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5 Ways Digital Disruption is Creating Massive Opportunities for Startups

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startup and digital disruption

Recently I caught up with Roger Seow, who is the Head of Social Media & Digital Integration at a large financial institution, and has a career that spans many years and companies. He has made a name for himself as a thought leader, who changes the status quo through the use of digital disruption principles.

During our chat, we covered a lot of ground around where the opportunities lie and some strategies that startups can use.

This article is based on Roger’s advice from many years of experience and insight, and it will also clarify some really useful points around digital.

What is digital disruption in simple terms?

It’s the use of digital technologies such as social, mobile, analytics, and cloud computing to challenge the traditional status quo of doing things. This could be improvements or solving problems on an idea that hasn’t been thought about. For something to really be disruptive it needs to be able to scale or grow quickly. Digital Disruption is everywhere, not just with startups, and they are not immune to being disrupted themselves. It’s important to be aware that the landscape has changed.

The components, that make a successful startup, are that you’re agile, nimble, willing to experiment, have the ability to execute on trends and able to make mistakes. Digital disruption is something that just happens and it’s a means to an end. Startups by their very nature are already disruptive because you can do things quicker and cheaper than most businesses. Before discussing digital disruption, Roger always stresses that it’s important to understand the four key ingredients that make a successful startup.

 

– What problem are you trying to solve?

Most entrepreneurs look at their startup from an opportunity lens because they are serial optimists by nature. There is nothing wrong with that but you need to make sure you’re finding a problem that actually exists.  Will someone pay to have this problem solved? Is the problem large enough and is it something people care about? If your startup is able to address this then you’re well on the road to success.

 

– Find the right people to solve the problem

No one has a monopoly on all the skills that are required to make a successful startup.

When we talk about digital disruption it’s not just about coming up with a great idea. You need to be able to think what the future is going to look like with your solution, when it’s of scale. With this in mind, you need to think about what people you need along the journey that can perform such functions as marketing, legal, risk management, business strategy and product development. Ideally these people would have good business acumen, understand commerciality of your idea and know how to manage the startups reputation. Obviously you don’t need all of these people on day one, but you will need them on the journey.

 

– Have the correct structures in place

Structure has its purpose and sometimes it’s looked upon by startups in a negative way because it can potentially slow things down.

The temptation for a startup is to take shortcuts in getting something to market, but if you really want to be sustainable and successful, you need to be thinking of scale. In order to scale you need to have strong structures in place from day one.

“Try to build for scale not to scale.”

 

– Lastly, funding to execute

When you have thought about the first three ingredients, then you can think about how to approach the various ranges of funding in the market. Any person or firm, who is wanting to invest in your startup, will be wanting to see that you have a problem worth solving, the people to solve it and structures that will demonstrate financial discipline. When all of these are aligned then it’s a good time to look at investment. Successful capital raises are often done because of an understanding of these principles.

Now that you understand these four ingredients and what digital disruption is, let talk more about the opportunities that exist for you and your startup, thanks to our good friend digital disruption.

 

1. Large organisations can’t innovate as fast as your startup can

By virtue of their brand and time in business, one model your startup could consider would be to actively position yourself as very innovative for large, traditional, organisations. If you look at the recent trend in acquisitions, large organisations are seeing startups as attractive and buying them because they simply can’t innovate fast enough. One of the ways your startup could take advantage of this and prove your startups worth is to build some relationships with large organisations and then ask them to put forward a self-contained problem. Once you have their problem you could use your startup mentality and skills, to solve their problem and prove you can be a valuable partner to them.

Then what the large organisation brings to the table for your startup. is that they can help you grow to scale by exposing a number of their customers to you as a test. This partnership could be a win-win model because, in the eyes of the large organisations customers, they are seen to be innovative, without having to build everything themselves. From the startups point of you, you get to test and refine your product to a real customer base. This sets you up for success when you go to get funding and allows you to show them you have a track record and have incorporated the feedback from these customers, into your product.

You might be thinking to yourself, “I don’t know any large organisations”. Some ways, to find them, are to go to meetups, hackathon’s put on by large organisations and government-sponsored activities.

“Google staff gets 20% of their time to explore new ideas.”

It’s also important to understand that a lot of large organisations will be happy to talk to you because most of them know that no one has a monopoly of good ideas. Chose the right time to approach the “Gandalf’s” (Think, Lord of the Rings) of the large organisations, who can navigate you through the key decision makers and assist you to validate your idea further. Look to your mentors or angel investors to advise you when the right time, to engage large organisations is, because it’s different for every startup.

