Very early on, while meeting with our lawyer, another entrepreneur was present to give us some advice. He said,

During your development, you’ll come across other opportunities. Ignore them! Stick to what you know; stick to your business plan.

That was pretty obvious, even to us. Of course you stick to what you know.

compass.jpgMistake #4,5,&6: Not only did we fail to follow that advice, but we failed to follow it on three separate occasions. We had “Ferret”, a mid-size search engine tied to perl that was basically a cheap replacement for the expensive full-text search engines. We had “InSite”, which was Ferret tied to a web spider so, for a small monthly fee, customers could search your web site (remember, this was 1996 — before Google). And we had “Coordinator”, a web-based calendar that was never completed. In the end, we may have made a few hundred dollars in exchange for the hundreds of man-hours of effort.

If you believe in where you’re going, then go there. A company like Google can afford to give it’s employees 20% of their time to work on any interesting project; they can afford to take risks. For a small start-up, unrequired risk is death. You’re betting the farm on every project you take on. Remember that!