The article is contributed by Mugdha Pradhan - CEO and Founder of iTHRIVE.
In the contemporary world, the term “startup” is glamorized to another extent. Every person wants to become an entrepreneur without fully understanding what it means to start a business. Individuals look at entrepreneurship with rosy colored glasses and think of it as a medium to become an authority, rich and live life on their own terms. These outcomes are very much possible; however, it takes a lot of hard work to attain such freedom. One has to work without money for long hours before they can enjoy the empire. One has to convince people to use their product before building brand loyalty.
So now the question arises what is the right way to become an entrepreneur and grow your business. Following are a few smart strategies to grow and sustain your startup.
Solve a Problem
It is important that one builds a product or a service that is genuinely going to solve a problem area. A very great way is to solve a problem that is close to you. When you do that, you'll be able to convince the masses to use your product/service, and it will be more difficult for you to give up on it as it truly was helpful to you.
Choose Teammates Carefully
One cannot build a business alone. You will need a strong foundational team who believes in your vision as much as you, if not more. This team will become a brand ambassador for your venture in the initial days. Look for partners that complement your skills and get help whenever necessary.
Plan for Failure
Failure upon starting something new is inevitable, and it is important that one is prepared for that in order to adapt to the situation and learn quickly in such a scenario. It is also important to have Business Continuity Strategies in place by understanding potential hindrances in your business.
When building something big, it's naive to think that you'll be able to do everything by yourself. Everybody has their limitations. Hence other than building your core team as advised in point number 2, it's imperative to utilize your network and resources to their utmost potential. The key is to work smart and not hard.
Find a Mentor
One of the most cliche pieces of advice and yet often overlooked, a mentor can quickly take your career and business to new heights. More than a mentor, an advisory board is preferred. These advisors will not only know how to build a brand that lasts, but they will be your cheerleaders when the journey gets tough. Their advice will not only be optimistic but rather practical because they have experienced failure and difficulties in their journey too.
Minimum Viable Product
It might be tempting to add multiple features/ products/ services at the time of your launch, however, keeping things simple often is the best approach. Minimum viable products work best as they allow you to get feedback from actual target users rather than you perfecting and solving imaginary problems even before launching.
Test Your Product/Service
A business is only for its customers. Don't solve a problem or give out services that are not asked for. It might be surprising, but many can get ahead of themselves and try to launch a product that is not needed in the present. So before going all out, ask for feedback from potential targeted audiences to understand the viability of your product/ service.
A lot of us are reading the same books and following the same advice from traditional leaders. However, we need to follow the current trends and use a platform where most people are active. Such platforms can be Twitter, Reddit, Quora, Instagram, or even clubhouse. Remember, your product has to reach the audience before the audience can reach your product.
There is a common misconception that customers are attracted to good products, and hence one should focus on perfecting their product/service, and word of mouth is the only marketing one will need. While word of mouth is still one of the strongest marketing ways, marketing and PR have become quite necessary in a world where products are in abundance. PR strategies like garnering coverage in a digital or physical newspaper or a magazine can be very effective in increasing the reachability of your business.
SEO consistently is becoming important in the contemporary world of startups. Aiming to use appropriate SEO when posting digitally helps a long way in broadcasting your name in organic sales.
Strong Sales Funnel
While marketing and SEO can increase your organic sales, reaching out constantly to your customer base and getting leads is important. A strong sales funnel, and sales target will help you create a plan to grow your company at a steady rate.
Create a Blue Ocean in Your Market
The term "blue ocean" was coined in the entrepreneurship industry in 2005 to define a new industry with hardly any competition or barriers in the way of innovators. When a new or unknown sector or innovation appears, it creates a vast "empty ocean" of business options and opportunities. Hence try to create a blue ocean in your market and solve a problem that no one is solving.
Apart from these tips, remember to keep trying new things in your entrepreneurial journey. All of the above-mentioned strategies were once a breakthrough idea in the startup world as well, so keep on learning and inventing; moreover, defining your "why" will keep you in the game even when the road gets tough. I hope these strategies help you during your venture.