1. Do your market research
The first step of anyone’s business journey begins with an idea, and that great idea should solve a common problem. However, it’s very easy for a founder to get swept away with their idea and start focusing all their time and energy on the product – which is a bad move.
One of the biggest mistakes we often see startups make is focusing on their product and not on their market. Achieving market validation should be your first crucial step in building a successful startup.
You might think your idea is great, but you’re not the one who will be buying it. Focusing on research rather than development is a crucial step in validating that there is, in fact, a market and a real need for your product or service. If there isn’t you may as well quit while you’re ahead and make a start on your next big idea. Search the internet for relevant market research reports, find out what customers are looking for online, research your competitors and speak directly to potential customers for their views on your idea.
2. Stay focused
One of the hardest things to do as a great founder is staying focused, and saying ‘no’ to great ideas. When it comes to building success fast, less is more. If you spread yourself too thin and try to cram additional ideas and features into your product before it’s even launched, it’s going to make it very confusing to try and explain what it is you do to investors and customers.
It’s also going to add to your workload, and it’s going to make it much harder to get a product launched to market before you run out of cash. It is better to have one exceptional product with one amazing feature, rather than a subpar product with several average features.
So in your early stages of starting a business stay focused on one feature, that solves one problem, for one audience. More focus means more progression, which is going to give you the best chance for success. This isn’t to say you can’t add extra features later on, once you have launched and have established yourself in the market.
3. Understand your customer
In reality, businesses exist to serve the customer and they are the key to any businesses success. That’s why it’s so important to understand your target market and what your customers needs, desires and problems are. When you understand the main problem you could solve, you will be able to develop your product or service into a precise solution that meets your customers’ needs.
The best companies in the world know their customers inside out, from their age and gender to their favourite hobbies. Taking the time to really get to know everything about your customers is what will make you stand out from competitors and turn you into a highly successful business.
4. Know your competitors
Make your startup stand out from competitors by learning from them. Find out what it is they do best and do it better. Then find out what areas they need improvement in, and do it better. It is the greatest insight you could ask for, and if you use it to your advantage customers will want to buy from you.
Explore their websites, order their products, use their services and find out as much as you can about their customer journey. Where are they selling their products? How much do they charge? How are they marketing to customers, and are their campaigns effective? This is all invaluable information that can help you build a successful startup.
And remember, you always have competition. When you have a new and innovative idea it’s easy to think you don’t have any competitors, but even if no-one offers the same solution as you, you will still have indirect competitors. Indirect competitors won’t offer the same product or service but they will more than likely fulfil the same customer need. So knowing who your indirect competitors are could help you gain a competitive edge, and could help you predict potential sales, market trends and growth opportunities.
Check out our free competitor analysis template that will help you determine where you sit within the current market landscape. It will help you identify your core competitive advantage, as well as areas of your business that need development or improvement.
5. Nail your marketing strategy
You could create the most ground-breaking, innovative piece of tech the world has ever seen, but what good is that if no one knows about it? A good marketing strategy has so much potential to help your business grow, and it’s the best way to effectively communicate your value proposition to customers. It will help you build brand awareness, increase sales, engage your customers and grow your business.
If you take the four previous tips on board then your marketing strategy will be a much easier process. You will know who you are marketing your product to because you will have done your customer research. And you will have researched your competitors (direct and indirect) so you will have seen what kind of marketing campaigns they have used, and which ones have been more successful than others.
There is a common misconception that marketing budgets are too expensive, so more often than not marketing is put on the back burner as a job to tackle after funding, which isn’t the smartest move. A good marketing strategy could actually save you money in the long run. If you can invest a small fee in your marketing budget and build an engaged audience prior to launch, even before your product exists, it can help you grow a ready-made audience primed to buy your product and will increase your chances of winning over investors.