I suppose anyone that starts a business feels they have what it takes to make it a success.
And, while you may indeed possess the next big idea, it’s likely more important that you understand a thing or two about the dynamics of bringing any idea to a market.
Below are 5 attributes that business owner should consider and embrace as they plan to start or pivot their business in the direction of can’t miss success.
1) The owner is the customer
Understanding the characteristics, desires and behaviors of a narrowly defined target market is very hard work, but essential to your success. Every marketing book or expert will tell you this, but few can give you the magic tablet that allows you to go deeply in the psyche of your prospect.
You can acquire some measure of knowledge from various research techniques, but nothing beats living, breathing, and feeling the same things your prospects do. Some of the surest successes in history have come from founders who created a product or service to meet a personal need and discovered a business by virtue of doing so.
2) The market understands the offering
Some entrepreneurs dream of locking themselves in a padded room for a year or so and emerging with the world’s greatest innovation. Sounds romantic I know, but if your innovation simply solves an incredible problem people don’t yet know they have, you may wind up burning through the money before they get it.
Better to innovate around a proven market, borrow genius from an unrelated industry, or discover an unmet need in a mature market crying for a solution.
3) The market already spends money here
Sometimes marketers shy away from competition. If market research shows that there’s too much competition in a given area or industry, the thinking is that the market is saturated and there’s probably no room for your start-up there.
To that I say nonsense. While it may be true that your neighborhood couldn’t possibly stand another coffee shop, I’ve found the success of several businesses in an industry, even in the same direct community, can spell opportunity.
If people are already spending money on a product or service then two-thirds of your work is done. They understand and value the offering enough to whip out their wallets. All that’s left for you to do now is show them how much better you can make the experience. Few businesses really provide great service. In fact, stealing market share in mature markets is one of the easiest paths for smart start-ups to run.
4) It’s an innovation that simplifies
Much of this article has focused on entering proven markets. While that’s absolutely the advice I’m giving here, know that you must do so with a significant point of differentiation that market easily understands and appreciates. In most cases this can be done by looking at the way most folks in the chosen market operate and find a way to simplify your offerings around breaking the mold.
For example, if people in your service business operate by proposal and bid, come up with a fixed price. If the traditional operating method is custom work, come up with a series of pre-packaged offerings that meet most people’s needs without the custom hassle.
There’s a popular pizza restaurant in Berkeley California that has one unique pizza on the menu each day. They make it up in big batches and serve thousands a day at $20 per pie.
5) Nothing is precious
Here’s the one that can snag small business founders. If you’re in love with your bright shiny baby start-up and all that it offers, you may become blind to the reality the market suggests.
Keeping an open mind and a willingness to discover what the market really wants and adapt accordingly is one of the core advantages of your smallness – remember to use it.
Talk to your customers, talk to your competitors, talk to your employees and remember nothing is precious but what the numbers prove to be so.