I had an online business for 10 years. I made a successful exit a year ago and I still keep an active eye on the market. The following business tips are actually pieces of my own experience, broken down in several areas: projects, strategy, team, money and partnerships. Feel free to add your own in the comments, if you feel like. Oh, and if you’re into big lists, you may also enjoy 100 Ways To Live A Better Life and 100 Ways To Improve Your Blog.
This is what you are actually doing, the results of your activities. Most of the time, those will be websites with various degrees of complexity. Creating, managing and improving services is the core of your online business.
1. A Brilliant Idea Is Worth Nothing
I can have 100 brilliant ideas per minute. And I’m not joking. I know a guy who can have his brilliant ideas in his sleep. Guess what: he’s not an entrepreneur. An idea without action worth nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Focus on your immediate resources to make something plausible working as fast as you can rather than waiting for something allegedly brilliant to grow by itself. It never happened and it will never happen.
2. You Sell Processes, Not Products
In the online business, what you are selling is not a product, nor even a service. It’s a process. You sell an entire experience, regardless of your niche. From a personal blog up to a link directory, what you are offering is not atomically identified as one single product or service but as a unique process. Is this unique combination which creates the value behind the business, not the parts. Look at the whole experience, not only at the most visible pieces of the puzzle.
3. If They Copy You, You’re Good
One of the most accurate proofs that you’re doing a great job, is your clone trend. If your site / product gets cloned, you are in for something. If you’re not cloned at all, something must be wrong. Many young entrepreneur have this fear of not being copied. In fact, being copied is the only surefire sign that you’re good. Of course, you WILL have to deal with all the legal hassles of content theft or copyright infringement, that’s for sure, and I’m not advising in any way to ignore that. I’m just telling you this is a sign of success and should be treated like this.
4. Don’t Look For Traffic, Look For Trends
One of the most present obsession among online entrepreneurs is related to traffic. How much traffic I could generate with this project? In my opinion, traffic is overrated. At the speed of the Internet, traffic is becoming really volatile, users are bombed with loads of information each hour, so rough numbers are not a reliable way to judge your product impact. Instead of numbers of visitors, look for trends: how fast is the site growing / slowing down? Think in percentages, not in thousands of users.
5. The Network Effect
If you want to launch an online business, think twice. It may be worth to launch 5 online businesses at the same time and link them in a network. Maybe your flagship idea will consume most of your focus and resources, but having 2-3 satellite websites / projects orbiting the main product will have a bigger impact. Not to mention the learning advantage: you will incorporate much more knowledge from a network, than from a single product.
6. If You Don’t Like It, It Usually Won’t Work
If you don’t like your idea, but you “feel” it will generate lots of money, usually it will won’t work. It might generate lots of money, if it exploits some market uncovered niche, but without your enthusiasm fuel, it won’t be there for long (by jason white). It will be extinct faster than a passion fueled idea. A good project must give you the thrills, not the only the money as empty numbers.
7. Fall In Love With Your Project
If you experience familiar sensations, like chills and butterflies in the stomach, whenever you’re thinking at your project, that’s a sign you’re falling in love with it. No, it’s not awkward. No, you don’t have to block those feelings. Let them express and treat your project like you would treat your beloved half. I’m not joking.
8. Measure, Measure, Measure
Always use all the available metrics to see where you are with your project. Don’t be fooled by your imagination nor let those wishful thinking episodes get in your way. Measure your impact. Watch your money, trends, team, partners and see what’s happening. Keep your eyes opened and be ready to cut if things are not looking as you would expect. Better sooner than later.
9. Manage The Break Up
Sometimes, your projects won’t work. Accept it. Even more, manage them carefully. Closing a project is a skill in itself, a skill that you’ll have to master. Each closed project may (and it should) give you resources for the next one. Just leaving debris floating around in the web universe will not make you popular, on the contrary. Not to mention the hidden costs of keeping those projects around.
10. Build A Community First
Your product (or process) will be useless without a backing community. It might be the next best thing since sliced bread, but if you don’t have a reasonable pack of people vouching for it by using it and promoting it every day, that product is as good as dead. Building a community first is one of the awkwardness of the online field, when you have to build a positive reaction around your product even before launching it for real.
