Yesterday, I had an opportunity to be a guest speaker at a startup event. A lot of aspiring entrepreneurs asked us questions ranging from marketing, strategy to funding and growth.
There are few observations I made as I interacted with a number of startup founders. I would like to summarize these observations and key learnings here. I think you will find them useful and valuable to take your business forward.
1. Technology cannot replace bad marketing
Entrepreneurs these days focus too much on technology and media. Yet, these things aren’t substitutes of good marketing. No matter how good your site is. No matter how much money you have spent in SEO. No matter how great your products are, there is no replacement for good marketing. Get better at marketing and learn the ropes on a continuous basis.
2. Always, find a great market first - everything else next
I cannot emphasize this enough. Entrepreneurs often end up entering the wrong market, burn cash and realize it much later. There will always be people who are an excellent fit for your products/services and there will be people who will be poor fit for your products/services. If you can’t find a market of eager and willing customer ready to take out their wallets for what you sell, you will land up in trouble VERY QUICKLY.
3. Nobody cares about your fancy idea, solve a real problem
Nobody cares about the bright idea you had this morning in the bathroom. Everyone cares about the problem you can solve for them - TODAY. Right now. If you are passionate about your great idea and it doesn’t solve a real problem for anyone, do it as a hobby but not as a real business. A successful business solves a real problem for specific group of people.
4. Do not limit yourself to online or offline
I know this is an old story but it is quite surprising to see a lot of entrepreneurs sticking to online or offline. Some say, I am an online guy, I don’t sell offline. Others say, I am a retailer, I don’t sell online. Both are fatal mistakes. The new reality of market is - customers are everywhere and they expect you to be where they are. Click & mortar is not just a fancy terminology, it’s the need of the hour. That’s where the future is.
5. Don’t Try to be Everything to Everyone, Instead Become a Specialist & Expert
Don’t try to build a marketplace. FlipKart and SnapDeal aren’t sustainable unless you have an unlimited supply of plastic money. The real future will belong to those who are specialist and experts in their field. If you sell Sofas, become a Sofa expert. If you sell Bedsheets, become a the best Bedsheet advisor. Talk about things that the big dumb marketplaces won’t or can’t talk about. You have a huge leverage. Talk about quality, after sales service and the craftsmanship. Empower and educate your customers to choose the right product. Give honest and unbiased advice. You will not only attain an expert status but also earn the respect and trust of your customers. The value is in the relationship.
Ultimately, if you aren’t adopting your business to the constantly changing realities of the market, you are going experience a silent and gradual decline. Nothing is exclusive anymore. And nothing is permanent.
You have to constantly evolve, educate and always create a new future for your customers.
Only then, can you future proof your business.