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September 10, 2005

Ding! You've nailed it.

Tugboat Enterprises on software development (transcribed from a Kickstartnews Revue podcast:

Some of [the existing products] would only work if you have a 2004 or 2003 era computer, and a 17" or bigger monitor. Anything other than that they just wouldn't work.

One of the benefits we had [...] is that we know the vast majority of people have older computers. And if you're going to service as much of the market as possible, you'd better be able to service those older computers.

An excellent point. You absolutely have to know your market, and a lot of people jumping into business don't. As an example, I knew a product I was working on would be used heavily in the education market. While I had a bevy of better tools available to me if I ignored users of older computers and operating systems, I'd be shutting out a huge portion of my potential market. Education and small business are notoriously underfunded and outdated; if you want to successfully reach either market, you've got to make things work on their terms.

Additional examples include the huge number of "paperless medical office" companies churning out unusable software because they don't have anyone with a private practice background on staff and they aren't soliciting feedback from the market.

Because the Tugboat folks seem like a nice crew, I'll link to their product. They offer Lifeboat, a file recovery utility for Windows systems. If your system stops booting, you can use Lifeboat -- a $99 program -- to snag what's still lurking on your drive. Haven't tested it myself, but it's been well-reviewed by others.

Granted, you'd probably never find it if you didn't already know it exists. Their site has the same problem a lot of smaller businesses have: it kicks Google in the nuts with a crazy "every page has the same title" design, and almost no text, which means you will not find Lifeboat via Google by searching for "Lifeboat" or combinations of terms involving data recovery.

So that's two business tips for a (late) Friday night:
1. Know your market inside and out. Don't, for example, make the gross error that education customers will be running the latest operating system on even vaguely recent hardware.
2. Be search-engine friendly. If you're not afraid of reading, visit Google's Webmaster Guidelines. If you prefer to have someone else do it, hire a (reputable!) Search Engine Optimization consultant, like Lesa Snider.

Posted by Colin at September 10, 2005 12:49 AM

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Thanks for the comments we are most appreciative and will be putting them up on our site with a link back to you. Love the story about the dolphins too, haha.

Judi - Tugboat

Posted by: Judi T. Wilson at November 9, 2005 12:03 PM

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