Taking off

Taking off

Startups take off because the founders make them take off.

Generally, startups take a push to get them going. Once they are on the track, they will usually keep going, but there is a separate and robust process to get them on a roll.

@melodydnn84

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Nearly all startups have to recruit their users manually. You can't wait for users to come to you. You have to go out and get them.

  • At least one founder will have to spend a lot of time on sales and marketing. Don't succumb to shyness and laziness.
  • Even if numbers may seem small at first, don't underestimate the power of compound growth. 
  • At some point, growth has to slow down. If the market exists, you can gradually switch to less manual methods.

Almost all startups are vulnerable initially, like a newborn baby. It's harmless if know-it-alls dismiss your startup. Thinking "there's no way this tiny creature could even accomplish anything" is faulty thinking.

The danger is when you dismiss your startup yourself and fail to see the full potential of what you're building.

Happy users

You should take exceptional measures to make your users happy. Your first users should feel that signing up with you was one of the best choices they ever made. Then think of new ways to delight them. You can provide a level of service no big company can.

Your attention to your users should be insanely great, to the point of being obsessive. It is not only the product that should be that great but especially the experience of being your user.

For most successful startups, over-engaging with early users is a necessary part of the feedback loop. It helps to make the product great since your product will initially not be quite right and will improve with applying the feedback you get form your earliest users.

Focus on an intentionally narrow market. It's like keeping a fire contained at first to get it really hot before adding more logs.

  • Find out if there is a subset of the market in which you can get a critical mass of users quickly.
  • Build something for yourself and your friends, who will be the early adopters.
  • Among companies, the best early adopters are usually other startups. They are more open to new things because they haven't made all their choices yet. 
Assemble yourself

Hardware startups face a problem where they need a minimum order for a factory production run, but don't have the funds. Without a product, they can't generate the growth to raise the money to manufacture the product.

While crowdfunding, (pre-orders) can help a lot, it is advisable to assemble yourself if you can. The benefit is that you can tweak the design faster when you're the factory, and learn things you'd never have known otherwise.

The initial user can act as if they are consultants. Keep tweaking till you fit their needs perfectly, and you'll generally find you've made something other users want too.

A consulting-like technique for recruiting initially indifferent users is to use your software on their behalf. It will teach you firsthand how it would feel to merchants to use your product.

An extreme variant is where you are your software, where you do by hand things that you plan to automate later. It helps to build muscle memory from doing it yourself. It also lets you launch faster.

If you can find someone with a problem that needs solving and you can solve it manually, do that for as long as you can, then gradually automate where required.

  • The Big Launch seldom works. Most successful startups had small launches that are not memorable. Your success depends more on how happy you made your users than how many there were of them. Getting users are always a gradual process.
  • Partnerships with a big company seldom work. It is usually a lot of work, and you end up getting almost nothing out of it.
  • Don't just do something extraordinary initially. Make an extraordinary effort initially.
The two directions
Think of startup ideas as:
  1. What you're going to build
  2. The unscalable thing(s) you're going to do initially to get the company going.

Try to be imaginative about them and work hard on them.

Build something to solve your own problems, and then you only have to find your peers. Otherwise, you have to make a bigger effort to find the most promising vein of users.

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RELATED IDEAS

You don't get to be an astronaut by being wishy-washy. Most started thinking about a career in space very young, and worked hard to gain the skills necessary to realize their goal.

If you do not feel that you have that drive, it might help to give your goal a sense of purpose.

Why do you care about a new app or electronic device? To support your family? To make people's lives easier? To change the world?

5

IDEAS

  • Let them shine first. Let the candidate share a project they are proud of to have a sense of what excites them.
  • Then make them uncomfortable. Ask them about experiences or times when they were somehow out of control. 
  • Calibrate your results on how the interview went objectively, not subjectively.
  • Watch out for signs of coaching if a person start quoting things from articles or something from your company.

This motivation is especially visible on social media, when sharing an outraged review or Facebook post helps them define what they stand against, and by implication what they stand for.

People want to be part of the pack, and when they share, it is sometimes to either signal that they belong or help them find their tribe.

Many products can build tribal network effects. Sharing about these products helps to recruit, signal membership, or to defend their tribe - and thus themselves - from others.

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