Surprisingly, the if you build it, they will come mentality still seems to be the practice of too many web site startups. Even those that say they know better, still practice the myth anyway, perhaps for lack of anything else to do. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, since I also see this practiced regularly in brick and mortar businesses. Family restaurants open, life savings are spent, homes are double mortgaged, and in three months, the restaurant closes. I often wonder why anyone would start a restaurant if they couldn’t afford to run if for at least 6 months without any expectations of income during that time. Yet so many close before there should even have been expectations to grow.

The list of overnight successes must statistically be near zero in comparison to those businesses that built what they have over a period of time, in a dedicated and determined fashion. So let me for a minute, properly reword the if you build it they will come mantra, as this:

If you build it, and
get people to try it, and
listen to their impressions of the site, and
make adjustments accordingly, and
get them to try again, and
listen again, and
adjust again…

Continue that process, while inviting more people to try it, slowly extending your reach, building a firm foundation of dedicated users who have clearly experienced your commitment to listening to them, and responding accordingly. Your product will be what they want, they will feel like part of it, and in turn, being the humans they are, they will tell others. Ask them to tell others; reward them for telling others. After that? Start at the top again…and repeat.

One more tip, don’t waste your time judging your success by your Google Analytics report. Web stats show views and nothing more. You’ll need to talk to users to really get a feel for the impression you are making on them. Stats can certainly help you see what recent marketing campaign worked, and some other helpful info, but at first, watching your site stats simply reinforces the false myth that you should expect overnight growth. If you are engaging your customers, and really paying attention, you’ll know if you are headed in the right direction, even if your site stats don’t see it yet.