The other factors, to consider, is when to share your idea and how much of it to share, because your competitors might be listening. On the flip side, the question to ask yourself is, have you shared enough of your idea to gather excitement from the guide within the large organisation?

 

2. The Social Media wave has already hit

“80 – 90% of people today have a disbelief of what organisations say about themselves.”

There are a lot of costs involved in marketing, to tell your potential customers about your products, services and differentiation in the market. If you consider that a large part of people might be discounting that message, then you need to look at other ways to get your message through.

“Increasingly people are turning to Social Media and online ratings, to inform them prior to making a purchase decision.”

Like-minded people, on sites like Tripadvisor, are getting together and sharing their stories, talking about solutions and sharing their experience. Previously people would primarily trust big brands, but this new phenomenon of people buying from people is something that startups can take advantage of. One way you could take advantage of this, with your own startup, is to create these destination points on free social media platforms, and then invite the crowd into your product development cycle and marketing ideas. In the old days, when you wanted to test your idea, you had to run small focus groups in a room, whereas now you can run Google Hangouts with a crowd, and do a similar thing, but at a much larger scale.

As far as completing the transactional side of selling on social media, it’s best not to do this part on the platform because you run the risk of creating a conflict of interest, and having prospects think that you only engage them so you can get something from them.

Trying to complete a transaction on social media loses the purity of the benefits that you get such as things like unsolicited advocacy, community, peer to peer sharing and collaboration, which is what typically comes out of the medium.

The mindset, that you need to have when selling online, is that selling is a cycle. It starts with awareness of your startup, development of the idea, refinement, education, packaging etc, and then finally, the exchange of value – social media has a big part to play. Use social media for all the parts of the sales cycle, but not necessarily the final transactional element where credit card numbers are exchanged, as this could taint the whole social media message you are trying to put out there. The final exchange of value is best done on your website with a shopping cart.

 

3. Mobile first and the cloud (not the ones up in the sky)

When Roger attended Dreamforce  (an annual Salesforce event) in 2013, Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, said that they want to be a mobile first company and she remembers when she first got the job, there were only 40 mobile engineers, they now have more than 4000.

The rise of smartphones worldwide and the demand for content to be consumed on them has created even more opportunities for startups, especially considering that many websites are still not mobile friendly.


Dreamforce Event by Salesforce
 

Part of the further rise is in smartphone use, has been driven by Android becoming a serious player and other brands of smartphones starting to come on the market. This will only continue to grow as the market share starts to split further between the likes of Apple, Android, HTC, Sony etc. As the entrepreneur / founder it’s your job to set the vision for the startup, and it’s important to ride the wave that is already here. If you’re at the stage where you want to pivot your business, a mobile first strategy is something to consider. More people in a household have smartphones than they do televisions or newspapers, and they can engage and interact whenever they want. As a startup, you want to create a really great mobile experience so that your users can consume and contribute with you, whenever they want, however they want.

If you’re at the stage where you want to pivot your business, a mobile first strategy is something to consider. More people in a household have smartphones than they do televisions or newspapers, and they can engage and interact whenever they want. As a startup, you want to create a really great mobile experience so that your users can consume and contribute with you, whenever they want, however they want.

One other result, that has come from digital disruption, is the cloud. I remember a few years ago when maintaining server was a real pain. You had to have a special room, adequate security, loads of expensive hardware (that always needed changing) and air con to keep the room cool. Now the cloud allows us to move infrastructure, which startups and businesses use to manage themselves, to experts, which will help them drive scale further as they grow. The cloud moves capability to where the expertise exists, as long as you get the security and privacy right, with the option you go for.

The opportunity here is that large organisations still can’t use this tool to its full capability yet, whereas you can. There is really no reason for a startup trying to stay lean, not to take advantage of this digital disruptor.

 

4. Payments and the opportunity

Digital disruption is also creating opportunities in the payments space, if you’re a startup that is interested in facilitating payments. The two forces, that consumers are driving, are simplicity and frictionless commerce. On the other hand, the same consumer also wants security and safety. Pay Pal has won the game so far because they have made it frictionless, by allowing users to login with their mobile number and a 4-digit pin, which you would be unlikely to forget.

On the other hand, they also cover the security aspect by covering fraud for 30 days. At the micro level, if you’re a startup wanting to succeed as a payments provider, you need to get these two things right. At a macro level, the other part to understand is that the exchange of value between the user and a startup is only a slither of the entire value chain. Roger believes that there is still opportunity as no one has cracked payments end to end yet. The challenge of course, is that there are only small amounts of margin in it, yet there are so many players in every transaction that want a slice.

