Starting your own business and devoting your time and passion to make it grow is a huge commitment. We’ve been a first-hand witness to the sweat and tears that our startup founders have put into their own, so we’ve gathered a few points that we have also learned along the way to help you before you stand your ground in the startup industry:
1. Identify what problem your product/service aims to solve.
The definition of a startup is “a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed,” says Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker.
So, what is it that you would like to solve? Perhaps you yourself have encountered this pain point and you would like to be part of the solution than of the problem.
The founders of our partners at DIBZ, Donald Saurombe and Leeroy Shoko were once in marketing companies when they realized that it took an average of 20 minutes to look for parking in the city and that they would need to allot this much time before meetings in order to not be late. Jonathan Deforge, Founder & CEO of scoutedby — a platform connecting talented individuals to the best business schools around the world, comes from a student recruitment background and saw the disconnect between business schools and MBA-seekers. Magellan Fetalino, Founder & CEO of e-invoicing platform Acudeen, was handling a small business who encountered difficulty in collecting receivables. You may just be in the same starting point.
Often times, starting entrepreneurs would ask themselves, “How does one know that the BIG idea is perfect enough to launch a business?” Perhaps it may not be that perfect, but it is important to ask the right questions. To put it in another way but to stress the same importance, Christian Besler, Chief Digital Officer of AC Health, mentioned in one of the #WECUBEASKS series, “Don’t focus too much on the idea, look for the problem. Be a domain expert in that problem, then more ideas will come. The journey is all about really understanding the problem and knowing how to solve it.”
Instead of asking questions that will create doubt in the process, ask yourself the real question that is, what problem would you like to address and see yourself facing 24/7? Then comes the how.
2. Listen to your target market/users.
Now that you know what you want to put out to the world, it’s time to identify your market. Are there more people out there who think that this is also a problem they would like to be solved? And even more importantly, how would they like it to be solved? Will they pay for this product or service? If so, how much?
But that may be getting too way ahead. The point we would like to get across is that we have to know the market very well and to listen to their needs.
Once you’ve answered the questions that will holistically identify your niche, the next step is to make your presence happen. Do this by understanding their behavior and figuring out the most engaging way to interact with them. Approach your target market as if they are part of the business that was made for them. Share true to life stories about how this business came about just to address their needs.
3. Keep listening to your target market/users.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to keep listening to your early users. This is how you stay in the game. Humbly listen to feedback and comments and address them urgently. Many times, we fall in love with our idea or product to a fault that we insist that this is the way it should be, without fully hearing out what the market is already pointing out. You might need to adjust your business according to a trend that your chosen market is induced to follow or to an arising need that directly affects them. Whatever this maybe, being able to hear out your market and provide solutions to them can offer entails brand loyalty.
Take Suzuki for an example, it may be best known in the U.S. today for their high-performance motorcycles and sports vehicles. But from 1910 to 1935 Michio Suzuki was best known as the inventor and purveyor of weaving loom machines that powered Japan’s silk industry. An inventor at heart, Suzuki started looking for other products to produce in the interest of diversification. Suzuki’s complete 180 might have even given the founders of Odeo and Twitter pause.
Be ready to pivot and to roll with the punches. And maybe to pivot again. This entails being prepared for startup and the hurdles that come with having one.
4. Know how to choose your investor.
After bootstrapping, self-funding, or having friends and family invest in your business, there will come a time when you will consider having an investor to boost your growth. Choosing an investor is like choosing a spouse for marriage. Should you get a financial investor or a strategic investor, and at what stage? Where would you like to take your company?
We see our partners pitch to various investors left and right. This takes a lot of practice. That is why you should start pitching to angel investors, move up to seed investors and once the pitching skills and/or your product or service come around – face the big investors to bag the big bucks. For the ones starting out, and as we have also picked up from investors themselves, one must be prepared to sell the dream or the vision. Big investors look at the spread sheets but aside from a unique idea, they also look at how much you actually know what you’re doing. You should know your product more than they do. Repeat that process and when the product starts talking, that’s when you have enough to show potential investors.
5. Develop a business plan all the way to exit strategy.
To keep a business up and running, recruiters believe that you need to have the right people. As much as this is true, the most efficient processes should be from people who also have a significant purpose to the business. Don’t build your processes around the people, align the people you need to the process that will bring your business to success. A good businessman knows that every day is either make it or break it, so be always prepared with a plan; no matter how it turns out. When your business reaches the peak, what is your next step? When it starts to crumble down, how do you save it?
If your business model is not flexible enough to fit an exit plan then maybe it’s better to rethink the business altogether and have a lifestyle business instead.
Did you think this was helpful? Do you have your other five tips? We’d love to hear more from you and your business! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.