In this opinion piece, co-founder of Beautifinda (a company which connects women and beauty through technology and convenience) James McIntyre, discusses the five you can learn from his experience of launching a startup.
1. Where you start won’t be where you end up
Fortune.com reported the “top reason” that startups fail: “They make products no one wants.”
Hours reading, number crunching, excelling and power pointing may lead to a seemingly rock solid business case, commercial proposition and pretty looking pitch deck… but it all means nothing until your test this with people who will actually use your product.
For us this meant a complete pivot, we started in the fitness industry and ended up in beauty instead based on the reaction of our target audience to our initial concepts.
2. Build the vision and you’ll build the team
An idea is normally a good one when it is easily explained and easily understood. If an idea attracts people initially, it’s also the way you execute and keep executing. This starts to gain momentum, and staff, suppliers, partners and customers will be attracted to where you are heading and want to join you on the journey.
At Beautifinda we have been lucky to attract some great people and partners by having a clear purpose and problem we are looking to solve. This is around connecting freelance beauty professionals with clients, and helping them grow their businesses.
3. Help will come from surprising places
Who knew our kids babysitter was an expert in social media and could help us grow our brand in social channels?
Our local community has revealed some great talent once we figured out where to look, a great resource for us was the Bayside Community Hub Facebook page. At Beautifinda we have been lucky enough to work with some talented tech and marketing talent who all live within 5ks of our Bayside office location.
4. Investing in yourself is investing in your success
Whether it be learning to write code, design user experiences or attract consumers to your site, up-skilling yourself means greater control and cost efficiencies. A base knowledge of most things also helps enormously when bringing in contractors on specific projects.
General Assembly and Udemy provide great practical training on different design and digital skill sets. I personally learnt to code, design user experience and skilled up in latest growth hacking techniques quickly and at little cost.
“Bootstrapping” your business also gives you laser focus on costs and delivering revenue streams quickly. It’s a different ball game when you are using your own money……
5. Focus on your customers, not your competitors
If you focus on your competitors you will only end up replicating them.
We’ve treated new entrants as further validation we are on the right track, but we decided to put our focus on continuing to create value for our customers.
And finally, don’t let perfection get in the way of better! Better to execute something today and refine, and refine again, then plan and take no action. So If you have a big idea, think about how you can break this down to smaller deliverables that add value to your customers immediately.