11. Be Curious
Don’t assume you know everything. Allow yourself to be curious about stuff that looks interesting or intriguing. Creating good online products (or processes) is often the result of an unstoppable curiosity about “why is this like this and not the other way around?”. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but that really has nothing to do with your projects. Really.
12. Your Projects Are Your Teachers
You learn by trial and error. There are no foolproof books on how to build a successful online business. Even this list is the result of my personal experience and believe me, it isn’t foolproof at all. It may or it may not work for you. And you will never know until you go out and start doing stuff. Don’t search for the perfect recipe of a successful online business because you will never find it. Just do stuff and you’ll learn how to do it by yourself.
13. Plan, Plan, Plan
Carefully write down every step you need for your project. Create milestones. Respect them. Try to predict any potential danger and take it into account. Planning thoroughly your projects will be the best service you can make to yourself and to your team. Sometimes you’ll realize the project is simply not worth doing, when you realize how much work really is involved. Sometimes you’ll realize you need fewer resources than you initially thought.
14. Build Discipline
You already have high goals, all you need is some discipline. The bigger your internal discipline, the higher your chances to respond well to market changes. Being disciplined won’t make the field less hectic, you’ll still be walking on very thin ice, but you’ll be able to react faster to external change.
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15. The Excitement Stage
Each project has an excitement stage. It’s the beginning, the novelty, the thrills of making something happening. It will not be like this for ever. Many entrepreneurs are abandoning projects after this initial stage, and that’s a pity. Just use the fuel you get from this enthusiasm but still walk the path when the thrill is gone.
16. The Involvement Stage
After the excitement come the real action. This is where you actually start to implement the processes in your business. It’s a long and sometimes tedious interval. In my experience, the involvement is the most expensive part, in terms of time consumed, skills and money. This is where you build your business, stay there.
17. The Measuring Stage
This is where you start drawing lines and do the math. This is most of the time the moment you know if the investment was good or bad. It’s fundamental and you should not skip this under any circumstances. Be sure any project have a measuring stage, in which you can decide the resource allocation.
You will need to do things in a certain way to maximize your chances to succeed. This “certain way” is what we call strategy, from the general business attitude to specific approaches.
1. Fail Often
Good judgment come form experience but experience come from bad judgment, Not entirely true, I know, but enough to make you think. Don’t be afraid to fail. Kill all your “brilliant” ideas by making them real first. 99.99% of the genial ideas don’t survive after you make them real. 99.99% is a big number. Prepare to fail for 99.99% of your time. The 0.01% is really worth.
2. Fast Is The New Slow
If you really want a piece of the online cake you have to think super fast. If you think fast, you’re slow. Technology is evolving at such a rate that you can almost hear it growing. The adoption of the phenomenon is the fastest in the whole humankind history. You’re doing business during a revolution. And, usually, during revolutions they get rid of the old / slow stuff pretty fast (think head chopping and you’ll have an idea).
3. If You Don’t Blog, You Don’t Exist
The old days of anonymous business presence on the Internet are over. You need an identity. Preferably, your own identity. And the easiest way to establish, maintain and promote an identity is having a blog. Blogging has become an internal part of the online business process, much like a domain name: without it, you don’t really exist.
4. Be Informed
Stay on top of the news but filter the information. Being informed is a balanced attitude. Don’t rush to become a hype whore, praising every single “next boom” idea, but don’t get too skeptical also. Watching the trends in the online business can be a business in itself, though you need a really good filter and a cold judgement in order to take only what’s really useful for you or your business niche.
5. Social Media Works
It might be overrated lately, I agree, but social media really works. As an observer of the online phenomenon in the last ten years I can tell you for sure that this IS a revolution. Much slower than it’s perceived or presented, but there is a real shift from consuming information to interacting in larger communities. Social media is a place where you really want to be if you want to do business on the internet.
6. Praise Your Success
I really don’t see any reason whatsoever you shouldn’t be proud of what you did. If you’re successful, let the world know. Being shy will not help you here. You’re acting on a field so crowded with information that even your own identity is difficult to persist, if you don’t actively work at it. Just because your clients know your name that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re perceived as an expert in your niche.
7. Don’t Focus On The Competition
But don’t ignore it either. This business field is so crowded that you’re surely having a lot of competition. Focusing on it will most likely drain all your resources. Instead, focus on your resources, on your projects and on your clients. Pure ranking (like I’m #1 and you’re #2) doesn’t really work in the online, but identity does. Work to establish an identity rather than engaging in competition wars.
