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3 Questions Your Startup Needs to Answer in Order to Maintain Focus



questions you need to ask yourself to stay focused
Image Credit: Unsplash

When I was a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps at 22 years old, one of my captains at The Basic School was a rugged Marine who’d been awarded the Bronze Star for defending an isolated combat outpost from repeated Taliban attacks.

One day, he told me, “If you’re strong everywhere, it means that you’re strong nowhere. You need to gather intelligence, determine the enemy’s most likely avenue of approach, and orient your defensive position toward it. If you try to defend everywhere at once, you’ll fail.”

I’d offer similar advice to startups. The constraints of capital, talent, and time already leave you vulnerable to the competition’s every move. Trying to position yourself as a one-stop shop just spreads your resources even thinner. The question then is, why do so many startups still try to be all things to all people so soon out of the gate?

Too Big Too Soon

Startups often feel pressured to look bigger than they are. They want to show that they’re at the cutting edge of technology and get the attention of customers by promising a combination of features beyond anything that’s available on the market.

But buyers have become more and more savvy. They can smell even a hint of nonsense from a mile away. This is why they’re increasingly likely to conduct extensive research before making a purchase, which can mean requesting to test out a product before they buy it. When buyers realize that companies are overpromising and underdelivering, it damages the company’s reputation and lowers the likelihood of future success.

Every successful startup excelled at one thing first before expanding into other features. Netflix, for example, became the best in on-demand DVD rentals, while Amazon became the best online bookseller. The same can be said for Google with search, Facebook with connecting college students, and Uber with black car ride-sharing.

Since dominating in its core competencies, Netflix now excels in streaming services and creating proprietary content. Amazon is doing something similar — with the addition of selling all physical goods and offering cloud-computing services. Google still provides search, but has added email, video calls, maps, and even self-driving cars to its roster. Facebook connects people regardless of school affiliation and also runs a marketplace, Instagram, and WhatsApp, while Uber has branched out from a black car service into UberX and UberEats.

When you have nailed down your core competency and built it into a successful business, subsequent product lines must compliment your core business as part of a comprehensive corporate strategy in order to continue growing in a profitable and sustainable matter. Consider WeWork, for example, which had carved out a strong niche in the shared workspace market. The company began investing in more than just office space, moving into retail, housing, preschools, college campuses, food startups, and a wave generator for inland surfing.

That’s a lot of positions to defend — and a confusing corporate structure. That’s why it was no big surprise when WeWork recently pulled its IPO. The company also just received a $1.75 billion line of credit from Goldman Sachs to help clean up its debt and keep the ship afloat.

“What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.” – Dave Thomas

More Isn’t Always More

Adding features to match every perceived customer need is tempting. Logic would tell you that more of a good thing means an even better thing, but when it comes to startups, that’s simply not the case.

When my startup was pitching our product, which is smart camera software used for gun detection, to a large global company, the company pointed out that one of our competitors also uses computer vision to detect guns — on top of behavioral analysis, license plate reading, healthcare analysis, abandoned object recognition, people tracking for retail, and seemingly countless other applications. They asked why they should go with us when all we do is gun detection.

I knew of the competitor they were referencing. I knew the company was roughly the same size as us, so I understood a bit about their true capabilities and limitations. And I know that it’s not possible to be good at everything at once. 

I said, “If you need a bunch of bells and whistles, ask yourself whether it’s realistic for a seed-stage company to deliver effectively on all of these promises.” I suggested they hold the company’s feet to the fire and test the products rigorously before making a decision.

3 Questions for Staying Focused

As a startup founder, you need to ask yourself three questions when looking to improve your offerings, and the answers should help you maintain a sharper focus on your core competency. Otherwise, you risk losing sight of your target audience and expanding too far too soon.

1. What is the most critical customer pain point we want to solve?

For the most part, your answer will fall into one of four fairly broad categories: cost, productivity, ease of use, and assistance. Cost obviously involves a financial problem, like overpaying for a product or service. Productivity centers on time — or the lack thereof. Ease of process involves making a complicated matter simpler, and assistance is all about support. 

Invest in the research to uncover where your customers’ biggest pain points lie. Then, understand how your product or service can best solve that problem only. The first step in staying focused is zeroing in on one pain point and knowing you will need to maximize your offering’s ability to solve it.

