a place that people will assume is the source of your income (it will likely be just a fraction).
- Don’t do drugs – Seriously, this seems to be the start of most of these people’s downfall. It has to be tough, since dealers tend to target the visibly wealthy – but if you’re following step 2, dealers shouldn’t even notice you.
- Protection – The above steps simply protect you from yourself, and try to obscure your wealth from would-be thieves. What do you do if someone finds out about your wealth and comes for you? Take martial arts lessons. Buy a house security system. Carry a concealed pistol. Buy ID-theft monitoring and insurance. Shred your papers before throwing things away. Basically, be ready for them.
There are no guarantees in life, but you can at least stack the odds in your favor.