8. Is This Really Useful?
Before starting to actually build your project make sure you’re able to respond a big, capital letters, no hesitation, out loud “YES” to that question. If you have the slightest hesitation, start the analyse over. If you will build something that wouldn’t make a difference (but it will just look good or shiny) you will lose. Your business must solve a problem. Period.
9. What Brain Real Estate Do You Own?
I usually describe branding as the real estate property you own in people’s brains. The “shoes” land is owned by Nike, the “luxury car” is owned by Ferrari, the “classy watch” is owned by Rolex, and “mobile phone” tends to be owned by Apple, lately. Almost every human concept can be defined as a real estate property in one’s brain. And a brand is actually the connection between that brain land and a specific product . Once you succeed in owning a pice of real estate in people’s brains, you’re set.
10. Don’t Listen To Them
Listen to you. Don’t listen to those who are telling you’re making a big mistake by quitting your daily job and starting a new business. You know better. They’ll praise you in a few years. So go for it.
11. Don’t Be Afraid
Yes it’s risky. Yes, nobody can guarantee total success. Yes, you may fail. So what? Being afraid will only amplify those possibilities. Accept that you can fail or succeed and move on. The beauty of the journey will soon make those fear fade like they never existed.
12. No Risk It, No Biscuit
Learn how to deal with risk and how to embrace it. There is no such business with “zero” risk. If it is, it isn’t worth the trouble. The bigger the risk, the bigger the payout of the business. And the online field is one of the riskier business fields you can imagine.
13. If It Was Never Done Before, Look Twice
Most of the time, an idea nobody had until you is worth the trouble. But if nobody implemented it so far, there must also be a reason. The “first of its kind” ideas are not always a sure win, look twice. This is not meant to inhibit your creativity, but to ground you more and avoid seeking novelty just for the sake of it.
14. When It’s Cooking, It’s Cooking
If your idea is starting to take off, don’t stop. You may be surprised how high you can go. Don’t just stop when your initial goal has been met. More often than you think, this initial success is only the gate to something bigger than you ever imagined. Don’t let yourself out of this bigger picture by remaining stuck in an initial, comfy, small success.
15. Seek For Advice
You don’t know everything. Fortunately. Because if you would know everything you’ll miss all that thrill of discovering the unknown. Just ask for advice when in trouble, don’t assume you know everything. Or do an online search. Chances are that somebody had the same problem before and the answer is out there.
16. Do Whatever It Takes
if you have to convince 100 people to make your project alive, do it. If you have to walk 1000 miles, do it. Do whatever it takes to make your idea real. Don’t think: “but this is too hard”. It isn’t. It’s your idea and you’ll be so happy when you’re going to see it live. So, do whatever it takes for that.
17. Trust Your Intuition
There are no schools for that, so it cannot be learned. Intuition is that instant light shed on a subject only for a split of a second, just enough for you to think it was there. Things are different in that light. Whenever you see it, trust it. Intuition can often draw the line between a “correct” entrepreneur and a brilliant one.
18. Practice Courage
This one can be learned, so do your best to learn it. Courage means doing stuff regardless of the context. Act with all your power towards making things happening. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to be afraid from time to time, it means you’re going to pursue your goal regardless of those fears.
19. Maintain Enthusiasm
This one can also be learned. If courage is the action, enthusiasm is the fuel for that action. Make sure you always have enough of that fuel. Seal your doors in such a way that depression will never make an entrance. In my opinion, enthusiasm is an asset bigger than any financial support you can get.
20. Do It For Yourself
Entrepreneurship is a fantastic personal development tool. Regardless of the outcome of your business you will learn tremendously out of this. Do it for yourself, not for the money (although money is pretty good, also). Whatever you do, keep in mind that there aren’t really failures or successes, there are only results.
21. Be Self Sustainable Before Asking For Money
Going around and asking for funding while you’re still on negative cash-flow will create more harm than good. At this eraly stage – which is most of the time unavoidable – all the funding you can find is either angel investors, either the 3 “F”: family, friends and fools. I gladly recommend the 3 “F” anytime, an angel will put a lot of pressure on your development and strategy. Once you have a constant, positive cash-flow, go out and shout for funding, they’ll line up at your door office.