“If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” – Steve Jobs

2. Are we building a valuable solution to this pain point? 

Once you’ve established the problem your offering will address, you should determine whether what you have to offer is actually the best way for customers to solve it. Can your product or service take them easily from point A, where they have the problem, to point B, where it has been significantly remedied or entirely solved? If not, it’s time to pivot your strategy and improve your offering to better deliver that one solution, rather than just adding bells and whistles.

3. Are we using feedback to improve?

Nobody knows a pain point better than consumers. Once your product or service is in people’s hands, welcome their feedback with open arms. The more input you can gather, the better. 

You can use the feedback directly to build your development road map, allowing you to improve upon your product or service in the way customers most want to see. Hearing from customers themselves is the only way to know the true extent to which you are solving your customers’ problems. 

To bring the most value to your customers, focus in rather than expanding out. Startups form around solving problems in the first place, so the attention should remain on finding the very best solution. Focus on what you’re good at and master this area before moving into other uncharted waters. That’s the foundation of success.

Have you thought about starting a business? If so, what part of this article resonated most with you? Share your thoughts below!

Sonny Tai is CEO of Actuate, a Marine Corps veteran, and a social entrepreneur. He co-founded Actuate with the mission of addressing America’s gun violence epidemic, and he works to build software that employs deep learning to automatically identify weapons in real-time security feeds.

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Most Entrepreneurs Fail to Do This and It’s Killing Their Success

Celebrating progress also provides entrepreneurs with the psychological sustenance needed to endure the marathon of building a business



celebrate your milestones

The journey from a mere concept to a tangible reality is one of the most exhilarating yet challenging paths an entrepreneur can navigate. This odyssey is punctuated by milestones that stand as testaments to perseverance, innovation, and relentless hard work.  (more…)

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9 Ways Augmented Reality Gives Your Business a Competitive Edge

By embracing AR technology, companies can unlock new opportunities for growth, innovation, and success



augmented reality in business

Leveraging Augmented Reality for Business Advancement: Exploring Applications

In the ever-evolving landscape of business innovation, Augmented Reality in business emerges as a transformative force, reshaping traditional paradigms and unlocking new opportunities for growth and advancement.

Through a comprehensive examination of AR’s capabilities, applications, and business benefits, this article serves as a roadmap for enterprises seeking to harness the full potential of augmented reality to propel their success in the digital age.

UNI.Agency as a forefront developmental agency tailors unmatched digital products and immersive experiences. They help companies outperform their competitors and customers’ expectations. And now, there is time to delve deep into the AR realm.

Gaining Insight into Augmented Reality

From revolutionizing customer experiences to optimizing operational efficiency, AR in retail is poised to drive significant advancements in how businesses operate and engage with their stakeholders.

Augmented Reality (AR) seamlessly integrates digital information and virtual objects into the real-world environment, offering users an immersive and interactive experience through devices like smartphones or AR glasses.

It revolutionizes various industries, from entertainment to healthcare, by enhancing perception and creating innovative opportunities for engagement and exploration in the digital era. AR not only enriches our understanding of reality but also opens up new possibilities for creativity, communication, and problem-solving, making it a powerful tool for businesses seeking to enhance customer experiences and streamline operations in an increasingly digital world.

Differentiating Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) overlays digital elements onto the real world, enhancing the user’s perception of their environment. Virtual Reality (VR), however, immerses users in entirely virtual environments, blocking out the real world. There are some core differences between these two technologies in gear and display approaches:

  • AR enriches reality with digital information, while VR creates entirely immersive virtual experiences.
  • AR typically requires less specialized hardware, like smartphones or AR glasses, while VR often involves dedicated headsets.
  • AR is commonly used for enhancing real-world experiences, such as in gaming, retail, and navigation, encouraging augmented reality shopping. Whereas VR is primarily employed for immersive simulations, training, and entertainment in fully virtual environments.

The Influence of AR on the Customer Experience Journey

As of 2024, Augmented Reality (AR) has evolved into an indispensable tool across various sectors, offering immersive and interactive experiences that seamlessly blend digital elements with the real world.

Stimulating Interest

Augmented Reality (AR) captivates customers by offering visually engaging experiences that spark curiosity and intrigue, enticing them to explore products or services further.

AR’s ability to overlay digital content onto the real world creates an immersive and attention-grabbing experience, drawing customers in and igniting their interest.

Educating and Empowering Users

AR in business empowers users by providing interactive and informative experiences that educate them about products, services, or concepts in a visually compelling manner.

