So, what does it take to achieve business success?
How did Amazon go from an online bookseller to the global e-commerce giant it is today? What did Apple do to become the largest tech company in the world? How did Sergey Brin and Larry Page take Google from a two-man, dorm-room operation to the most-visited website in the world?
There are six things that startups can do to increase their chances of business success:
1. Don’t be Afraid to Take That First Step!
If you have a great idea, don’t be afraid to take a chance on it. Do some research, explore its potential, and brainstorm the things you’d need to do to get it off the ground.
Scanner Joe, explains, “…getting the courage to get started is the biggest challenge an entrepreneur has. Everything else is not easier though, but the first steps seems to be the longest one.”
2. Have a Perfect Product
Ultimately, people need to like what you do, and want what you produce. This is what will gain you sales, market share, and a loyal customer base.
But, remember, just because you like your idea, it doesn’t mean that others will. You still need to do the groundwork if you want to achieve business success. Get feedback from customers, carry out regular product tests, do market research, and set up focus groups. Most importantly, listen to your customers and use their feedback to change, innovate and perfect your product.
3. Grow, and Grow Fast!
Growth is the only way to get potential investors interested. Being profitable gives you more money to plough back into your product development, manufacturing processes and staff. It also makes you an attractive investment.
But small amounts of growth won’t do: you need to achieve double-digit growth. If this doesn’t happen early on, chances are it will never happen.
4. Be Versatile
Startup teams must be responsive and resilient. When things go wrong, which they can do very quickly, people need to be able to jump in and deal with problems there and then.
It helps if you’re multi-skilled, too. You’ll need to be able to turn your hand to product development, marketing, negotiation, compliance, and strategy.
5. Don’t Get Overloaded
Trying to get a startup off the ground is no easy feat. There’s no doubt that it’s going to monopolize much of your brain power. But, immersing yourself in work completely, will likely lead to fatigue, stress and burnout.
As LinkedIn follower and small business owner of New Noise Audio, Stacey Hollis explains, “…make sure you keep your work/life balance in check. Running your own business can consumer a lot of your time and energy, so making sure you schedule in breaks, exercise and also time with friends and family is just as important. If you don’t have your health and well-being, you won’t have a business at all!”
6. Get a Business Partner
Some of the most powerful companies in the world have co-founders. For example, Google (Sergey Brin and Larry Page), Apple (Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs), and Microsoft (Bill Gates and Paul Allen).
When you’re at the helm of a budding startup, it can be scary. But, as the old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” Having a partner can help to ease the pressure and stress that comes with running a business. He or she may have complementary skills, provide emotional support, and be on hand to help out with the day-to-day. And an alternate perspective may help to broaden your vision and avoid the risk of mistakes being overlooked.
7. Know That Failing is Part of Business Success
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how much time, energy or money you throw at a product, it still ends up being a “dud.”
Perhaps you launched it at the wrong time (in an economic downturn, for instance), it was too expensive, the marketing campaign was terrible, or customers simply didn’t like it. Unless you can see a different route, or you have the funds to change the product significantly, it’s probably best to quit while you’re ahead.
Product failures can be notoriously expensive and damaging to your brand. Consider Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7, for instance. The phone, which launched in 2016, was lauded for its superior storage, design and usability, and may well have been a hit if it weren’t for the fact that it occasionally caught fire and exploded. It was soon banned outright from flights, and Samsung had no choice but to recall the entire model. The ordeal reportedly cost the company $1 billion, and a further $17 billion in lost sales.
And Samsung is not alone. Google has had a number of “flops” in the past, too. Its virtual world, Google Lively, lasted just six months before being pulled, and its augmented reality eye-wear, Google Glass, was withdrawn from the consumer market in 2015.
A failure doesn’t have to spell the end, though! One thing that all great entrepreneurs have in common is that they have failed multiple times – and they bounced back.
Take Sarah Blakely, founder of shapewear brand Spanx. She credits her business success specifically to her failures. “I’d get kicked out of buildings all day long,” she remembered. “People would rip up my business card in my face. It’s a humbling business to be in. But I knew I could sell and I knew I wanted to sell something I had created.” Spanx is now worth just over $1 billion – not bad for a company that Blakely started with just $5,000.
So, if something doesn’t work, try something new. Don’t give up, no matter how down on your luck you feel. As Thomas Edison once said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Do you work in a startup? How do you deal with failure? And, what do you think are the key ingredients to business success?