Having a startup has never been easier. Even if you don’t have any business experience, you have tons of accelerators that can support your plan and mentor you. Next, you have a tool for literally anything. You don’t have to be an expert in design, marketing, or creating websites – you can do it all online. Finally, there are many sources you can ask for investment. If your idea is good, you don’t even have to worry about the money.
This could be all you would need to start up a company – if we lived in a perfect world. But, we don’t. So, at the same time, having a startup has never been harder. Yes, there are tons of accelerators and investors, but there are even more startups that want to succeed. You would be lucky even if you got to pitch in front of an investor.
Next, if you’re having an idea, chances are, a lot of other people have the exact same idea. In the sea of startups, it’s pretty hard to prove why is it that your startup is the best. Finally, all these online tools will give you basic results. If you want to make an original and quality product, you need to have a team of experts that know what they’re doing.
So yes, having a startup is pretty hard these days. Even the smallest details make a difference. Having a good idea isn’t enough anymore, because anyone can have tons of ideas. It’s the work after that matters.
What should a startup do to highlight itself? Here is how to make a difference:
Make sure you’ve created a strong business plan
A business plan is the core of your business. According to entrepreneur Steve Blank, a startup is a temporary organization made to search for a scalable and repeatable business model. This means that if you don’t have a complete and detailed business plan, your business is most-likely doomed.
Data also confirms this. Tim Berry, the founder of Palo Alto Software, reported on data that refers to the importance of business plans. In fact, he claims that 64% of businesses that have complete business plans have grown, while the percent of growth with businesses that have incomplete plans is 43%.
With your business plan, you basically write what your company does, what are the future plans, and how you’re planning to get there. It should contain the next few years of your business strategy. This is your “business bible” – the book you’ll always come back to, to solve any doubts regarding your business decisions.
The business plan shows how your startup is going to generate revenue and profit. There’s no point of having a company if you don’t have a plan to monetize, even if it’s not right after founding. You won’t have any benefit if your goal is to win more users and charge them nothing.
Network as much as you can
Networking is the core of every successful career and essential activity for every startup CEO. Your company is probably young and unknown, so every new contact can contribute to spreading the word. There’s no point in leading a company if you don’t have a network of people from the industry.
LinkedIn is probably the most common way to do it. Follow people from your industry, engage with them, and share details about your product. Invite them to give you critics and opinions that will help you lead the business and improve your product.
Go to relevant industry events and start writing a blog. This blog could be about your product, industry trends, the CEO life, or anything you find relevant. Share it on your social media profiles and make sure relevant people see it. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and share experiences.
Networking is also useful for meeting great talent. Once your company starts growing, you’ll be in need of great talent that will accelerate your growth and maintain a high level of work. Networking events are great places to meet young people who are full of energy and passionate about the industry.
Don’t quit after the first failure
Having a startup means taking risks. And taking risks means being prepared to fail. And you’ll fail many times before you finally find the right recipe for success. What’s important is to believe in your product and don’t quit after the first obstacle.
For example, in the beginning, Instagram was nothing like what it is today. It wasn’t even called Instagram, it was called Burbn. Burbn was an app where people could check-in where they were at. However, Foursquare, an app that was doing pretty much the same thing, was pretty popular at the time, so the founders realized this product wasn’t going to work. That’s when they saw that people liked Burbn’s photo-sharing option, so they decided to focus on it, which was the real idea for success.
You might think your product idea is great, but you’re not your customer. Your customers might have different needs than yours. To find out what are their needs, use co-creation. Co-creation is a model that allows companies to engage with their customers in order to create a product that will meet their needs. You could use crowdsourcing techniques, like hackathons and makeathons to collect fresh ideas, or design thinking – a method that solves complex problems by understanding human needs. Using co-creation will result in reduced costs, better market insights, and better product design.
It looks like leading a startup is pretty complex. What is certain is that you probably won’t achieve a giant overnight success, so don’t expect that. There’s no way you can skip all the sleepless nights and hard work that will take you where you want to be. The only way to get there faster is to set more realistic goals for growth.