Through AR, customers can interact with virtual models, animations, or informational overlays, gaining a deeper understanding of the features, benefits, or use cases of the offerings.

Exploring Further Depths

AR encourages customers to delve deeper into products or services by offering immersive and interactive experiences that go beyond traditional marketing materials.

By allowing users to explore virtual representations of products in real-world contexts, AR in retail provides a unique opportunity for customers to visualize how offerings fit into their lives, fostering deeper engagement and understanding.

Business Benefits of Augmented Reality

Businesses utilize AR for diverse applications, including product visualization, virtual try-ons, and enhanced customer engagement. In education, AR transforms learning experiences by providing interactive simulations and visualizations.

Additionally, AR has become integral to industries such as healthcare, where it facilitates surgical training and patient education. With advancements in AR technology and widespread adoption, it continues to shape how we perceive and interact with our environment, ushering in a new era of innovation and connectivity.

Let’s look at why AR has become so indispensable as a business tool nowadays.

Revolutionizing Training Methods

AR in business transforms training by offering immersive, interactive simulations that replicate real-world scenarios, enhancing employee learning and skill development.

It’s lucrative for hands-on training experiences. Since there’s no need for physical equipment or environments, reducing costs and logistical constraints while improving knowledge retention and performance.

Boosting Productivity Levels

Augmented Reality in business boosts productivity by providing real-time access to information and guidance, allowing employees to complete tasks more efficiently and accurately.

Through AR-powered tools and applications, workers can streamline workflows, troubleshoot issues, and collaborate effectively, resulting in increased output and operational efficiency.

Implementing Dynamic Marketing Approaches

AR enables businesses to implement dynamic marketing strategies that captivate and engage audiences in unique ways.

By integrating AR into marketing campaigns, companies can create interactive experiences that drive brand awareness, customer engagement, and sales conversions, setting themselves apart in a crowded marketplace.

Fostering Product Development

Augmented reality and marketing foster innovation in product development by facilitating virtual prototyping, design iterations, and collaborative decision-making.

With AR, teams can visualize and test product concepts in 3D, gather feedback from stakeholders, and make informed design decisions faster, leading to faster time-to-market and more successful product launches.

Creating Tailored Customer Experiences

AR creates personalized customer experiences by allowing users to interact with products and services in customized ways.

Through AR-enhanced applications and experiences, businesses can tailor content, recommendations, and promotions to individual preferences and behaviors, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Amplifying Brand Recognition

Augmented Reality shopping amplifies brand recognition by providing memorable and shareable experiences that leave a lasting impression on customers.

By incorporating AR into branding initiatives, companies can create immersive brand experiences that spark conversations, increase social media engagement, and strengthen brand loyalty, ultimately driving business growth and success.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Augmented Reality in business stands as a transformative force, offering a multitude of benefits across various aspects of operations. From revolutionizing training methods to boosting productivity levels, AR empowers businesses to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment.

By embracing AR technology, companies can unlock new opportunities for growth, innovation, and success, while delivering immersive and engaging experiences that resonate with customers and stakeholders alike.

As AR continues to evolve and integrate into everyday business practices, Uni will incorporate the best practices to promote business advancement and drive meaningful change for the clients. We’re to shape the future of commerce to your benefit.

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How Entrepreneurs Are Harnessing LLCs to Launch Successful Startups

LLCs have unique advantages for starting up and growing a successful business



why you should set up an LLC

In my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve learned that LLCs have unique advantages for starting up and growing a successful business. But, before delving into the advantages, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of what an LLC is and how it operates. 

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a hybrid business entity that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship. This unique blend provides entrepreneurs with the best of both worlds: personal asset protection and simplified taxation.

One of the most significant advantages of an LLC is its limited liability feature. This means that as the owner, my personal assets are shielded from any liabilities or debts incurred by the business.

In the event of lawsuits or financial obligations, only the assets of the LLC are at risk, offering me peace of mind and protecting my personal wealth.

Advantages of Forming an LLC

Flexibility in Management and Structure

Another aspect of the LLC that appealed to me was its flexibility in management and structure. Unlike corporations, which have rigid hierarchies and formalities, LLCs allow for a more relaxed approach to governance. As the founder, I have the freedom to structure the company in a way that suits the needs and goals of my startup.

For instance, LLCs can choose to be managed by their members (owners) or appoint a manager to oversee operations. This flexibility enables me to maintain full control of the business or delegate management responsibilities to trusted individuals while retaining ownership.

