By Wladimir Hinz, RIC Centre Research Associate
It’s a complex and exciting thing to be an entrepreneur these days, but there are plenty of challenges that go along with this lifestyle. If you are thinking of starting a business, this article provides important insights into some of the issues startups face and plenty of resources on how to address them!
- Crystallize your customers’ pain points:
Figuring out what’s making your customers suffer every day is key to developing the perfect product or service. Usually, business consumers make purchases to solve a problem; whether it’s to increase revenue, reduce expenses or generate productivity. Only by identifying those problems – the real problems – is how the pain points become clear. Every strategy needs to target those pain points, especially sales.
- Create an affordable solution differentiated from your competition:
Standing out in the market is not an easy thing to do. There are a number of strategies that you can pursue, but the most important is to create a value-added product. Focus on your strengths (and on your competitions’ weaknesses) and do what you do better than anybody else, constantly.
- Validate your MVP and gather testimonials:
Testing your idea with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), serves two main purposes, so you can make sure that your solution is 1) technically viable and 2) has business capabilities. These tests might seem like a logical and good idea, but there are some business experts who oppose the idea of going public with a lesser product, so it all depends on the specifics of your business and who you ask. Here are several ways you can track the progress of an MVP’s performance.
- Build a strong startup team and advisory board:
For startups, it’s crucial to have the right people at the right time, especially at C-level positions. There’s an important difference between the founder, founding team and the company’s CEO that has to be crystal clear from the beginning. Having a great team is vital for startups since team member synergies and attributes can complement each other in a productive way. Also, setting up an advisory team with individuals that have created comparable businesses or thrived in similar industries will surely help in the long run.
- Bootstrap or seek angel investment/venture capital:
Deciding on a funding strategy is never easy, more so when a company is at its early stages. Every subtlety can determine the company’s future scale, growth, ownership and control. It’s also important that wherever the funds come from, that they are smart capital.
- Market throughout the startup’s growth stage to generate awareness and sales:
Audience, loyalty, reach and engagement matter because they create value to customers which turns into a positive ROI. Set goals, run campaigns, track results and tie everything to the main objective. If you’re spending money on something you need to know why. All advertising is about dollar value returns. If no return on investment (ROI) can be measured, no resources should be spent.
- Pursue excellent customer service:
It’s obvious that you want your customers to be happy, but this is also a powerful way to gain insights and feedback about your product. Delighting customers so that they feel special can actually turn into more sales, just by focusing on each individual customer. When resources are scarce, it’s vital to understand what your customers value the most.
- If things aren’t going well so far: Don’t be afraid to pivot!
Pivoting can come naturally or as a determined strategic decision. Don’t be afraid. A large number of famous companies had to pivot to find their successful products or solutions. Track everything and if the current business model isn’t generating profits, make changes!
- If a pivot doesn’t save your company, then try to fail fast:
No one likes to fail, but if you are going to do it, make it happens sooner rather than later. Getting out quickly is better than getting overly attached and having to spend more time and money on a project that is bound to flop. Recognizing failure is an important quality for entrepreneurs as well as learning from their mistakes.
- Always stay innovative to delight customers:
Finally, it is necessary to nurture your startup culture of innovation. Products and solutions need to constantly evolve, especially as the company grows. If innovation is not encouraged, your competitor is bound to take over your space and/or worse your company could spiral towards mediocrity.
All these tips vary from company to company, so it’s important to keep in mind that each business is different and, although it’s possible to get insights from case studies, each startup is a world of its own.