Getting a business up and running can be a daunting experience. But it can be made a whole lot easier by following a simple set of rules.
Startup Jordan- Robert Carroll
Author Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” You, like many others, have probably found yourself occasionally daydreaming about a business that you would like to start. You’ve also probably experienced for yourself the timeless truth that getting started is the hardest part. As I’ve watched hundreds of founders struggle through the early days of launching their businesses, I’ve put together a short list of the most important steps that founders must take to succeed. These are more of a set of guidelines than an exhaustive study, but use them to your advantage to get off on the right footing.
Identify the problem, and create a unique solution
A great company is built on an entrepreneur’s ability to meet the needs of a specific customer segment. Savvy businesspeople do a lot of observing before they jump into a new venture. They see how people currently solve their everyday problems and ask themselves how it could be done easier. Identifying the problem means you know exactly what frustrates people. Creating a unique solution means you know exactly what people want in order to overcome the problem. One of the biggest hurdles faced by new companies is that they’ve solved a problem that doesn’t exist or they’ve solved it in the way they wanted, not the way the customers wanted. If it’s a problem that you face yourself, make sure it’s a serious pain point—something that truly frustrates you.
Make a list of all the skills it will take to operate your business. This includes graphic design, salesmanship, web development, or accounting. It’s likely that you won’t have all of the skills on the list, so set out to find people who do. The best leaders seek to hire people that are smarter and more talented than they are. I’d recommend finding a cofounder who can complement your skill set and make big decisions with you. Many of the great companies of today are led by cofounders, including Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google. Their unique talents help them see company issues from different perspectives and drive them towards sound solutions. Single founders, who we often idolize as superhuman, celebrity CEOs, are much rarer than we may think. Even Steve Jobs needed Steve Wozniak. You can meet people who may be interested in joining your startup at local meetups, startup bootcamps, startup accelerators, or the entrepreneurship department of a university
Never stop chasing and acquiring customers. There are many ways to do this; get them to use your product in the prototype stage, get them to buy an early version of the product at a low cost, or use Kickstarter.com or Eureeca.com to sell them the product before you’ve even built it. The main message here is to never wait. The longer you wait, the more money you lose and the easier it becomes to give up. Your product doesn’t have to be perfect before you get it out there—just go for it and perfect it along the way.
Spend $10 on your entire marketing budget
Decide on a catchy name for your company (the shorter and easier to spell the better), then set to work on marketing it. The only thing you should pay for is a domain name for about $10. After that, make accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Create a page on Facebook. Make a quick website on WordPress or use Launchrock to create a landing page for your business. Connect all of your accounts so that people can see your business on their preferred platform. Create content that supports your product or service; photos, videos, and blog posts will all do. All the while you need to be updating your customers on a daily basis via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You can tell them about new features, current development and anything else they might find interesting. My only rules for successful marketing are to be consistent with your message and engage with your customers frequently.
Keep in mind that the best marketing isn’t done on the computer, but out with your customers. Hold contests, create partnerships, be at trade shows, and simply help people. When it comes to marketing, the foundation of every online interaction should be real life engagement.
Never stop improving
Businesses fail because the managing team gets complacent, so never stop trying to be better at what you do. Create a constant feedback loop to keep everyone on their toes. An internal loop will help you manage the company better. An external loop will help you understand the changing needs of customers. Just because your product is selling today doesn’t necessarily mean it will sell tomorrow. Hire brilliant people and make sure their opinion gets to the very top of the company. Managers should hold weekly one-on-one meetings with their direct reports so that information flows freely through the company. Develop a culture of trying new things and being comfortable with failure. Mark Zuckerberg helped Facebook do this by evangelizing the motto: “Move fast and break things.”
Following these five steps won’t guarantee success (you will still need passion, hard work, and a little bit of luck) but you will get off to a good start. Take this advice and build the company of your dreams.