22. Balance Your Expectations With The Market Status
When establishing strategic (and financial) goals pay attention to the market conditions. Always balance your own ambitions and expectations with real numbers from the market. If you don’t do that you’ll end up either aiming unrealistically high, either going under your true potential. If you’re that good, those realistic expectations will be surpassed by your results anyway.
23. Brand Yourself
In the online field, more than in any other I know, personal branding is compulsory. And by that I mean absolutely unavoidable. Your online presence will work while you’re asleep, while you’re on holiday, while you’re working hard on a new secret feature. Maintaining a solid, persistent online presence is the key ingredient to a successful personal branding. Don’t assume people knows everything about you, constantly reinforce what YOU want them to know about you.
24. Watch For Your Break Even
But don’t consider it a success in itself. That’s what a business have to do in the first place: pays the money invested in it. A common strategy mistake is to slow down after the break-even, considering that the simple fact of reaching it will further endorse the business. On the contrary, it’s only after the break-even that you’ll see how much your project really worths in terms of profit.
25. Network, Network, Network
Go out and meet new people. Clearly state your expertise and and ask the same from your peers. Let them know why you’re doing business and how. Join professional organizations and attend to informal meetings. There is no such thing as an upper limit to your connections in the online field.
26. Don’t Fall Into The Productivity Trap
Sometimes you get so caught in a productivity trap that you lose sight of the long term goals. You work so hard and so organized that you can’t see where you’re heading anymore. If you reached this level, it’s time for you to hire a manager. You’re en entrepreneur, you have to see the road and lead your people there.
27. Don’t Let It Eat You
A business is just a business, not your life. Took me years to understand that. Too much of an implication in your own business is not good. At some point, you’ll be burned out. Be sure to build some fences between your private life and your professional life.
28. Boredom Is Bankruptcy
If you get bored about your business it’s time to get out of it. Quick. Out of any imaginable dangers of a business, I cannot think of a one more powerful than boredom. The second you feel you got bored, make whatever you can to leave it. Otherwise you’ll end up having the worst job ever: being a bored employee (you) working for a bored boss (you again).
You can’t make it only by yourself. Period. Especially in the online field when the skill distribution is so wide and competences are so different. Creating a solid, articulated team around your projects is usually half way through success.
1. Hire For Attitude, Train For Skills
The first thing you should spot on a potential employee is the attitude. Then comes skills. And the reason for that is: attitude is really hard to change, but skills are easy to acquire. Look for a specific attitude, and then do your best to teach them the required skills.
2. Surround Yourself By Better Skilled People Than You
If you are going to build something from scratch don’t do everything by yourself, just because “you know better”. You may know where you want to go, but others know how to get you there. Don’t assume you know better, because you really don’t. Accept that others may have a better answer and find them.
3. Anyone Can Fail Once, But Nobody Can Repeat The Same Mistake
One of the best rules for human resources I ever had. Everybody is entitled to make a mistake. Even more, as long as they aren’t repeating the same mistake. Making mistakes is one of the safest sources of learning. Repeating the same mistake is a sign that the learning didn’t occur.
4. Ask For Feed-Back
Don’t expect your employees to know everything that has to be done, especially in the early days of a new business. There’s a lot of unknown floating around and they don’t always know exactly what you expect from them. Make a habit from asking for feed-back. Ask questions. Pay attention to the answers. They’re the people who are building your business, make sure they know how to do it.
5. Don’t Expect Respect If You Don’t Show It
Treating your employees like resources is not productive. They may have goals and milestones, but they’re human beings, just like you and they have human beings problems, just like you. Don’t expect respect if you don’t show it first. Of course, they may work without respecting you, that’s for sure, especially if they work because they are afraid of you. In my experience, a happy and respected employee is 100% more productive than a scared and humiliated one.
6. You Have More Employees Than You Think
In the online business, more than in any other type of business, your clients often become your employees. Online businesses are most of the times services and communities centered around those services. From those communities will rise your supporters and fans. Even if you don’t pay them directly, they are still supporting your business. They promote your business for free and they deserve a great service from you. And respect.
7. Accept That Some Of Your Employees May Have Bigger Salaries Than You
Another common mistake of young entrepreneurs is to consider their founder role is enough to get them the biggest salary in the company. Salary has nothing to do with that. It’s a reward for skills invested in the company. You should be happy when you find people capable to provide you more skills than you are able to provide. Remember, you own the whole thing, so the more value in it, the better for you in the long run.