Even if you do not want to be a payment provider, it’s still worth having some form of digital wallet on your site, to allow frictionless payments. Where applicable, your startup should also consider taking advantage of the new Apply Pay technology, that allows you to do real world, contactless transactions, with your smartphone. If you do all the other bits previously mentioned, and do them well, then the transactional side takes care of itself.

 

5. Content is king in the long term

The way that you market your startup can be still achieved by traditional advertising or SEO / pay per click, but it depends on what you are trying to achieve. Digital disruption has really made content an important part of any marketing strategy and you can take advantage of it. In order to do this successfully you need to get your messaging right and clearly communicate within your content,  what problem you are solving, and why your startup is in the best position to solve it. If your not good with content it’s definitely worth investing into some good copywriting.

The content should also have the intent to build advocacy, remembering that people buy from people. Rogers opinion is that a lot of content out there just reads like a marketing brochure. Make it easily digestible and shareable so that your audience can see, feel, and understand what you do. For example, if you are trying to solve a financial problem don’t dilute your message by creating content that talks about cars or coffee. This strategy is a good way to start a niche and grow from there.

The content should also have the intent to build advocacy, remembering that people buy from people. Rogers opinion is that a lot of content out there just reads like a marketing brochure. Make it easily digestible and shareable so that your audience can see, feel, and understand what you do. For example, if you are trying to solve a financial problem don’t dilute your message by creating content that talks about cars or coffee. This strategy is a good way to start a niche and grow from there.

If you look at Amazon as an example, they didn’t start by being the world’s biggest retailer from day one, they started selling CDs and books, then they invited users to review their products, long before they expanded into everything else. Your marketing mix is really important. Depending on what your strategy is, this will determine where you should share your content. Are you trying to create awareness, increase traffic or create shares and likes? Tailor your content to the channel you’re sharing the content on. Content will really help you create interest. One issue though is most marketers create interest around a specific point in time, but it’s really preferable to keep that interest going, which is very rare. The life of a tweet is 12-15 seconds. How do you keep the interest going? Ensure you have consistently new material to keep the conversation alive.

Tailor your content to the channel you’re sharing the content on. Content will really help you create interest. One issue though is most marketers create interest around a specific point in time, but it’s really preferable to keep that interest going, which is very rare. The life of a tweet is 12-15 seconds. How do you keep the interest going? Ensure you have consistently new material to keep the conversation alive.

 

If you want to continue reading up on the subject then Roger recommends reading Code Halos that talks about social, mobile, analytics and the cloud and how they are challenging businesses.

The book is available on the Amazon link below:

www.amazon.com/Code-Halos-Organizations-Changing-Business/dp/1118862074

 

If you’re interested in knowing more about Roger Seow then you can connect with him via LinkedIn au.linkedin.com/in/rogerseow

Roger Seow A2S

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net or through his Facebook.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Terry Woolford

    May 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Great article Roger, a interesting and thought provoking read. By the very nature and speed of digital innovation it is always disruptive. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t just be thinking about wholly new applications but to how “digitize” traditional products and services. Think about Uber and now others – they digitized the taxi cab industry and revolutionized it. Essentially the same product delivered in a innovative way – convenient, and simple.

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Startups

3 Reasons Why It’s a Good Thing Your First Startup Failed

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startup failure

Statistics on business failure are a matter of heated debate. Back in 2014, a study in The Washington Post rubbished the oft-repeated claim that “nine out of ten businesses fail,” saying that it had “no statistical basis.” Even so, a more accurate figure from The Small Business Administration still points to only around half of businesses lasting beyond five years.

As such, there’s still a 50/50 chance that your first startup will fail. If this has happened to you, it’s unlikely to have been a pleasant experience. But does that mean that every bit of the time, money and effort was wasted? Absolutely not. In fact, the value of failing has been discussed on this site before.

As Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” One thing you can be sure of is that in the wake of a failed start-up, you’ll have a heap of lessons to learn from. Every one of them represents an opportunity to do things better or differently next time and increase the chance of your next business being the one that truly goes the distance.

Here are three big reasons why the failure of your first start-up could prove to have been a blessing:

1. You know which tasks not to expend time and money on

It’s pretty much impossible to get a business off the ground without making some mistakes, especially when it comes to putting time and effort into ideas and activities that don’t move the company forward.

However, it’s easy to forget and write off, for example, a futile Google Ads campaign or a pointless dalliance with Instagram if the business goes on to be a success. However, if the company fails, then these drains on time and money suddenly come into far sharper focus.

