If you have been thinking for a while about doing a startup, the time is now.
Maybe you thought you couldn’t or you needed a lot of money, but in reality, you really don’t. It’s never been cheaper to start a business and test the idea before going and putting all your time into it.
I remember thinking back in the early 2000’s that maybe most things had been done on the internet in terms of retail, which could have been true, but turned out to be incorrect. Just because it’s been done doesn’t mean that it can’t be done again, better. Around the same time that I had this thought I remember being offered the opportunity to distribute coffee pods and thinking everyone would only ever buy freshly roasted beans.
Coffee pods are now one of the fastest selling consumables around so it’s not always easy to pick trends, nor should you just focus on trends. It needs to be a mix of good research and something you can see yourself being involved with.
Before you make your mind up that most things are done, I urge you to think about all the things you buy in your own life, is each transaction 10/10? If you’re like me it’s probably far from it. Therein lies the opportunity for you.
Below are five reasons why I believe you should start a Startup now!
1. The age of disruption is here
No longer will a lot of us put up with substandard industries. Taxis are a classic example where for years it has been difficult to book one, go where you want, seek accurate directions, have a friendly driver and ride in a clean car. The people have spoken and now we have Uber and other competitors coming into the market. We are going to see this keep happening to companies and industries that fail to innovate. Even large companies like Kodak don’t exist anymore because of a lack of innovation, yet a company like Go Pro can disrupt the market, and make billions, by designing a simple camera that can be used anywhere.
Look at Culture Kings as another example, you would think that America has done Hip Hop clothing to death, but Culture Kings showed that there was still plenty of room for new entrants to the market. I should point out that the business started at a local market on the weekend. Don’t underestimate popup stores and market stores as a great way to test your product.
So often, I see business owners try their idea out at one of these locations and give up too easily, but the trick is that once you build a small customer base and prove that your product has some demand, take the next step and build an online store. It’s the step that most of these small businesses never take seriously and it’s what made Culture Kings so successful.
2. Quality advice is needed like never before
People are crying out for quality advice all the time because there is now, so much variety with our economies becoming more global than ever. Whether it’s managing people’s finances or finding out how to be healthy, it’s still so hard to get unbiased advice. The businesses that can master this will be successful in this new age.
If you look online for health products it can be a minefield of finding out exactly what works and what doesn’t, and a lot of the time the claims can’t be proven. New businesses are popping up all the time and are now trying to become trusted advisors, rather than sales people because they know that quality advice and the truth will often determine whether a sale is won in this new era.
So many of us are tired of the used car salesman trying to sell whatever car he can, for the highest price, so he can make the biggest commission. The average person now is so much savvier. The answer to quality advice is to take advantage of the internet and help to inform your prospects with quality content, videos and other rich media. Not so long ago this was quite a challenge, but now it can be done quite easily, and at very little, to no cost. Whilst you could argue that this capability has been around for a while it’s only now, thanks to smart phones, that consumers are using technology even more, to get the right advice.
Even baby boomers are now using smartphones with Google Search.
How can your startup take advantage of this?
3. It’s never been an easier time to find your mastermind group
Technology has made it even easier for us to connect with people. Initially, sites like Facebook were only for the under 30’s but now most of our parents are on it too.
LinkedIn has also exploded and it’s very rare these days to find professionals that are not on the platform.
This means that once you have your vision laser focused; you can begin by attracting the mastermind group you will need to support you (no great business can be built alone). Finding people that can help your business case is crucial and the beauty of Social Media is that it will help you find people in niches rather than just business people in general.
When you have found a potential candidate, I don’t recommend that you only communicate via Social Media. I think Social Media is a great way to become top of mind and at least intro yourself, but try to do the rest with a face-to-face meeting or a video call via Skype / Facetime for overseas candidates. If you can, try and record this video call (with permission of course) so that you can go back and reference them later on.
Many startups make the mistake of trying to do everything online and often a lot more can be achieved in person, and the cost of an airfare is worth every cent for the right person – don’t let the fast moving tech age fool you of this.
4. Poor service still exists
How many times do all of us go to an eating-place and experience poor service or an ordinary meal? For me, it’s still happening now and then. There are so many hospitality businesses that open and close because they don’t understand what’s going to make them successful.
I remember going to a takeaway shop a few weeks ago and getting the bare minimum. I had to pour my own glass of water, get my own cutlery and ask for them to get me a serviette from behind the counter. It sounds like a few small things, but it shows that the customer experience has not been thought of and that they are not trying to impress me or make it easy for me to do business with them.
A business like Fonda Mexican has become so successful because they get the formula for success. You need to try and be different, provide outstanding service, simplify the menu and innovate. If you put yourself in the minds of your clients and you ask people for their feedback you really can’t go wrong, yet most businesses don’t do this, so they struggle to continually have to find new clients and waste money on expensive advertising / giveaways.
The other area to look at is the large retailers.
I recently bought an iPhone 6 from an Apple store and another one from a large retailer. The Apple store went above and beyond to make sure I knew what I was getting and was in love with the product. The sales person was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and never left my side to check stock or take the payment. Once I was done they then set the phone up for me on the spot. The total time for this transaction was about 10 minutes although I could have taken as long as I liked to make a decision.
Comparing this experience to the large retailer was completely different. The sales person at the store had no passion for the product, knew nothing about it, asked me for ID to make sure I wasn’t a criminal and wasn’t sure if they had stock. Once they confirmed they had stock they then needed to get manager approval, as there had been a high amount of staff theft of iPhone 6’s. The total transaction time was 45 minutes and there was hardly anyone in the store.
The reason I tell you this story is not to complain, but demonstrate to you the abundance of opportunity that lies before you if you decide to see it.
5. Most eCommerce sites are still so primitive
If you compare your retail experience to buying from an online store, there is still such a massive gap. Most eCommerce stores still have very limited product descriptions, unreliable stock levels and no quick way for their clients to be assisted.
If you want to see a site that has nailed product presentation, (it’s almost as good as holding it in the store) check out Bellroy.
The product range is small, descriptive and it tells you exactly what you want to know. Again they are one of the few, so there is still so much room for disruption. Kogan is another monster business that showed social proof when buying, is fundamental to making a sale of a product. A lot of websites still give you that empty feeling of “Am I the only one that’s ever brought this?”
Kogan shows you in real time, people buying their products, so that you have social proof that you are not alone.
Even something like reviews, which have been around for a while, is still massively under-utilized. So many products I see still don’t have online reviews on them or very few. You then go to Youtube and find that there might be one or two videos demonstrating the product and the quality is not great.
There are more and more private people doing reviews of products and getting paid in the form of affiliate marketing. Again, there is a lot of opportunities to add this ingredient into the mix and launch a really cool site.
The key is obviously to pick something that you’re passionate about otherwise when you hit your first roadblock; you will struggle to find the momentum to keep moving forward. The time for startups is now!