Last week I participated in a roundtable organized by Carmel Ventures, with probably 20-30 entrepreneurs in the room. I recommended they all read Moneyball by Michael Lewis – a book I read a couple of years ago. I think most of the people in the room didn't have a chance to take note of the recommendation, so I'm repeating it here.
- Look at the same game differently – Most startups compete with many other companies for the same market share. In the online world in particular you are likely to be competing with hugely successful companies like Google, Yahoo, Amazon, etc. You can't win by playing their game. But you can absolutely win by playing a different game in the same space. An example that comes to mind is Yelp – while all other yellow pages and review sites are focused on getting readers and selling to advertisers, Yelp seems to be playing a completely different game. It looks like they are focused obsessively on their reviewers – giving them tools, recognition, community etc. Yelp is looking at the exact same market as all other yellow page companies are, but playing a totally different game.
- Understand what metrics really matter for your business – the metrics that *seem* to matter for your business might not be the ones that really determine your eventual success. Moneyball shows how the Oakland A's found that most of the metrics that baseball teams have been using for decades (batting average, # of steals, etc) had little or nothing to do with how successful the teams were. Another example is a post I wrote recently about how PV's and ad revenues might not be the best success metrics for publishers.