The difference between a new company and a very successful business takes a lot of hard work, a little bit of luck, timing, and vision. Many successful corporations such as Starbucks and even Amazon were at one point a startup, but they followed their dreams and look at where they are now! As an entrepreneur or startup company, it’s challenging to succeed. The odds are typically stacked against a startup, but positive lessons and making smart business decisions can help a business get to where they need to go to succeed.
Author Cowan brings up a few valid points when developing a tech company. First, he asks how do you know if an idea is worth pursuing and second, he asks how to take an idea and make it into a business. Both questions are important to consider carefully!
How do you know if you have an idea worth pursuing?
Your first step is to confront the critical question of whether you want to look back in twenty years at an idea that likely could have been successful, knowing you did nothing.
How do you take your idea from good to viable business?
Success is a repeatable process. Arriving at a product/market fit that enables a good business is something everyone can do.
Just like Cowan asks if an idea is worth pursuing, you should also ask yourself if your product is something you would use. If it isn’t, then you better rethink your idea. To make sure your idea succeeds, then you need to be passionate about it as well. Similarly, Forbes also mentions how important it is to educate your target audience by making things simple and clear.
Make Sure Your Product Is Something You Would Use
Would you use your product or service on a regular basis? If not, your users probably won't either. No matter how great the idea sounds, you need people using it. If you are a regular user, so many things become easier: highlighting the best features in marketing materials, getting ideas for improvement, creating motivation to work, etc. – Matthew Kolb, Class Finders
Educate Your Target Market With A Clear, Simple Message
The more competitive the industry, the more options your target market will have, and therefore the more information they'll have to review on each option to choose a vendor. In such situations, all else being equal, prospects will gravitate toward the vendor that makes things clearer and easier. So, clarify, simplify and educate, and you'll win their attention, trust and, ultimately, business. – Simon Smith, BenchSci
Startup founders sometimes offer the best advice, which is why The Muse compiled some tips from various founders. Here are a few that stood out to us:
The best advice is to not give yourself too much credit when times are good and too much blame when times are bad. Once you realize that luck plays a necessary role in success, it makes you both more humble and more self-confident at the same time.
—Ethan Austin, Co-founder and President of Give Forward
As a founder—or anyone who feels proud of and close to the product he or she creates—you struggle to have the right perspective about your business. It's easy to get too close, and that can be distracting. Here's the good and bad news: No one is looking at your work as closely as you are. So, remember that when you're on hour four debating which shade of navy blue works best for your logo. Yes, details matter. But at a certain point, you have to let go and move on to the next thing.
—Pavia Rosati, Founder of Fathom
We've been fortunate to have many incredible mentors throughout our journey building EverTrue. But these mentors often provide conflicting advice. ‘Go after big accounts!' ‘Go after small accounts!' ‘Go B2C!' ‘Go B2B!' Mentors provide a point of view based on their professional experiences and limited perspective into our market and customer base. Katie Rae helped my fellow TechStars founders and me understand that while mentor feedback is extremely valuable, we ultimately need to make key decisions ourselves.
—Brent Grinna, Founder of EverTrue
If you’ve started hiring employees or already have a great set of employees in place, then it’s essential to understand their needs. Forbes argues that empowered employees will feel appreciated and therefore will give their all to your company. While you’re at it, make sure your technology connects with people on an emotional level, both with your employees and customers who keep you in business. Keep the human factor in mind as Forbes recommends and people will be more likely to identify and stay loyal to your products.
Understand Your Employees’ Needs
Executives need to better understand their employees' needs and desires. Executives sometimes lose touch of basic employee needs. Employees need a purpose, they need to feel empowered and that they make a difference. If you work with employees to better understand them and their needs, you will build a strong technical team that is growing personally and technically and will be more engaged. – Michael Hoyt, Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.
Connect Technology At An Emotional Level
Having the ability to connect technology at an emotional level will be important. As technology continues to become more ubiquitous, people will choose what they adopt, and technologies that people can relate to emotionally will hold higher value and loyalty. Also, technology offers so many altruistic possibilities that it's important for us to shape it with the human factor in mind. – Peter Kuang, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness
When it comes time to pitch your idea to someone that matters, it’s vital to hit the ball out of the park. Don’t back down and don’t doubt your plan, because it’s your time to shine. PC elaborates on why it’s imperative you give a killer pitch that will have everyone asking when they get to buy your product.
Glympse is a location-sharing app that has leveraged its consumer app into a business-facing startup play to help transform brick-and-mortar business with mobile location data at the point-of-sale (POS). The company has raised more than $41 million. Glympse CEO Bryan Trussel said that, when it comes to pitching to potential investors, ‘pretty good' won’t hack it.
“Only the extreme outliers will get funded. So, even if it's risky, go for the standout pitch,” said Trussel. “Pretend you’ll be rated on a scale of one to 10 after your pitch. Only a 10 matters. One through four is a one; you’re done. Five through nine is a five; they might remember you and say ‘interesting,' but you’re done. Only a 10 is success and hopefully opens the door to the 10- or 60-minute pitch. Don't shoot for a high batting average; shoot for home runs. From a successful funding strategy, a .300 batting average and no home runs is worse than a .100 batting average with two homers.”
“The one piece of advice I always give to budding entrepreneurs is to talk to those whose businesses did not make it,” added Trussel. “It’s easy to focus solely on folks who are successful, and they will give you lots of important insights and learnings. But it is equally important to learn about how and why a company or an idea didn't make it.”
After you get the green light to move forward with your product, it’s time to market the heck out of it. Implementing different strategies that’ll help your product succeed is what will propel your vision forward and help customers believe in your product. PC Mag mentions more on why building and refining your tech startup will help it grow exponentially.
HashiCorp has upended the software development landscape by fundamentally re-architecting how to build and run a modular app infrastructure. The startup has raised more than $34 million in funding and counts most of the major tech giants as partners. Founders Mitchell Hashimoto and Armon Dadgar said the best advice they have for startups is to be absolutely prolific in building, iterating, improving, and refining your products to fit the market you're targeting.
“You have to make a 10x improvement somewhere,” said Hashimoto. “The cost of change for a lot of software is very high. It's not enough to simply be better; you must be at least 10x better in at least one category such as stability, usability, features, etc. A 2x improvement doesn’t usually justify the high cost of adopting something new.”
“Product and market fit take many iterations to determine. It’s rare to get it right the first time,” added Dadgar. “This means you should have a sense of urgency to get to market, and rapidly experiment to determine the best fit. Our commercial strategy took many iterations to get to where we are today. We would definitely be dead if we stuck with our initial ideas. It’s hard to know what product feature, marketing message, or sales strategy will resonate. Doing a lot of things increases the odds that something takes hold. We’ve often had to iterate on our features and pitch to get things to stick.”
Entrepreneur recommends focusing on a single purpose with your business and don’t back down. Staying consistent will help customers know what you have to offer and what you stand by. Stick to your plan and expertise to get loyal customers.
Brand with a single purpose. From day one, we branded Fueled as mobile first and only, and we’ve ridden the wave of mobile’s dominance ever since. We’re grateful to receive the bulk of our new business through client referrals and friends. We do more than mobile apps — website design, branding, SEO, community building — but it’s our mobile brand and expertise that gets people in the door.