8. It’s a Rental, Not Your Property
When you’re getting employees, be sure you understand that you’re renting their skills and time, you’re not owning them. At some point, they will find some other guy who’s offering something better than you, and they’ll leave. It’s natural. Don’t even dare to think your employees are your sole property, even if you trained and helped them. All people are equally free.
9. Challenge Your Team
Change goals often. Insert new metrics. Create evaluation programs. Don’t let your employees get bored. Challenge them with new ideas, projects or internal programs. You may offering a great long term package, a great salary and a comfortable working environment, but if you don’t properly challenge your employees, they’ll simply get bored. Boredom is not good for business.
10. Unplug Them From Time To Time
Everyone needs a break every once in a while. Make sure you create enough escape valves in your working environment. Also make sure to let them know about that. Especially in the early stages of a business, when the workload is bigger than you know, offering some unexpected free time gifts will have surprisingly productive effects.
11. Blend Their Responsibilities
This may go against what you know about specialization, but I had good results with it, at least at the experimental level. Make them switch roles (if they have enough skills for that, of course). create special events in which the managers are employees or the software architect will have to take care about the company’s hardware. They’ll suddenly have a much better understanding of the big picture of the company.
12. Give Up Reading CV’s – Meet People
I give up reading CV’s after the first 5-6 years and it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Instead, I started to go out, meet new people, attend to professional events. When I was hiring something, usually it was by word of mouth. CV’s are good, but they can only tell you something about one people skills, you have to “read” the man alive to understand his attitude.
From how to monetize your services, up to how to budget your expenses, money is the fundamental resource in any company. Especially in the online field, money is extremely important: the field is so volatile that you will need a lot of money skills to keep it stable.
1. Investors and angels
An investor will most likely buy your clients, contracts and market share. You will provide support for a limited time and then you’ll be out. In exchange, you’ll get money. It may take 1 to 3 years, and the you’re out. An angel will most likely buy your brains and work power for several years. In exchange he will provide money and possibly know how. Those 2 categories may have very different denominations, but never mistake their role in your business. Different insertion points, different roles.
2. Cash-flow Is King
Keep a good eye on your money, because in the online field, more than any other business area, budgets are volatile. They can disappear in a second. There is a tremendous pressure on your money from any possible direction you can imagine. Watching carefully your cashflow and doing whatever it takes to remain on top of it is the cornerstone of a successful online business.
3. Money Is Hot
Don’t let your money pile, move it around, buy more resources, start new projects but don’t let it sit. The temptations of accumulating money for “the bad days” is so high especially because the field is so unstable. But money is hot and if you stay too much in direct contact, it will burn you.
4. Services Are The New Ads
If you want to monetize your project go for services, not ads. Ads are deprecated. While they will still bring some cash in for a long time, they performance versus cost metric is rapidly decreasing. Ads takes too much space, their content is out of your control and the generated revenue is lower and lower.
5. Delegate Your Money Technicalities To A Professional
Hire a good accountant and make sure you understand what he tells you. Your role is to grow a business not to fill in tax papers or invoices. Because money is one of the most precious resources in a business, many entrepreneurs are trying to manage them directly. This is a scarcity mindset, rooted in something like: “if I’m not taking care directly of this money thing, it will go bad”. No, it won’t. Find somebody you trust and constantly ask him where your money is.
6. Shoot For Long Term Deals
Sacrifice some of the immediate profits for some long term relationships with your clients. Especially in the early stages of a business, finding and maintaining a pool of stable clients is crucial. Having a constant, predictable cash-flow is a fantastic relief when you have to build a whole new project from scratch.
7. Don’t Be Cheap
Doing online business is not cheap. At all. It might be easier to do some of the things you do in the real life on the internet, but it won’t be cheaper than in real life. Buy the best servers you can afford, the best laptops for your employees, the best software tools you can find. The speed of this medium is absolutely incredible, and if you won’t buy the best you can afford today, tomorrow you’ll be pretty much 10 years back.
