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!
GET OUT THERE, GET AMONGST IT AND GET EXCITED!
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Entrepreneurs frequently seek startup funding through a variety of channels. Yet, none seem as challenging as successfully pitching to experienced investors. After all, investors are pressed for time and eager for opportunities. These characteristics make it challenging to motivate them, especially if you’re bombarding them with a pitch full of jargon. (more…)
From Idea to Empire: 5 Power Moves for Your Startup to Thrive in Today’s Market
As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial
As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that understanding market dynamics and choosing the right business model are crucial.
A few months into the startup, I was quick to gauge why it is necessary to go beyond the nuances of operational efficiency and the art of sustaining a business amid growing competition.
Collaboration is key.
The HR and the recruiting teams work with departments to foster a culture of collaboration, but what’s indispensable to business performance is the sync between the marketing and sales teams. What we’d consider as entrepreneurs is the need to ensure seamless collaboration to predict and achieve business goals together. In turn, this will help secure long-term recurring revenue for the business.
Besides, entrepreneurs need to focus on revenue as they gear up to take their startup from $0 to $1 million. The journey is filled with critical decisions, from identifying your target customer base to choosing the right funding strategy.
So, what next?
Read on… because here are five practical, results-driven strategies that you as a founder can implement to make a mark in their industry.
#1. Embrace the Lean Methodology
What is lean methodology?
It is all about pivoting resources to create more value for customers with fewer resources.
This principle encourages you to be more agile and allow rapid iteration based on customer feedback rather than spending years perfecting a product before it hits the market.
Want to implement it?
Here’s what you can do.
Build “Measure-Learn” Loop: What I did was develop a minimum viable product (MVP), a simple version of the product. You can do the same since it allows you to start the learning process as quickly as possible. After launching MVP, measure how customers use it and learn from their behaviors and feedback.
Here’s what I can recommend here:
- Identify the core features that solve your customers’ primary needs and focus solely on those to develop your MVP.
- Know the feedback channels where early users can communicate their experiences, suggestions, and complaints.
- Analyze user behavior and feedback to make informed product development and iteration decisions.
#2. Focus on Customer Development
Let’s talk about taking our startup to the next level.
It’s not just about getting customers – it’s about really getting to know them. We need to dive into their world, understand their struggles, and see how our product or service can make a difference in their lives.
It’s like we’re detectives, piecing together the puzzle of our business hypothesis by actually chatting with our customers
What would you ideally do here?
Understand Customer Segments: I’d say, start dividing your target market into segments and develop a deep understanding of each segment’s demographics, behaviors, needs, and pain points. The idea is to get into their shoes and really feel what they feel.
Ensure your Product Clicks: When starting up, think of what you offer and consider whether it clicks with what our customers need. My thought was “Does my product solve their problems? Does it make their day better?” Put yourself through a tough grilling session to show customers the value proposition and ensure that the product’s promise matches what our customers are looking for.
I’d recommend the following actions here:
- Talk to them – through surveys, interviews, or even casual chats. The goal? To gather real, raw insights about what they need and expect.
- Use the collected data to create detailed profiles for each type of customer. This way, everyone on our team really understood we were serving. I think this should help your startup as well.
- Try out different versions of our product with a few customer groups. It’s all about feedback here – understanding if you’re hitting the mark or if we need to pivot.
#3. Foster a Data-Driven Culture
The digital world is highly data driven since it fuels key decisions in a startup.
I believe it’s essential for us to build a data-driven culture. This means, you’ll move from making decisions based on hunches or assumptions. Instead, the focus should be on data analytics and insights to guide our strategies and improve our outcomes.
What can you do?
Use Data Analytics Tools: You should be using these tools to gather, analyze, and interpret data related to customer behavior, market trends, and our business operations. Here, consider the adoption of pipeline forecasting that leverages AI to find patterns in marketing data.
In turn, you’ll get areas for improvement since it can analyze historical data and predict the outcome for you to plan your.
- Pinpoint key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your business objectives and ensure they are measurable and actionable.
- Next, you can consider training your team to understand and use data analytics tools. This might involve workshops or bringing in experts to build a data-savvy workforce.
- Once everything is in place, regularly review data reports and dashboards. This gives us a clear picture of a startup’s health and helps adjust your strategies and predict future trends.
#4. Strengthen Your Financial Acumen
A good grip on financial skills is important to steer your business towards growth and making sure it stays on track. For this, you’ll have to understand the money side of things, which helps you manage your cash flow. Think of figuring out smart investment moves and sizing up any risks that come your way.
Here’s a tip on how you can get savvy with your finances.
Maintain Rigorous Financial Discipline: I’m really focused on cultivating a strong company culture, one that truly resonates with our mission. So, I’d suggest fostering open communication and encouraging a sense of ownership and collaboration among everyone in the team.
- Get to know your financial statements inside out – I’m talking about the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement. These are like the vital signs for your business’s financial health
- Use financial forecasting that helps predict your future money moves. With this, you will have a heads-up on upcoming revenues, expenses, and how much cash you’ll need. Also, research on the available financial forecasting tools that can make predictions spot-on.
- Don’t go at it alone. Regularly touch base with financial advisors or mentors. With them by your side, you’ll have a fresh perspective on your financial strategies to ensure you’re on the right path to hit your business goals.
5. Prioritize Team Building and Leadership Development
It is crucial to focus on building a solid team and developing strong leaders. This means putting our resources into the people who are going to propel our company forward.
What you’ll aim for here?
Creating a culture where everyone collaborates and every team member has the chance to emerge as a leader.
What I would do:
Cultivate a Strong Company Culture: This culture should mirror our mission and foster open communication. It’s important that it encourages everyone to feel a sense of ownership and work together.
Invest in Leadership and Team Development: As founders, we’ll have to make way for opportunities for teams to enhance their skills, face new challenges, and grow in their careers.
Some concrete steps that you should consider taking:
- Begin with clearly communicating your startup’s vision, mission, and values so that every team member is on the same page.
- Conduct regular team-building activities and workshops to boost skills and strengthen a sense of unity and collaboration.
- How about starting a mentorship program within our organization? The more experienced team members could guide and support the growth of newer or less experienced folks.
- Alas… encourage feedback at all levels. We should keep striving to create an environment where open, honest communication is the norm and everyone feels safe to speak up.
I know it’s one thing to get your head around these ideas and quite another to actually make them a part of your everyday business life. But that’s where the real magic happens, right? It’s all in the doing.
As a startup founder, this means more than just being a big dreamer. How about rolling up your sleeves to be the planner who pays attention to the smallest details. Ultimately, these tips and more tactics around it will help carve a leader in you who listens and cares and the learner who’s always ready to adapt
So, as you’re either starting out or moving forward on this entrepreneurial adventure, keep these practical tips right there.
May these be your guiding lights, helping you steer through the wild and exciting world of building a startup that’s not just a dream, but a thriving reality.
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