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10 Things I Wish I Knew
- Don’t create new products, solve problems. People’s money goes to things that solve their immediate issues and concerns. Critically think about where humans have issues on a day-to-day basis and go there for your new product or service. People will pay you to do that which they won’t do themselves.
- Forget about being an overnight success. It’s a repeat but bears being repeated. Plan for your project to take twice as long and cost twice as much. Chances are you won’t be disappointed.
- Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Most of us love doing what we are good at. And believe me, losing money doing something that you hate is a recipe for disaster.
- Get the right team around you. Another repeat: none of us know as much as all of us. 29% of startups fail to succeed because they had the wrong team in place. Get the right people early to assure your success.
- If you are going to fail, fail quickly. This could more appropriately be entitled Fail Fast, Fail Cheap. There is no reason to test a long and protracted experiment when a quick test could prove the efficacy of your idea. Get your prototype in place and tested on a trusted group of people. Their response can give you the impetus to carry on – or not.
- Understand your value proposition. Your value proposition is what makes your product or service meaningful to your customer. It’s not enough to know all the features of your particular solution. The customer probably doesn’t care if it’s blue, hot, or remote controlled, as long as the benefit to them is crystal clear. Guy Kawasaki, world-renowned entrepreneur says it best, “If you go out to make money, you might,. If you go out to make meaning and do you will make money.
- Know your customer. Two trains of thought here. One, you need the characteristics of your ideal customer in order to develop your product or service. That really goes without saying. But more importantly is, knowing your customer by name, favorite drink, menu item, or their pet. In small communities, the intimate knowledge of who you’re serving is absolutely critical. It’s that personal effect that will differentiate you from the pack.
- Not every customer is right for you. Unless you’ve got the best thing since sliced bread or the improved mousetrap, you’ll soon find that your market demographic is limited. Smart business people and really smart entrepreneurs understand how to stay in their channel. You simply cannot be all things to all people.
- Learn from the mistakes of others. Place yourself in a learning mode at all times. If you see things that bother you about the ways other people run their business, make a note to file and don’t do them. Constantly evaluate other business practices. Emulate the good, avoid the bad, and never quit learning.
- No sales, no business. Sales are like oxygen, and without them, businesses die. While it’s fun to chase the new and be creative when the day is done you have to do that which makes money for your business. Never forget the rule, first things first.