A Few Tips For Launching Your Start-Up
Tip 1 – Take Risks
One of the most important steps in launching a start-up is having the courage to take risks. This can be easier when you are younger, however, your ability to make wiser, more calculated decisions may be better as an older entrepreneur. Whatever the case, without taking risks, you will never be successful.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
Tip 2 – Continuously Innovate
Success is rarely accomplished by doing what your competition is already doing. Be sure to ask the important questions and continually challenge yourself and your team. Here are the questions we ask at Inkling Design Team.
• What problem are we solving that hasn’t already been solved?
• What are our competitors doing right, and how can it be improved?
• What are our competitors doing wrong, and how can it be avoided?
• Could this be made to go faster, be smaller, or do more for our customers?
• What is my customer’s biggest goal/motivation? Can we help them achieve it?
• What is my customer’s biggest obstacle/fear? Can we help them overcome it?
• How would Steve Jobs (and a few other key leaders) look at solving this problem?
Looking at your industry, competitors, customers, and business model with an unbiased and critical eye is often the key to developing a unique selling proposition (USP) that will set your business apart and propel you to success.
“There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.”
Tip 3 – View Your Time As Precious
This is perhaps the one area where most startups and entrepreneurs make the biggest mistake – valuing their own time. Often this is because many start-ups, my businesses being no exception, need to do whatever it takes to get business, build a portfolio, develop satisfied clients that future (full price) clients can call and find out just how amazing your business really is. By all means, do the deep discounts, or even pro bono work if that’s the quickest way to get your customers to start paying full price for your services.
But when you are giving your services away, don’t ever forget exactly what your services are worth, and be sure to get some added value out of it – referrals, write-ups, recommendations, etc. Make sure your client agrees they just got the deal of a lifetime, and when they recommend you to their friends, they know your regular prices and feel they are fair.
One last thing about valuing your time. Often the most efficient and cost-effective strategy initially, is for you to wear all the hats. But eventually, you need to have a clear plan as to when you will begin delegating those tasks to others because your business will be more productive with you doing other tasks. You should look at yourself as the most precious employee of your company, and value your time as the highest paid employee – even if you haven’t ever paid yourself a dime. After all, who knows your business better than you?
Tip 4 – Don’t Slit Your Throat By Being The Low Price Guys
If your upstart’s sole marketing strategy is to win by being cheaper, you have already lost the war. You might as well pack up your bags and go home. You will save yourself three years of hell, and your investors hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Why? Your competitors have been successfully running their businesses for years. They already have large War Chests. If necessary, they could easily drop their prices, temporarily run at a loss as they starve your business, and then pick up your company for pennies on the dollar in the bankruptcy settlement. It happens all the time.
The one clear advantage startups have over existing companies is the ability to clearly identify holes in the market and fill those holes with a product/service that solves the problem. Where are the holes in your industry?