Business Startup 101: Keys to Success

Fail fast, fail often.

That mantra was glorified by Silicon Valley, then by entrepreneurs around the world.

Thomas Edison didn’t get the memo. He finally succeeded in creating a lightbulb after 9,000 “failures”.

And it hasn’t impressed Elon Musk, who continues to reach for the stars despite multiple misfires.

The truth is, study after study shows that over 20% of business start-ups meet an untimely end within their first year.

But nobody sets out to fail.

So instead of telling yourself, “I’ll get it right next time” – do everything you can to get it right this time.

Business PlanningJust Do It?

Maybe not.

The single biggest reason for startup failure is that they’ve created a product or service that the market doesn’t want or need.

Maybe they’ve come up with a solution to a problem of their own – without determining that other people share that problem.

Maybe there are already products out there that effectively address these problems.

Maybe the market wasn’t ready for it – or just didn’t need it.

A startup that fails is a startup that doesn’t solve a market problem.

Check the Fit

Product/market fit is critical

You could have superb technology, good shopping behavior data, a great reputation and expertise – but if your business model isn’t focused on solving a pain point in a scalable way, you’re headed nowhere.

Your startup isn’t about selling a cool idea: it’s about selling your customers a solution.

If you invest all your efforts into building for yourself – rather than for your customers – you’ll fail to do what you should be doing.

Focusing on your customers’ needs.

Determine what the market actually desires and is prepared to pay for – then decide how you can deliver it.

Don’t Jump the Gun

Business is more a marathon than a sprint.

Take the time to research customer needs before bolting out of the gate.

Many entrepreneurs forego this critical process. They invest time and capital, but they’re so eager to launch that they fail to carefully consider potential problems.

And they end up out of the race altogether, thanks to a false start.

A “ready, fire, aim” approach seldom ends well.

Research by the Harvard Business School shows that over 30,000 new consumer products are launched each year –  but 95% of them fail. There’s a similar rate in B2B.

How do you avoid becoming a statistic and increase the likelihood of success?

Get A Firm Foothold

Your idea may be brilliant, but a full-scale development launch may not be.

By testing your concept in the market with an MVP – or “minimum value product”.

The MVP is a minimum scale – but viable – version of your product that will allow you to test out your idea, evaluate the market for it, and get valuable feedback from users to help you better understand their needs

An MVP could take the form of, for example, a limited-function online store, a “mini” landing page, an app with just two or three functions.

The point is – it will take minimal time (and money) to develop. But it will give real users – and therefore you – a chance to assess the viability of some of your product’s key functions.

And you’ll be off to a solid start.

Make the Price Right

It’s a conundrum for every business – particularly for start-ups.

How much should you charge?

Startups have to walk a fine line between profitability and the value they offer.

Pricing too low impacts cash flow. Pricing too high impacts conversions. How do you find the sweet spot?

The best way to determine how to price your product is by putting a price on it and seeing what happens.

Did you get lots of signups – suggesting you could raise the price? Or did nobody bite – suggesting you should lower your price?

If you can cover your company’s costs while simultaneously finding the happy medium between not too expensive and not too cheap – you’ve struck gold.

Share the wealth by offering savings solutions for your customers.

For example, software that is installed on-premise is typically cheaper than cloud solutions since they don’t have hosting infrastructure costs. One way to balance is to offer hybrid cloud storage software, which allows the user to decide how much to spend on storage.

Save Yourself by Outsourcing

As a startup, you want to conserve time and energy so you can concentrate on nurturing your business.

You can outsource a good portion of your non-essential business operations so you can focus on what’s important.

For example, the vast majority of B2B and B2C business is now conducted online – so that’s where your startup should be. Further, you can opt to outsource PEO services that give you access to the best HR practices and guidance. In fact, certain providers like TriNet’s PEO services for SMBs, even provide you the benefit of workers’ compensation insurance and specific payroll and employment-related taxes.

Apps can expand your reach and draw traffic.

But making an effective app can be challenging. Instead of struggling to get the results you want, use a mobile app maker that can help you drag and drop elements to build an app that’s customized for your business.

What about your email accounts? Managing multiple accounts can be cumbersome – but a desktop all-in-one email client can unify them in one central location. It’ll boost your productivity and save your sanity.

Be Credible

Establish your expertise

Much of your business success will depend on your reputation as an expert in your niche.

It bears repeating: content is king – so leverage content in the form of blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.  That will get your name and ideas in front of an audience, and help establish your credentials.

And be sure to highlight those credentials wherever possible. If you’re sending email outreaches to clients, for example, include your bylines on top media outlets like Entrepreneur or Forbes in your email signature template.

Your customers want to know they’ll get value for their money – and showing them you have expertise inspires confidence and builds trust.

In a sense, you and your customers are in the same boat: you’re taking a chance on each other.

It all comes back to business startup basics.

Listen to the market. Be open to customer needs. Be ready to adapt.

Most of all, show your customers that you’re ready, willing, and able to find solutions to their problems.

And they’ll repay you in customer loyalty.