This being the case, the chances are you’ll have quite a sizeable “never again” list, even if it’s only stored in your memory. Everything on that list is an opportunity not to make the same mistake again whether it’s a web developer you’ll not be using again or acquired knowledge on which advertising strategies do and don’t work. You have a body of knowledge that’s going to ensure your next venture is leaner, meaner and more focussed.

“You have to work on the business first before it works for you.” –  Idowu Koyenikan

2. You know what did go right

Of course (hopefully) you got some stuff right too? This knowledge is equally valuable. One way of looking at it is that your next start-up business can operate like a carefully edited and curated version of the first one.

All the ideas, working practices and promotional avenues that delivered results the first time around are things you can potentially recreate (albeit obviously only where the business similarities are relevant!) What’s more, because you’ve done these things before, they should take you less time the second time around.

There may even be documents, contracts, databases and various other things you can repurpose for your next company. This can result in big savings in both time and money. Just because the business failed doesn’t mean there aren’t considerable resources you still have to show for your initial efforts.

The same applies to the contacts you made and the suppliers and companies you used. That network is still there, and once again it’s now a “curated” network – you know exactly who to work with again, and who to swerve.

3. You’ve learned a valuable lesson in resilience

Gever Tulley is an American writer, TED talk host, and founder of San Francisco’s Brightworks school. He says that “Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”

This is very relevant in start-up businesses. Entrepreneurs who find huge success with their first business actually miss out on a valuable and crucial part of the learning curve, and this can come back to haunt them when there’s an unexpected bump in the road further down the line.

Yes, watching a much-loved business fail can be upsetting and demotivating, but coming out the other side still willing to have another go is undoubtedly a bold and determined move to make. It’s almost inevitable that the process will change you, and will certainly change the way you do things.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

But it’s no bad thing to be more sceptical as to the claims companies make when they sell you something, tougher when it comes to price negotiation, or more cynical about the benefits of jumping onto the latest online bandwagon.

The last quote which I shall use to tie this up is from an unknown source, and it says that “the only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” If you can stick to that rule and use the failure of a business venture to bounce back with humility and determination, it should set you up well for your next attempt.

All the work that went into that “failed” business still has a huge amount of value. So move forward, concentrate on one thing at a time, and you should stand a good chance of success the second time around.  

What failed venture are you grateful for in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 Powerful Ways to Stay Motivated While Building Your Startup

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building a startup

I hear one particular story being repeated over and over again in the startup world. See if you’ve heard it before. A friend tells me how excited he is about a new business idea. He’s talked to several potential customers who seem really interested, and he’s even contracted folks in the industry to help him build a prototype.

Two months later, I meet with him again. He’s still very excited, working hard at all hours of the day, and he says that they’re actually about to release the prototype. Another 2 or 3 months go by and I check in to ask him how everything is going.

Glumly, he tells me, “Well, we released the prototype to a couple of early adopters, but we didn’t find they were using it on a daily basis.” Or, “We spent like $50 on Facebook ads to spread the word, but nobody signed up.” And on and on it goes.

Just like that, another wantrepreneur’s dreams are crushed. “Maybe this entrepreneurship thing just isn’t for me,” he says. Sound familiar? It happens to all of us. We have that initial burst of excitement and we get super motivated to pursue our business idea, but then when reality hits and things don’t go as planned, we lose that spark and our motivation hits rock bottom.

People don’t realize that building a startup is like a roller coaster – one day you’re on top of the world and the next you’re having the worst day ever. Motivation is like the fuel in your car, when you run out, your company stalls and comes to a complete stop.

People always ask me how I maintain my motivation throughout the ups and downs of startup life. Like any other positive habit, you have to train yourself and you need a few techniques in your back pocket to help you get out of that rut when you (inevitably) fall into it.

Here are a few things that have helped me stay motivated while building my business:

1. Listen to or Read Something Motivational Each Day

This is actually one of my main sources of motivation. Every day, I listen to an entrepreneurship podcast and learn something new.

When you hear an interview with a successful founder, and he says he wakes up every day at 4AM to spend 2 hours writing a chapter of his book before heading into work, it makes you think “Wow! I thought I was working hard!”

I’ll listen to an owner talk about how he lost everything and managed to bring himself back from ruins. That kind of story can motivate anybody to push through the rough times in their own life and business endeavors.

When I hear these types of inspirational interviews during my morning walk, I go home eager to start work for the day!

“Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.”  – Ryan Freitas

2. Have a Learning Mindset

No matter how excited you are about your startup idea, remember that it’s a learning experience. A year from now, you may end up developing something totally different based on feedback you get from customers. If your first prototype doesn’t get the traction or results you were hoping for, then learn why that is.

Did it not solve the customer’s pain point? Were you solving the wrong problem? Call up the users and ask them why are they’re not using or buying your product! Brice McBeth in his book ‘Salon Chairs Don’t Sell Themselves’, shares his experience with the launch of an e-commerce website that he was trying to promote.

He found that potential customers were just not signing up, even though his team built a visually stunning website. It wasn’t until after he called several customers that he learned they felt the website looked too fancy for them.

They weren’t signing up because they thought the product was too expensive even though they hadn’t even looked at the pricing page. They based their assumption purely on the landing page. He changed the website and the product took off. So don’t get discouraged if your first launch fails. Go out and ask for feedback and correct your mistakes!

3. Sign Up Real Customers

The biggest motivating factor for me so far has been signing up our startup’s first real customers. Not a friend and not someone I met at a networking event who was doing me a favor. A complete stranger who found us on the web and wanted to sign up because she was interested in the product.

When I talked to this customer on the phone, she had no idea we were a startup in the beta stage. She was an office manager of a landscape and lawn service company who was looking for a time tracking software. Having a “real” customer using our application and depending on us to process payroll was a huge responsibility, but it was also motivation for us because we didn’t want to let a customer down.

I’ve found the wantrepreneurs of the world are a little intimidated by the important step of accumulating real customers. When beta customers sign up, they expect to have some issues with the product or software, but when a real, expectant, interested customer signs up and hands over their hard-earned money, it’s a whole different ball game.

But don’t be intimidated! The key is providing excellent customer service. Then your customers will stay with you even if your product is basic and buggy, because they know you will fix it and take care of them down the road. Trust me, waking up every morning knowing people are depending on you is the biggest motivation of all!

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

Maintaining motivation while you’re working on your startup, especially at the beginning, is like anything else important in your life – you have to work at it! Listen to or read something inspirational every day, maintain the mindset that everything is a learning experience, and take that plunge to find real customers.

Then, use your system to be accountable for your work and provide great service, and you’ll discover the motivation to move forward even in the toughest of times.

How do you stay motivated while building your startup or running your business? Comment below!

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3 Highly Successful Startups and the Lessons You Can Learn From Them

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To get success in life, it doesn’t always about having a university degree with top class. These days, successful businesses and entrepreneurs come from different walks of life.

When you will consider some of the successful startups of the world and entrepreneurs, who lead them, you can notice that they can also represent varied products, brands, generations, industries, and cultures.

Keeping aside diversity and backgrounds, successful entrepreneurs, businessmen and leaders have at least one thing in common, and that is the wide learning curves that they have had to undergo along the way on the road to their success.

However, the way to startup success is not always a predictable one because only 30% of seeded startups are securing some additional funding. In order to know why some of the startups thrive or some stagnate or fail, it is important to examine successful startups and different lessons to learn from them.

Here are 3 Successful Startups & Lessons That Can be Learnt From Them

1. Airbnb – Build a Product or Service That Customers Fall in love With

One of the leading American startups, Airbnb offers an online marketplace and hospitality service for people worldwide to lease or rent short-term lodging, including hostel beds, holiday cottages and apartments through its application. When the company was struggling in its initial stage in 2008, Paul Graham, a founder of the well-known incubator startup, Y Combinator, gave  advice to the CEO of Airbnb.

The CEO of Y Combinator asked Brian Chesky to focus on building a product that people fall-in-love with. Instead of building a product that people like, you should give attention to building a product that people truly love.

If most people are loving your product rather than liking it, they will recommend it to their friends and relatives. The word of mouth marketing for your product or service will play a more important role than any other marketing ways. With word of mouth marketing, it is enough to propel most businesses to new heights.

Lesson to learn: It would be a great choice to develop a product or service that people love instead of liking it. Your potential customers will indirectly help to get many new customers and expand your business.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

2. Uber – Always Think of Solving a Problem  

To achieve vivid success like Uber, it is a must that you think for one such service or product that gives a solution to your customers’ problem. Let’s consider Uber, a leading on-demand taxi booking app service provider, delivering on-demand taxi services to people worldwide, ensuring that they do not have to wait too long for a taxi.

Likewise, Uber has solved a problem of people that they were facing while hiring a taxi. Even it could start with just one problem and probably, your startup could deliver a holistic solution. So, whenever you get an idea, ensure that you start analyzing the idea and think about how it can solve a problem of people.

