With the rise of technology and the abundance of startup success stories out there, it seems that many are jumping out of the 9-to-5 bandwagon and hopping on the startup train. According to a study, entrepreneurship in the States alone has already overshot that of the dot-com era.
However, it’s important to remember that starting a business is no walk in the park – more fail than succeed. No matter the credibility of the creator, in today’s competitive landscape, your billion-dollar idea might still end up balancing on a tightrope or ultimately, fail.
If you’re an entrepreneur or aspiring to be one, here are four lessons you can learn and apply them to guide your startup journey towards the ten percent path of success.
1. Don’t be fixated on selling, start building contacts
Many entrepreneurs miss the bigger picture when it comes to the execution of their idea. Sure, you might have the most innovative idea. But with the only aim of hitting that sales target, you surely are headed for a giant leap of faith.
You should instead focus on evangelising and marketing your value in the industry. Founders, especially, need to make sure they are “talking up the company to everyone they meet” and form a network of useful contacts. These are people who may potentially be your future business partners, investors or even just mentors to turn to for valuable advice that’ll bring your business forward.
2. Always listen and test
Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons for entrepreneurs is to always listen to the needs of your customers. Whether it is ride-sharing, fintech, or e-commerce, needs will change over time. As such, it’s even more essential to test your product consistently and see how your target market responds to your unique value proposition and solution.
If you think this is time-consuming and expensive for little or no return, imagine spending 10 to 100 times that amount to develop a product nobody wants to buy. Hence, from early on, you should routinely test the waters with your customers and let them drive your product development and marketing strategy.
3. Be part of the community
Building a startup all by yourself is tough. But we’re lucky because in most countries today, there are communities of like-minded people to connect with. As an entrepreneur, you’ll need this. Often, these communities provide you with fresh perspectives, constructive feedback, or even spot a critical problem you never noticed before.
So instead of viewing people in the community as competition, they could be well seen as social capital. Watch out for relevant events or Facebook groups and join them. Being well-connected in the community will definitely leverage you against your competitors that do not see the value.
4. Exposure through exhibitions
Coming in highly compatible for the previous points, one way to nail all of them on the bull’s eye is through startup exhibitions. In-person events like this have been rated the most effective marketing tactic for the last six years, and in many cases, a fortunate stroke of serendipity may come to you at these offline events.
Apart from gaining valuable and tangible insights from the massive community at once, you’ll also have the rare face-to-face opportunity to pitch your product to them. This may be an expensive and risky approach for some, but if you play the game right, you’ll eventually be able to see and reap the benefits in the long run.
All in one package
Take the above pointers into your account, and your startup could do so much more than “just surviving”. If you’re searching for an avenue to apply all of that, Tech in Asia Tokyo 2017 is now accepting applications for Bootstrap Alley! So long as your startup has a working prototype and raised less than USD 3 million of external funds, you are eligible.
What’s more, sign up for a booth before July 7, and you get to shave 25 percent off your booth package!
Each startup exhibition package costs USD397 before discount (USD297.75 post-discount) and comes with a 1-day booth, and two exhibitor passes. You’re also entitled to register for Startup-Investor Speed Dating, where you can pitch directly to investors of your choice!
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