Additionally, LLCs are not bound by strict meeting requirements or extensive record-keeping obligations, reducing administrative burdens and allowing me to focus on building and growing the business.

Pass-Through Taxation and Financial Efficiency

One of the most attractive features of an LLC, particularly for startups, is its pass-through taxation. Unlike corporations, which are subject to double taxation (taxation at both the corporate and individual levels), LLCs pass profits and losses directly to their members’ personal tax returns.

This tax efficiency not only simplifies the filing process but also allows for greater flexibility in managing cash flow and reinvesting profits back into the business. As an entrepreneur, minimizing tax liabilities and maximizing financial efficiency are critical components of long-term success, and the pass-through taxation feature of an LLC aligns perfectly with these objectives.

Enhanced Credibility and Professionalism

Establishing an LLC can also enhance the credibility and professionalism of a startup. Unlike sole proprietorships or general partnerships, which may be perceived as informal or less legitimate, an LLC provides a formal business structure that instills confidence in customers, investors, and partners.

By operating under the umbrella of an LLC, I can present my startup as a reputable and established entity, which can open doors to opportunities such as securing financing, attracting top talent, and forging strategic partnerships.

This enhanced credibility can be a significant advantage, particularly in competitive industries or when seeking to differentiate my startup in the market.

Protection of Intellectual Property and Brand Assets

For startups built around innovative ideas or unique intellectual property, protecting these assets is paramount. An LLC offers an additional layer of protection for intellectual property and brand assets, safeguarding them from infringement or unauthorized use.

By registering trademarks, copyrights, or patents under the name of the LLC, I can establish legal ownership and enforce my rights more effectively in the event of disputes or infringement claims. This protection not only preserves the value of my intellectual property but also enhances the overall stability and longevity of the startup.

Steps to Form an LLC

Let us now look at the general steps to form an LLC for your business:

Step 1: Choose a Name for Your LLC

Selecting a unique and distinguishable name is the first step in forming an LLC. Ensure that the name you choose complies with the rules set by your state’s LLC division. Typically, the name must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or an abbreviation of these terms.

Additionally, the name should not infringe on the trademarks of existing businesses.

Step 2: Designate a Registered Agent

A registered agent is an individual or entity appointed to receive legal documents, such as lawsuits or subpoenas, on behalf of the LLC. The registered agent must have a physical address within the state where the LLC is formed.

For instance, if you are forming an LLC in Texas, ensure that your registered agent has a physical address in Texas.

This role is crucial for ensuring that the LLC remains compliant with legal requirements and maintains good standing.

Step 3: File Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization, also known as a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization in some states, is a document that formally establishes the LLC. You’ll need to submit this document to the appropriate state agency, usually the Secretary of State or Division of Corporations.

The articles typically include basic information such as the LLC’s name, address, registered agent details, and the purpose of the business.

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

While not always a legal requirement, drafting an operating agreement is highly recommended for LLCs. This document outlines the ownership structure, management roles, voting rights, profit-sharing arrangements, and other important aspects of the LLC’s operations.

Even if you’re the sole owner of the LLC, having an operating agreement in place can help clarify expectations and prevent disputes in the future.

Step 5: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your LLC for tax purposes.

Even if your LLC doesn’t have employees, obtaining an EIN is necessary for opening a business bank account, filing taxes, and conducting other financial transactions.

Step 6: Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business and its location, you may need to obtain various permits, licenses, or certifications to operate legally. These requirements can vary widely from one industry and jurisdiction to another. Common examples include business licenses, zoning permits, health permits, and professional licenses.

In my entrepreneurial journey, the decision to establish my startups as LLCs has been instrumental in mitigating risks, optimizing financial performance, and positioning my ventures for long-term success.

By harnessing the advantages of the LLC structure, I’ve been able to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship with confidence and resilience, laying the groundwork for a bright and prosperous future.

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Build a Strong IT Team with These Smart Hiring Tips

Without dedicated IT staff, your company may not be able to function as efficiently or effectively



Hiring tips for tech industry

The role of IT staff in your company is not only essential but also ever-evolving. As your business grows, so does the need for qualified IT staff and more robust recruiting solutions.

After all, from maintaining and troubleshooting the computer systems that keep your business running smoothly, IT staff also help employees stay connected and productive by providing technical support at all times. (more…)

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