Lesson to Learn: Always think of your customers’ problems and try to solve it through your services or products. Give them a reliable solution that makes their daily life easier.

3. Atlassian – Have a Mission-driven Company Culture

Atlassian Corporation is an enterprise software company that is well-known for making business software, helping different teams of all sizes work faster and better together. A highly popular creator or products like Jiri and Confluence among others.

The company announced that they had spent $425 million to purchase another business-software company called Trello in early 2017. It is one of the biggest lessons that startups can learn from Atlassian as they have a mission-driven company culture.

Lesson to Learn: Do you know that the right culture can lead your company to success? You can realize the significant performance improvements. Build a culture, where people just love to work, expanding your business from one level to next.

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh

These are three highly successful startups and different lessons that can be learnt from them. These above-mentioned startups have a different success story, however, an organization that mainly focuses on customer-centric and mission-driven culture along with delivering a world-class product, tend to be successful.

Moreover, the companies that found solutions to customers’ problems and improve their daily lives, can lead to success. So, follow the hard-earned lessons that I mentioned above and it may help you to join the ranks of the unicorns.

What are some of your favorite & successful startups? Comment below!

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The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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Early Success: 7 Entrepreneurs Who Got Rich During or After College

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Not all entrepreneurs wait until they have years of experience to start out on their own. Many have the confidence in their abilities and ideas to get an early start. The seven entrepreneurs below did just that. They either dropped out of school and found success quickly, or did so shortly after graduation. (more…)

Jessica Fender, pro writer and blogger at Online Writers Rating, a platform for the customers who want to find the best writing companies on the web.

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  1. Terry Woolford

    May 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Great article Roger, a interesting and thought provoking read. By the very nature and speed of digital innovation it is always disruptive. Entrepreneurs shouldn’t just be thinking about wholly new applications but to how “digitize” traditional products and services. Think about Uber and now others – they digitized the taxi cab industry and revolutionized it. Essentially the same product delivered in a innovative way – convenient, and simple.

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3 Reasons Why It’s a Good Thing Your First Startup Failed

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Statistics on business failure are a matter of heated debate. Back in 2014, a study in The Washington Post rubbished the oft-repeated claim that “nine out of ten businesses fail,” saying that it had “no statistical basis.” Even so, a more accurate figure from The Small Business Administration still points to only around half of businesses lasting beyond five years.

As such, there’s still a 50/50 chance that your first startup will fail. If this has happened to you, it’s unlikely to have been a pleasant experience. But does that mean that every bit of the time, money and effort was wasted? Absolutely not. In fact, the value of failing has been discussed on this site before.

As Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” One thing you can be sure of is that in the wake of a failed start-up, you’ll have a heap of lessons to learn from. Every one of them represents an opportunity to do things better or differently next time and increase the chance of your next business being the one that truly goes the distance.

Here are three big reasons why the failure of your first start-up could prove to have been a blessing:

1. You know which tasks not to expend time and money on

It’s pretty much impossible to get a business off the ground without making some mistakes, especially when it comes to putting time and effort into ideas and activities that don’t move the company forward.

However, it’s easy to forget and write off, for example, a futile Google Ads campaign or a pointless dalliance with Instagram if the business goes on to be a success. However, if the company fails, then these drains on time and money suddenly come into far sharper focus.

This being the case, the chances are you’ll have quite a sizeable “never again” list, even if it’s only stored in your memory. Everything on that list is an opportunity not to make the same mistake again whether it’s a web developer you’ll not be using again or acquired knowledge on which advertising strategies do and don’t work. You have a body of knowledge that’s going to ensure your next venture is leaner, meaner and more focussed.

“You have to work on the business first before it works for you.” –  Idowu Koyenikan

2. You know what did go right

Of course (hopefully) you got some stuff right too? This knowledge is equally valuable. One way of looking at it is that your next start-up business can operate like a carefully edited and curated version of the first one.

All the ideas, working practices and promotional avenues that delivered results the first time around are things you can potentially recreate (albeit obviously only where the business similarities are relevant!) What’s more, because you’ve done these things before, they should take you less time the second time around.

There may even be documents, contracts, databases and various other things you can repurpose for your next company. This can result in big savings in both time and money. Just because the business failed doesn’t mean there aren’t considerable resources you still have to show for your initial efforts.

The same applies to the contacts you made and the suppliers and companies you used. That network is still there, and once again it’s now a “curated” network – you know exactly who to work with again, and who to swerve.

