Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lessons for Online Business


Got the following in a forward from a friend. Could not trace the origin of this article but really good stuff. If somebody finds the source, could you please let me know so that I can duly acknowledge it here.

- Hemanth


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It's 3:00 am and I just finished watching 300 for the second time (this time in IMAX). I sit here struck by a moment of clarity. Frank Miller must be an online entrepreneur in his spare time because 300 is the perfect metaphor for online business. Now I know what you're thinking, this guy has completely lost it, and to be honest, that might be not far from the truth
Nevertheless, here are 10 Lessons Frank Miller's 300 can teach you about successful online business…


Know your surroundings, and choose the battleground that most suits your strengths


Just as King Leonidas chose the Hot Gates as the perfect location for Sparta's stand against the Persians, the same methodology applies to deciding on the niche and hook for your new online enterprise. Do your research and pick an avenue where your skills will thrive and your competition will fall. Choose a plan of action that highlights your skills while taking away advantages of your predecessors. Just make sure you cover your back at the goat path! You never know who's sneaking up behind you!


A handful of well trained soldiers can out-perform thousands of weak ones.

The Spartan 300 stood against the million Persians for days because they were strong, well trained, and powerful. The same holds true for sites in the online marketplace. A well done site, where the owner takes the time to build a community and support it with continuous, quality content, has the best chance for success, even against hundreds of sub par competitors. At the end of the day, any successful formula requires repeat business, and you can't get repeat business if your soldiers died in battle!

A few good friends is better than an army of acquaintances.

The Spartan 300 drew their strength from their family of fellow soldiers on the battlefield. When it comes to online business, the temptation to work your way from one end of the web to the other begging for links is very high. Take the time to actually contribute to community sites like Digg, DigitalPoint, or even blogs you read every day. In the end, it will take you much farther by becoming a respected community member then a single comment that is never revisited ever could.


The gods aren't always right, do what's best for yourself, above all else.

King Leonidas knew that the Ephor were wrong when they advised him to stand down on the eve of battle. In online business, it is far too easy to read advice from people with sites that are more popular than yours and take it to heart. A lot of this advice is good but a lot of it is bad as well. Taking the wrong advice can cut you off from avenues that may be right for you, even if it wasn't for the person who gave it. Always do what is best for yourself, and never be afraid to experiment. After all, the Gods were all in the same position as you at one point in time. Remember that!


Keep your skill set sharp, cause you never know when you might have to defend yourself.

At a moments notice, the Spartans were ready to march into battle, with no hesitation. The same applies to EVERY area of business. Never stop learning, experimenting, and improving yourself. The moment you drop your guard, is the same moment your opponents take away your land.

Never retreat, never surrender.

Even to the bitter end, King Leonidas and his 300 fought for Greece, never retreating and never surrendering. While it's not so cut and dry in online business, in most cases this is great advice. A lot of people quit because it gets too tough to maintain their blog or too hard to keep the products up to date on their website. If you retreat, if you surrender, you'll never know if a month or two more of hard work might have paid off. You'll also never be a Spartan!

Constantly adapt to your changing situation, it's the only way to survive.

When the Persians dispatched Rhinos, the Spartans adapted and prevailed. When they charged in with elephants, they adapted and once again came out the victor. The web marketplace is no different. Technology is CONSTANTLY changing. If you want to stand atop a mountain of defeated competitors, you have to stay on the bleeding edge of technological advances to ensure your ready to ride the new wave the second it arrives. A spear is fine and dandy, until your opponent charges in with Lasers!

Never be satisfied with your past accomplishments, it might just get you kicked down a bottomless pit.

When the Persian messenger delivered his ultimatum to King Leonidas, he was cocky and backed himself up by the past accomplishments of the Persian Empire. What did he get for that? A trip to the bottom of a bottomless pit! (is that even possible???). While success is great, always look to improve on what you've done and never underestimate your competitors. The Web 2.0 world moves so fast that one days champion can be another days failure in the blink of an eye. Don't let your site get kicked into the pit. THIS IS SPARTA!!

Even a man-god can bleed.

King Leonidas proved that even the seemingly untouchable Xerxes was capable of bleeding after all. It is easy to look at the true juggernauts in a specific field and think it's impossible to compete against someone of that size. No one is untouchable, and great ideas rule the world. Be innovative, be cutting edge, and most of all be fearless even in the face of god-like competition. The history of the Web is littered with stories of the little guy rising up to conquer the great Internet beasts, with nothing but a better idea to drive them. As King Leonidas showed his Spartans, not everyone who seems like a God really is one!

Even if you're a hideous, misshapen troll, the right networking can get you riches and women.

Even in his hideously grotesque form, Ephialtes knew the value of networking. He made friends with Xerxes who ended up helping him to both riches and companionship. While you most certainly can use the web to find companionship through networking, from a business side networking can help you improve your income by leaps and bounds. If you make friends with other people in your niche, work on link exchanges and mutually beneficial collaborations, and actively contribute to sites with quality feedback and comments, there is no limit to the opportunities ahead of you. Know your strengths and know your weaknesses, and use networking to take advantage of both. If you can't be successful in one route, look at others. Constantly keep your best interests at the forefront of your decision making process.