8. The Two And A Half Rule
This was one of the most precious budgeting rules I ever learned while I was doing online business. Here’s how it works. First of all, be generous when you budget your project. Put slightly more money than you need in every area (development, hardware, etc). Once you reached a satisfying total, multiply it by two. And then add another half. So, the final budget will be two and a half bigger than the initial evaluation. This is a statistic based result. It just works.
9. Be Prepared To Lose
Some projects will work, some not. You will lose money at some point. Be prepared, it’s part of the game. If it’s not working, it’s not working. Don’t get stuck in patterns like: “I have to recover my loss”, or “let’s find who’s responsible about that, I want my money back”. You’re responsible. And money is just a resource. Don’t get stuck, because, as I already said it, the speed of the medium will simply let you behind if you don’t move.
10. Learn To Write, Understand And Sign Contracts
They’re good. Trust is even better the contracts, I agree, but before you reach the trust level, make sure you have your butt covered. Learning to understand contracts is also useful in order to know what are you really offering and what are you really getting. Even if you have a crystal clear understanding with your client in talking, put it on the paper. It’s safer for both parts.
11. Authority Is The New Currency
By that, I understand that you won’t always be able to monetize some of your projects, despite their obvious success. In this case, what you are getting back in exchange of the broadcasted value is called authority. It’s much more precious than money, because it’s much more solvable than money. You can only buy with money what money can buy, but with authority you can do so much more than buying things.
12. Money Is A Resource, Not A Goal
Too often money is seen as a goal. Everybody asks you: “how much money do you make?”. In my experience, when seeing money as a goal, you have a hard time working with it. When you look at it like a resource for building more value, it become much more manageable. It’s a resource, like any other one: time, people, tools.
This is about your partnerships both as an investor and at the company level. Partners are great motivators and more than often great businesses are started and made popular by a successful partnership.
1. Assess The Big Picture
Partnerships are based on trust. No trust, no partnership. Quite difficult to assess, because what you may perceive as lack of honesty or deception is most of the time the result of incidental misunderstandings. Real trust must overcome these. A real partnership works not without misunderstandings, but despite of them.
2. What You Get Is What You Give
Don’t expect partnerships to become rescue vessels for you. In a partnership there must be an equal amount of value provided by each part. Don’t hunt for partnerships as a substitute for your own work, or as safety nets when you feel you will fall. It doesn’t work like this.Â Be sure to provide at least the same amount of value you receive from the other part.
3. Look For Alternate Skills
When building a partnership, look for something you don’t really have. People often forget this simple rule and start searching for “like-minded” people. They are good to mastermind, to brainstorm, but a partnership must cover a part of your business or process you don’t handle directly. If you go for similar skills, you’ll basically create internal competition, not a partnership.
4. Keep It Alive
A partnership is like any other relationship. It needs a sparkle from time to time in order to keep it alive. Partnerships are made by humans and maintained by humans. Be sure to check in every once in a while and see if everything is ok. You’ll be surprised how many partnerships ended because of a simple, yet so often neglected cause like… boredom.
5. The Similar Size Principle
If you are small and partner with the big guys, prepare for war. If you are big, and small guys want to partner with you, you’ll want to eat them alive, at some point. This is how things work and size does matter. More often you’ll be wearing the small guy clothes, trying to make your way up to the giants. In my experience, this is extremely time consuming and the final gain is not that big. Find partners of your own size.
6. “No” Is Still A Word In The Dictionary
Learn how to say “no” to your partners. Don’t expect them to be always in line with what you think. Make your point clearly but keep in mind you’ll still need them. Saying “no”, generally speaking, is an art in itself, and one must master this art before entering any serious partnerships. Disagreement is normal, and out of disagreement brilliant solutions can rise. Don’t fool yourself with an idyllic idea of a perfect partner, they have yet to invent this species.
7. Who’s Carrying Who?
At some point, any partnership will become obsolete. Be very careful who’s carrying who. If a partnership is slowly becoming a burden instead of a competitive advantage just go away. Do it in a transparent yet pretty firm way. If you agree to carry unnecessary weight, you’ll end up moving slower. The same goes for you, if you’re the one who’s lagging behind. Extra weight in partnership gets quickly thrown overboard.
8. Each Partnership Has A Goal
If you start a new partnership just because it’s cool or you feel the need to have some company, better don’t. Each partnership must have a clear goal in order to succeed. It’s very easy for any of the parts to hijack the resources of the partnerships later on, if the direction is unclear.