3. You’ve learned a valuable lesson in resilience

Gever Tulley is an American writer, TED talk host, and founder of San Francisco’s Brightworks school. He says that “Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.”

This is very relevant in start-up businesses. Entrepreneurs who find huge success with their first business actually miss out on a valuable and crucial part of the learning curve, and this can come back to haunt them when there’s an unexpected bump in the road further down the line.

Yes, watching a much-loved business fail can be upsetting and demotivating, but coming out the other side still willing to have another go is undoubtedly a bold and determined move to make. It’s almost inevitable that the process will change you, and will certainly change the way you do things.

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

But it’s no bad thing to be more sceptical as to the claims companies make when they sell you something, tougher when it comes to price negotiation, or more cynical about the benefits of jumping onto the latest online bandwagon.

The last quote which I shall use to tie this up is from an unknown source, and it says that “the only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” If you can stick to that rule and use the failure of a business venture to bounce back with humility and determination, it should set you up well for your next attempt.

All the work that went into that “failed” business still has a huge amount of value. So move forward, concentrate on one thing at a time, and you should stand a good chance of success the second time around.  

What failed venture are you grateful for in your life? Let us know in the comments below!

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3 Powerful Ways to Stay Motivated While Building Your Startup

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I hear one particular story being repeated over and over again in the startup world. See if you’ve heard it before. A friend tells me how excited he is about a new business idea. He’s talked to several potential customers who seem really interested, and he’s even contracted folks in the industry to help him build a prototype.

Two months later, I meet with him again. He’s still very excited, working hard at all hours of the day, and he says that they’re actually about to release the prototype. Another 2 or 3 months go by and I check in to ask him how everything is going.

Glumly, he tells me, “Well, we released the prototype to a couple of early adopters, but we didn’t find they were using it on a daily basis.” Or, “We spent like $50 on Facebook ads to spread the word, but nobody signed up.” And on and on it goes.

Just like that, another wantrepreneur’s dreams are crushed. “Maybe this entrepreneurship thing just isn’t for me,” he says. Sound familiar? It happens to all of us. We have that initial burst of excitement and we get super motivated to pursue our business idea, but then when reality hits and things don’t go as planned, we lose that spark and our motivation hits rock bottom.

People don’t realize that building a startup is like a roller coaster – one day you’re on top of the world and the next you’re having the worst day ever. Motivation is like the fuel in your car, when you run out, your company stalls and comes to a complete stop.

People always ask me how I maintain my motivation throughout the ups and downs of startup life. Like any other positive habit, you have to train yourself and you need a few techniques in your back pocket to help you get out of that rut when you (inevitably) fall into it.

Here are a few things that have helped me stay motivated while building my business:

1. Listen to or Read Something Motivational Each Day

This is actually one of my main sources of motivation. Every day, I listen to an entrepreneurship podcast and learn something new.

When you hear an interview with a successful founder, and he says he wakes up every day at 4AM to spend 2 hours writing a chapter of his book before heading into work, it makes you think “Wow! I thought I was working hard!”

I’ll listen to an owner talk about how he lost everything and managed to bring himself back from ruins. That kind of story can motivate anybody to push through the rough times in their own life and business endeavors.

When I hear these types of inspirational interviews during my morning walk, I go home eager to start work for the day!

“Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.”  – Ryan Freitas

2. Have a Learning Mindset

No matter how excited you are about your startup idea, remember that it’s a learning experience. A year from now, you may end up developing something totally different based on feedback you get from customers. If your first prototype doesn’t get the traction or results you were hoping for, then learn why that is.

Did it not solve the customer’s pain point? Were you solving the wrong problem? Call up the users and ask them why are they’re not using or buying your product! Brice McBeth in his book ‘Salon Chairs Don’t Sell Themselves’, shares his experience with the launch of an e-commerce website that he was trying to promote.

He found that potential customers were just not signing up, even though his team built a visually stunning website. It wasn’t until after he called several customers that he learned they felt the website looked too fancy for them.

They weren’t signing up because they thought the product was too expensive even though they hadn’t even looked at the pricing page. They based their assumption purely on the landing page. He changed the website and the product took off. So don’t get discouraged if your first launch fails. Go out and ask for feedback and correct your mistakes!

3. Sign Up Real Customers

The biggest motivating factor for me so far has been signing up our startup’s first real customers. Not a friend and not someone I met at a networking event who was doing me a favor. A complete stranger who found us on the web and wanted to sign up because she was interested in the product.

