Getting the mix right
It’s not different from making a good brownie – you need to have the right ingredients in the right proportion and stirred well. These ingredients are not available off the store shelves though. Some of these seem obvious but most people get it wrong at some step.
1. Picking the right pain point that your product or service will address
Finding a real need helps instead of tertiary stuff which may be nice to have only on a rainy Sunday! Being too niche or too broad are both dangerous as you could be in a small potential market or you will be one of many in a crowded one. As some wise wag has said ‘your product or service has to either be essential or loved’. The very rare will have both. Hotmail in the early days of the internet addressed a basic human need to communicate with each other across the world and it was free. However starting another email service today is like building a better mousetrap. It’s well worth validating the problem area to be addressed with actual market testing. Nothing beats talking to actual customers to see if this is a real issue AND if someone is willing to pay for it, before you invest a dime in it.
2. Deciding and refining how you will address the problem
To adlib, there are a hundred ways to peel an onion. How uniquely and elegantly you solve the problem will determine much of your success. Being first mover has its advantages but as Kotler’s famous quote goes ‘the pioneers got killed by the Native Americans’. Being first is good but being the first with a great solution is even better as someone else has done the hard work of creating a market. Do you have IP that you can patent or any other tough entry barriers? If not, then you need to keep looking over your shoulder to stay ahead. If you are a Guns N’ Roses fan, you know the famous line about that from Cold November Rain. Staying ahead of competition constantly means keeping in touch with what’s out there as you don’t know where your competitor is coming from. Look at what Uber and Airbnb did to the taxi and hotel markets.
3. Finding the right team
Find people with the same goals as you and who have as much to lose or gain as you have. Then make sure you have complementary skills and experience so you won’t tread on each others toes. Assigning clear accountabilities to every one is essential! While it is great if every one is a whiz in their areas of expertise, great players don’t always make a great team. Look around the sports teams in your country and you will find live examples. The clichéd venture fund line is about funding ‘A class teams with B class ideas but not the other way around’. Being good at what you do is essential but being able to pull together is even more so. Large egos, unwillingness to pull their weight etc are all venture killers. Hiring other staff could still be a challenge for your startup but more on that in a later blog.
If you got these 3 sorted up front, you are well on your way to your entrepreneurial venture and potential success. More in the next blog in the series.
Do comment here so we know any of this makes sense to someone.