Lea Woodward (left) is an entrepreneur, whose projects include Location Independent, a site supporting those wanting to live a nomadic lifestyle, and Startup Training School, which teaches online tech skills to women entrepreneurs. On September 9th, Woodward will be hosting One K in 1 Day, an effort to have 1,000 women to each get a website up and running. But as she tells us, her 1,000 beneficiaries will need to be careful to resist the temptation to start a second website, and a third, and a fourth...
FAST COMPANY: What’s advice you’d give an entrepreneur just starting up?
LEA WOODWARD: I think the biggest thing I’ve found as an entrepreneur is Shiny Object Syndrome. You get so swayed by the next big thing, the next big idea. Looking back over the course of my career, I have moved on to so many new shiny things. I look back and think if we just stuck with one idea... I had it within the first three months—it was Location Independent. In the last four years, I zigzagged off on to different things. Now I’m back full circle, and Location Independent is doing fine now.
So it’s learning that sometimes the idea you should stick with may not be the shiniest one?
You see an opportunity and think, “That’s a cool idea, let’s build a site.” I’ve built 30 to 40 sites over the last three to four years. When I just had a random cool idea, I’d go to my husband, who’s a graphic designer. He’s used to me coming to him at midnight and saying, “I need a brand and I need it now.” There are 20-odd times I’ve done this to him in the last three to four years. But of those numerous sites I think we have about five left. Three of them we had the idea for in the first few months.
What are some of the sites in the graveyard?
There was one that had something to do with nomadic pets.
People who wanted to be nomadic and had a pet, and didn’t know how to travel with the pet. We got to the stage with a logo, header, and visual brand, but then we got to the stage of providing content. We don’t have pets, so we realized we didn’t know anything about this at all. We knew nothing about it, and had no contacts in the industry whatsoever. Then it seemed like a bad idea. That’s when we ditched it.
Now when you come to your husband at midnight, does he go, “Lea. No.”
I’m learning myself. I get to the stage sometimes where I buy a domain name still. Ask an entrepreneur how many domain names they own. At one stage I had about 90, which is apparently nothing. A lot of online entrepreneurs have 150, 200, as many as 300 domains registered. Not websites—just domains registered for an idea they had. Imagine how much that costs to renew every year! I’ve whittled mine down to about 18.
Is it such a good idea to put up 1,000 sites in a day, then?
Well, it’s not 1,000 for one person! It’s one per woman. Having said that, I already noticed that the people who registered, almost all of them have the idea for two, three, or more sites. They’re using the day to build one site, but already have the ideas for two or three more.
Is this as much an addiction clinic as a startup camp?
I’m there as a gentle adviser, to say, “Do you know how much effort it takes to actually get one site to work? Pick one and stick with that. Get that flying before you move on to the next one.” It’s a common problem for people who want to build their online empire—do you have just one site, or do you need multiple sites?
What was the URL going to be for your nomadic pets site?
I think it was locationindependentpets.com. At one point we were really pushing the acronym LIP. We had location independent professionals. Then we had parents, pensioners, and pets was the last one. I think that was it, only because I don’t think I could think of any more p-nouns.
You registered all those .coms?
Yep. And the .orgs and .nets.
Is there a name for this problem?
I call it DNA—domain name addiction.
Did you register that one too?
No. Perhaps I should...
[Image: Flickr user Joe Flintham]