There can be no substitute for hard work, and if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. These are the hallmarks of a mindset which has not only the fortitude to endure and a deliverable which is profitable but a resilient message to project to the community at-large. Attempting to launch an idea from your imagination into the free market is not for everyone; moreover, those that would try are often met with ominous challenges as they enter this fast-paced, hyper-competitive environment.
Even the prepared and ambitious can be overwhelmed easily trying to understand venture capitalists, valuation, portfolio management, deliverable deadlines, and corporate branding. All of which are critical areas that require almost continuous attention. Despite having above average success in each of these arenas, failure is always lurking around each and every corner. Most will contemplate abandoning their dream each and every day, privately saddled with doubt, and second guesses. It is an experience that can come to define a person, and enamor the masses with a tale of tribulation and obstacles overcome; or, it becomes a footnote to a life of hitting the snooze button and counting vacation days. Entrepreneur’s like Steve Jobs to the guy that invented the Pet Rock, had success due, not only to their cunning business sense or diligent work-ethic, but to how they had presented their idea to the world. There are several key parallels which are worth noting; however, none are as more ubiquitous and overlooked as the effort to market your start-up to the community for which is was designed.
An Intrinsic Platform
The persona of a start-up generally tends to design a product and/or service which are quite innovative and perhaps an alternative solution to current problems which are only partially or not at all addressed with current convention. They also tend to be either highly complicated or ironically simple in nature, as they tend to address either an inadequate solution which society has on a regular occurrence, like introducing virtual reality with sophisticated sensors to track patient progress in a physical therapy clinic replacing crudely fashioned tools and rubber bands; or address an over complicated existing solution to a previously solved problem with a smaller more practical approach like water filtration straws which remove toxins and poisons from drinking water as opposed to suffering the historical convention of trying to find clean drinkable water.
Prepared for the Unexpected
The characteristics of a successful start-up are as distinguishable as the individuals which began them. In fact the individual characteristics are so distinct that they are even the focal point of a hit series on HBO. It follows as no surprise that the brilliant minds in the valleys of California that found a way to weave silicon into gold, also tend to think and behave noticeably different. They will anticipate and improvise where others would have been, most likely, blind-sided. They will take risks, unnecessarily at times, for opportunities toward growth; moreover, and arguably most well-known, is their tendency to sacrifice. They endlessly spend un-clocked hours of the day, time during nights and weekends, away from friends and family, losing sleep, all to pursue their next step toward success. Most will recall when Mark Zuckerberg purchased Instagram for a whopping one billion dollars, and wasn't lauded for his decision; however, he could see an opportunity for growth which most other could not, and as a result made a spectacular addition to his company. Find a way to appreciate what others overlook, and you begin to see the value where common hubris has blinded the masses. Be ready to make an unpopular move from time to time, or a decision which only you may appreciate at the time.
The Marketing Message
An idea is only as powerful as its message. This is a pervasive aspect of a successful company regardless of whether or not it’s a start-up or a blue-chip. There is a reason why fortune 500 companies spend almost half of their profits on marketing every year, and dedicate massive resources on branding, commercials, apparel, and promotional literature. It works. If your desire is to join the ranks of the great success stories and have not taken your marketing and sales presence to higher and higher levels as you have grown, you are collision course with mediocrity. The necessity for creating a comprehensive strategy for reaching a larger audience and investing accordingly should be as high a priority as the company’s deliverable and being a start-up is no excuse. Customer acquisition and public outreach are aspects of every successful story in business, and the sooner you begin treating it as a higher priority and tracking your ROI as the business evolves, the sooner your audience will blossom. Simply put, the strength of a successful start-up is dependent on not only being brilliant, and dedicated, but on how your project is built and how the community receives it.
Start-ups in practice and beginnings are very much alike with a passion for making an impact on the world. They seek to address inadequacies in the world and design business models to address them. Start-up founders have the spirit and method for success, but they also need to be just as brilliant in their products inventive process’ as they are in its marketing. Successful start-ups create solutions, and they make sure that connecting with the people that needed their solution the most is of the highest priority. A start-up’s business model should be an intrinsic platform which addresses a customer’s problem so perfectly it seems natural, begging the question, “…Why didn’t I think of that…?” Just so, there are two types of paths to walk in life either you build your dream, or you help someone else build theirs. Some of us can only be happy when we walk down one of those roads.