There are many things that a startup entrepreneur needs to keep in mind in order to succeed in a market that is largely dominated by multinationals and domestic industry leaders. Most of these things revolve around the financial, emotional, and technical aspects of running a business. Here are five things that, if you keep them in mind, will always come in handy throughout your startup journey:
1. Always remember the problem you are solving
Before opening your startup doors for the first time, you must have identified a problem in your domestic or local market that you wanted to solve. You will remain in business for as long as you solve that problem. Always remember that the success of any business isn’t founded on the revenue it generates at a given time but by the customer base it builds.
You will only create a customer base if people find a real-life value in your products or services, and then use that base to drive sales, make conversions, and grow your business. Remember not to create a new problem when trying to solve another problem.
You also need to study the primary causes of problems that your startup is trying to solve and focus on them instead of secondary problems. That way, you’ll build the most valuable product in the market. It’ll also help you gain a competitive edge in a market that’s crowded with solutions. How can you tell if your startup is solving the right problem?
Through these two ways:
- You’re simplifying your customers’ lives. You’re offering something that your customers need to live an easy and comfortable life. You have a clear picture of who your target customers really are, what motivates them, what they’re striving to achieve, and the challenges they face.
- Your products are outshining other products in the market. You’re solving a problem better than other competing solutions. You have uniquely approached your customer’s problems and you’re addressing the root cause of the problem, not just the surface level.
2. Your competition can push you out of business
You cannot run a successful business in a bubble; you must compete with other businesspeople. You must have the best ideas and best execution plans to be the best in your target market. You should refrain from stealing ideas from competitors, but you must always protect your ideas from spying eyes.
With that in mind, you need to understand how your existing competitors (as well as your would-be competitors) handle their business so that you can tailor your marketing and growth strategies in a manner that keeps you competitive in the long run.
This is how you create a database for your competitors:
Visit their stores and see the products they offer, and then figure out a way of beating them in their own game
- Study their pricing, packaging, and any after-sales services. Find loopholes in the system and capitalize on it.
- Check their social media accounts. How do they appeal to the target market? What are they not doing right? What is working for them?
- What are online users saying about your competitors vis-à-vis what they say about you?
- Are there any networks or suppliers that give your competitors an upper hand over your startup?
Bottom line: Understand what your competition is doing (or not doing) so you can satisfy the market in a better way.
3. Your success is dependent on your team
Hire the best talents in the local labor market or your competitors will. If you are looking to hire employees in a foreign country, let’s say in China, you can partner with a China PEO, who will help you select and hire the best talents.
You cannot compete effectively without a strong team; without the right talents for the job. How do you attract the right talents? By being clear about your company policy and vision and by convincing young talents that your startup offers them the best chance for growth. You may not have the money to pay them as they want, but it is easy to find like-minded people who are willing to grow with you if you share your ideas with them.
Hire people that fit into your company’s culture. But to do that, you need to have a clear understanding of your culture. Identify things that characterize your culture and traits that potential employees must possess to make them a perfect fit. When interviewing candidates, ask them questions that will clearly bring out the qualities you’re looking for. Bear in mind that a candidate may have all the qualifications and relevant experience but lack the characters that are in line with your culture.
To grow, you need flexibility. Nothing is guaranteed with a startup. You can succeed within a year, within 5 years, or you could find yourself needing to re-launch your business even before you get it up and running. You will constantly need to modify strategies, scrape off some of them, and adopt new ideas along the way, even as much as you try to keep the original idea.
Who knows; you can even get a partner who is willing to inject a huge investment into the startup, so it grows exponentially from what you originally envisioned. You might have 10 employees this year and over 50 employees next year. You could be operating in Florida this year and in the next two years, you’ve relocated to California. All these inconsistencies can only be countered through flexibility.
When your startup grows, it will need a bigger office space, which will force you to either remodel your office or relocate. If you need to relocate, you will need to clear with your landlord and fulfill some costly rent obligations. These are some of the inconveniences that come with growth. To avoid them, the best thing to do is to set up your office in a co-working space. There will always be a space for you whenever you want to expand your workforce. What’s more, you don’t have any contract with a landlord, so you can leave whenever you want.
5. Self-discipline is key
You have to exercise self-control when it comes to managing your budget, your employees, customers- everything you do! Remember your goal at all times. Remember that the employees are there to help you actualize your dream, not theirs, so you must treat them and guide them well. Remember that during the startup phase, you are the face of the company. If you make a mistake in your personal life, that mistake might affect your business.
Self-discipline offers you inner strength and enhances your confidence, allowing you to make decisions in a calm and professional way. It allows you to navigate difficult times and turn tough situations to your advantage. It also helps you follow through with your plans, regardless of the obstacles you encounter.
Being self-disciplined turns you from a dreamer into a doer. By developing a plan and sticking to it no matter how simple or complex it is you can accomplish a lot. Being self-disciplined gets rid of procrastination, obsessive behavior, and laziness. This enables you to take action and transform your vision into reality.
This is actually a bonus tip: Be careful of whom you accept funding from. Some people will invest in your idea with the intention of imposing their ideas on you after you accept their check. Money is a big deal for a startup entrepreneur, but it should not define who you are or what your business is about.