There’s a certain vibe associated with the startup scene, namely: flexible hours, open office spaces and a casual culture. These are common (and great) traits of startups, but any entrepreneur will tell you that it’s not all fun and games. Running a startup is risky, stressful and just plain hard. Despite these difficulties, there are some important things entrepreneurs can do to avoid failure and charge ahead toward success. Here are seven essential tips that will go a long way to ensure your startup’s success.
Meet Real Market Needs
About 40% of startups fail because there is no market need for their product or service. When you’re really pumped about an idea, it’s tempting to jump right in without doing the proper research. Don’t make this mistake! Determining your product-market fit is absolutely crucial to the success of your startup. Host focus groups to identify the size and demographic of your market. Ask yourself how you can mold your product or service to best-fit customer needs and widen your reach. Successful startups are focused on serving a market need and the interesting problem behind it.
While it’s great to achieve your startup’s critical objectives for growth, doing so by using as few resources as possible is the real key to success. New businesses lack resources, so maximizing your company’s time and money can be the difference between success and failure. To save time, use outsourcing tools that will dramatically increase your efficiency. Although you may think that outsourcing tools are a waste of money, they can deliver real cost savings and help you avoid burnout.
Build a Learning Culture
Create a positive learning culture where leaders and employees are continually encouraged, challenged and given opportunities to learn new skills. The key to building a learning culture is to encourage your team to learn new skills regularly, and support them along the way. It’s important to offer support without micromanaging, which can actually be unproductive. There are many ways to facilitate a learning culture. Invite guest speakers monthly or quarterly, establish an office hours system or set a shared goal for the quarter. Find the cadence that works best for your business and stick to it. Companies that fail to develop a positive learning culture will not only experience high employee turnover, but they will also struggle to keep their customers and, ultimately, fall behind the competition.
Create Memorable Experiences
Create experiences that deliver beyond what your customer expects from your competitors. If you’re a services based company, you can do this by providing expert solutions, timely deliverables and excellent and creative customer service. If you’re a CPG company, invest in creative packaging and develop clever digital media strategies. If you’re offering a technology product, invest in UI/UX and technical product team members that can deliver an outstanding user experience. There is a lot of competition out there. Delivering your customers a memorable experience will ensure loyalty and increase the likelihood that your clients will tell their friends!
Instead of the traditional “push” model of sales and marketing, make it easy for your customers to engage with you and your products without them feeling the pressure of commitment. Make sure your business is easily found through several channels, both on and offline. Create an approachable environment that encourages browsing. Make it easy for customers to learn about your services or products, and build relationships with potential customers by offering real value and genuine help. Delightful customer support can go a long way.
Don’t Fear Competition
Competition inspires greatness and fuels success. It’s also a sign that there is a market need for your product or service. Don’t fear competition, but rather see it as an opportunity to differentiate yourself and highlight the areas where you thrive. Pay attention to what your customers love about your product, and what they don’t love. Use that feedback to separate yourself from the rest!
Concentrate On Your Core
Instead of trying to take over the world all at once, commit your resources to achieving a few high-level objectives that establish and strengthen the foundation of your business. To ensure you focus on the right thing, brainstorm and write out your top goals. Anything below your top three should be put on the backburner until you’re able to achieve your top goals. Keep the list nearby; you might find that some of your lower level objectives directly help you meet your top three goals.
Entrepreneurship can be daunting. It’s easy (and normal) to feel overwhelmed, confused and frustrated. It’s important to stay clear about your vision and goals to define what success looks like for your company. Be resourceful as you focus first on goals that develop and support your foundation. Create delightfully positive experiences for your customers, and support your employees to learn and grow. The residual effects of happy customers and happy employees will directly impact your business for the better.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted on May 5, 2017 and has been completely updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.