Every startup is hard work, that much is true, but launching one in the tech industry is infinitely more difficult and competitive than most others. Part of the problem is how saturated the current market is. Very few ideas are original these days, and that means you’ll be going up against several brands who do exactly what you do, and sometimes even do it better.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. On the contrary, it simply means that when you do try, you must give it all you’ve got. There are no half-measures in Silicon Valley, at least not if you hope to succeed.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only half of all startups succeed. There are many reasons, including poor design, ineffective hiring processes, inflexibility and less-than-stellar management. Almost all of these traits can be attributed to a lack of planning or experience when it comes to launching a new venture. That, in and of itself, is a completely different task altogether that requires varying talents, knowledge and levels of dedication.
Even if you’ve been with another, more successful company and have plenty of experience in your field—management, Chief Executive Officer roles or otherwise—it doesn’t mean launching your own startup is going to be easy. But advice and guidance certainly help.
What are some things you can take with you on your new venture that will prove invaluable? What do you need to know before making your move?
1. Remember That True Growth Takes Time and Patience
Sometimes, a brand or team will get lucky, their content or services will go viral and success will be achieved almost overnight. It’s not a pipe dream in the sense that it never happens, but it is one in the sense that you can garner such a trajectory for your own startup. These rapid successes are more the exception than they are the rule, and that’s an incredibly important thing to remember.
True growth and success take time and lots of patience to acquire along with plenty of dedication. Even the savviest tech influencers out there didn’t become successful overnight. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Sundar Pichai, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg. Every single one of these executives spent a considerable amount of time working toward success before they achieved it.
Once the product is designed and decided, you have to enter mass production. Before doing even this, you may have to seek funding for your operations, which can take up to a year or more. Then, you may even need to undergo more revision and development before launching your product, especially if your investors have concerns.
Finally, the product launches to the public, and it’s maintenance time. You may have to release software updates or bug fixes, or in a worst-case scenario, you may even have to recall your device and fix whatever is wrong. Many factors and elements go into a product launch, and the common denominator between all of them is time. In fact, it’s a lot like starting a band, which also takes time.
2. Get to Know Your Customers and Target Audience
When you’ve had years to perfect your products and services and have been effectively working with your customers for quite some time, there’s a certain amount of understanding that comes along. As a startup, however, you have absolutely none of that, and it doesn’t instill the best confidence when you’re making decisions or taking action.
That’s why it’s incredibly important that you take time to research and understand your audience and target customers. What is it that they want, not just on a surface level but long-term? Do they need to be trained to use your products or services? Is there direct competition, and how do your customers feel about it? Of course, these questions merely scratch the surface, but you get the idea.
You have to be willing to invest the time and resources it takes to get to know your audience before you even launch. Doing so will help shape your brand’s goals and overall mission so that you can deliver something truly worthy of customers’ money.
3. Find Worthy Investors
When you’re seeking capital or funds, it’s difficult to be partial, especially because investors will be one of the major sources for keeping you afloat. But that’s exactly why you need to take your time and find someone who meets your needs and ideals and understands what you’re trying to do.
Here are some great questions to ask yourself during the research and vetting phase:
- Will your investors give you ample time to build a great product, service and brand?
- Do their morals and core values align with yours and your team’s?
- Do they have a track record, and if so, what does it look like?
- Do they understand the market you’re serving, and can they accept revisions?
- Do they plan to impose any stipulations, ultimatums or limitations you need to be aware of?
It’s important to understand that most investors are considered “partners” or “allies,” and for good reason. You’re not just collecting money to meet a requirement. You’re building a valuable relationship that will serve as a foundation for future endeavors, specifically in regards to your current brand or venture.
If you find it difficult to discern much about your investor, you might want to look elsewhere. A great way to test out a potential relationship is to see if you’re comfortable communicating, sharing and discussing various elements of your business or products with said partner. If the answer is no to any of those, don’t go forward with the partnership.
4. Mind Your Credentials and Certifications
In the past, it wasn’t so much a concern whether or not you met the appropriate credential, certification and regulatory requirements. In the current landscape, that’s no longer the case, especially when it comes to data security and privacy for your customers.
You must deploy and develop a company philosophy that adheres to the appropriate measures right from the start. Data security, for instance, doesn’t start with a small subset of your team or IT-enabled workers. It falls on everyone involved to ensure that proper protocols are followed.
It’s always a good idea for a small business or relatively new startup to undergo ISO certification and compliance testing. A common misconception is that this stage is a concern only for larger organizations and companies, but that’s far from true. A certification can also benefit small businesses in the long run.
By getting a head start on all this, you ensure that your startup has the necessary requirements to move forward, even long into the future.
5. Focus on the Present, But Plan to Scale
Everything from the office or working space you choose to the materials you source for your products is ultimately going to be selected and tailored to your current setup. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think ahead. In fact, startups especially must be prepared to scale up—as much as down—to meet growing demands.
Make sure when you’re deciding on these elements — such as a workspace, for instance — that you’re also planning ahead. Is there enough room for you and your team to grow? What about the current location will be a hindrance, and can it be easily remedied, or will you have to move to fix the problem?
Eventually, you’ll have enough capital to make a move to a bigger space, source better materials or come up with premium resources. But when you’re first starting out, it’s not exactly the right time to consider such things. Just make sure you have ample room to grow and scale so that when it’s time to spread your wings, you have a little wiggle room.
Success Is Achieved Through Time and Dedication
As long as you follow the tips and measures discussed here, you should find yourself on the road to success. Remember, even though it may seem otherwise, there are no shortcuts. Most of your hard work and dedication will pay off eventually, but it takes time. Don’t become disenfranchised before you even get a chance to taste the fruits of your labor.
Bio: Nathan Sykes is the founder of Finding an Outlet, where he writes about the latest in all things business and technology. To check out his latest articles, follow Nathan on Twitter @nathansykestech