When I talked to this customer on the phone, she had no idea we were a startup in the beta stage. She was an office manager of a landscape and lawn service company who was looking for a time tracking software. Having a “real” customer using our application and depending on us to process payroll was a huge responsibility, but it was also motivation for us because we didn’t want to let a customer down.

I’ve found the wantrepreneurs of the world are a little intimidated by the important step of accumulating real customers. When beta customers sign up, they expect to have some issues with the product or software, but when a real, expectant, interested customer signs up and hands over their hard-earned money, it’s a whole different ball game.

But don’t be intimidated! The key is providing excellent customer service. Then your customers will stay with you even if your product is basic and buggy, because they know you will fix it and take care of them down the road. Trust me, waking up every morning knowing people are depending on you is the biggest motivation of all!

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison

Maintaining motivation while you’re working on your startup, especially at the beginning, is like anything else important in your life – you have to work at it! Listen to or read something inspirational every day, maintain the mindset that everything is a learning experience, and take that plunge to find real customers.

Then, use your system to be accountable for your work and provide great service, and you’ll discover the motivation to move forward even in the toughest of times.

How do you stay motivated while building your startup or running your business? Comment below!

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3 Highly Successful Startups and the Lessons You Can Learn From Them

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To get success in life, it doesn’t always about having a university degree with top class. These days, successful businesses and entrepreneurs come from different walks of life.

When you will consider some of the successful startups of the world and entrepreneurs, who lead them, you can notice that they can also represent varied products, brands, generations, industries, and cultures.

Keeping aside diversity and backgrounds, successful entrepreneurs, businessmen and leaders have at least one thing in common, and that is the wide learning curves that they have had to undergo along the way on the road to their success.

However, the way to startup success is not always a predictable one because only 30% of seeded startups are securing some additional funding. In order to know why some of the startups thrive or some stagnate or fail, it is important to examine successful startups and different lessons to learn from them.

Here are 3 Successful Startups & Lessons That Can be Learnt From Them

1. Airbnb – Build a Product or Service That Customers Fall in love With

One of the leading American startups, Airbnb offers an online marketplace and hospitality service for people worldwide to lease or rent short-term lodging, including hostel beds, holiday cottages and apartments through its application. When the company was struggling in its initial stage in 2008, Paul Graham, a founder of the well-known incubator startup, Y Combinator, gave  advice to the CEO of Airbnb.

The CEO of Y Combinator asked Brian Chesky to focus on building a product that people fall-in-love with. Instead of building a product that people like, you should give attention to building a product that people truly love.

If most people are loving your product rather than liking it, they will recommend it to their friends and relatives. The word of mouth marketing for your product or service will play a more important role than any other marketing ways. With word of mouth marketing, it is enough to propel most businesses to new heights.

Lesson to learn: It would be a great choice to develop a product or service that people love instead of liking it. Your potential customers will indirectly help to get many new customers and expand your business.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

2. Uber – Always Think of Solving a Problem  

To achieve vivid success like Uber, it is a must that you think for one such service or product that gives a solution to your customers’ problem. Let’s consider Uber, a leading on-demand taxi booking app service provider, delivering on-demand taxi services to people worldwide, ensuring that they do not have to wait too long for a taxi.

Likewise, Uber has solved a problem of people that they were facing while hiring a taxi. Even it could start with just one problem and probably, your startup could deliver a holistic solution. So, whenever you get an idea, ensure that you start analyzing the idea and think about how it can solve a problem of people.

Lesson to Learn: Always think of your customers’ problems and try to solve it through your services or products. Give them a reliable solution that makes their daily life easier.

3. Atlassian – Have a Mission-driven Company Culture

Atlassian Corporation is an enterprise software company that is well-known for making business software, helping different teams of all sizes work faster and better together. A highly popular creator or products like Jiri and Confluence among others.

The company announced that they had spent $425 million to purchase another business-software company called Trello in early 2017. It is one of the biggest lessons that startups can learn from Atlassian as they have a mission-driven company culture.

Lesson to Learn: Do you know that the right culture can lead your company to success? You can realize the significant performance improvements. Build a culture, where people just love to work, expanding your business from one level to next.

“Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh

These are three highly successful startups and different lessons that can be learnt from them. These above-mentioned startups have a different success story, however, an organization that mainly focuses on customer-centric and mission-driven culture along with delivering a world-class product, tend to be successful.

Moreover, the companies that found solutions to customers’ problems and improve their daily lives, can lead to success. So, follow the hard-earned lessons that I mentioned above and it may help you to join the ranks of the unicorns.

What are some of your favorite & successful startups? Comment below!

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The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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