Guest Column: On the Web, Thinking Small Pays Off
For 13 years, I was privileged to serve as an editor at PC World magazine, the last four of which I spent as editor-in-chief. PC World’s success in print and online provided me with resources that most editors would envy. We had a team of more than 50 editors, writers, designers and product testers. Our editorial budget let us devote months to investigative projects when we thought the payoff would be worth it. And, in recent years, as we ramped up our ambitions online, we had a dedicated team of talented Web developers who turned our ideas into reality.
I loved my job, and knew I was lucky. But in May of last year, I decided to scare myself: I resigned my position at PCW and launched Technologizer.com, a site with one full-time employee (me) and extremely limited resources. My goal was to take advantage of the unique opportunities the Web presents to enable tiny media companies to compete with the largest media companies in the world on an equal footing.
Actually, I think small media companies built to thrive online have an advantage on the Web in some respects. After a year of this adventure, I’ve discovered that thinking small can be very powerful. And even if I were back at a major publisher with substantial resources, I’d call on the lessons that Technologizer has taught me, such as:
1. Don’t be wildly ambitious. Or, rather, do be wildly ambitious, but stay intelligently focused and brutally realistic at the same time. It’s better to keep your corporate to-do list short and actually get through it than to try to do dozens of things at one time and fail. There’s only one of me, so I can handle only a few major projects at a time-—but even if I had a larger team again, I’d be tougher about rejecting most ideas and concentrating on the most powerful ones.