Think about the last time you saw an innovative product scroll across your social media feed. Did it grab your attention because it could fill an unmet need? Could it improve your life in some small way, no matter how insignificant?
This is the mindset entrepreneurs and, more importantly, startups have to assume to succeed. The concept behind a startup in any industry is that a new product or service is just that: “new,” innovative and, frankly, a disruption. In fact, that is exactly what my co-founder and I did. We felt that current solutions in the clinical training space were antiquated, so we challenged the existing category by offering an innovative and more effective solution.
If you have an idea for a solution that you know will fill a need, you might be wondering how you can turn it into a business. Everyone is different, but after successfully founding my first startup, I’ve learned there are three things that can help jumpstart your startup business.
1. Build to be a solution.
My co-founder and I are frequently asked how we came up with our startup and how someone else can come up with a successful idea themselves. We simply solved a problem we faced as prehealth students struggling to obtain clinical training and experience.
Entrepreneurs often go wrong when they try to fill a need where there isn’t one. They have created a solution in search of a problem. You have likely heard the phrase, “Be a solution to someone’s problem.” This accurately reflects the mindset that one should have when approaching any business venture. As exciting and innovative as your idea might be, if it isn’t serving some need or alleviating a pain point for its intended audience, it likely won’t find much success.
Identifying this problem requires some research. Who are your potential customers, and what do they want now and in the future? Successful entrepreneurs know that before spending countless hours and wasting money on a product or service that will not answer someone’s problem, they gain insight into the market and where it is headed.
2. Understand your competition.
What sets your product or service apart from the competition? Do you know who your competitors are? Depending on the industry, your business could face hundreds if not thousands of competitors, making it all that much more difficult to stand out from the rest.
While it is important to understand the “who” in the market, it is even more important to know and develop a strategy that will be a competitive differentiator. With so many other businesses and products vying for consumers’ attention, it is vital to go the extra mile to ensure your product is discernible from the others.
To help your brand stand out, you must first understand your competition through research. Then, you can develop your marketing and branding strategy to control how consumers perceive your business. Even if they are not ready to purchase your products at first, they will remember it when they are ready to pull the trigger with proper branding.
As each industry faces more global competition than ever before, entrepreneurs must be prepared to use and maximize the value of social media in brand marketing, placement and positioning against its competition. You can see what customers and potential consumers are saying about your business, competition and, more importantly, the problems they are experiencing, which you can ultimately solve. Entrepreneurs must be innovators not only in the sense of developing products and services but also in how they market and brand their products to differentiate them from the competition. This is what helps ensure the growth and success of the business.
3. Live and breathe your product.
When launching a startup, your passion will determine your success or failure. My co-founder and I were passionate about pursuing careers in the medical field but faced difficulties finding opportunities to provide us with the required healthcare experience as prehealth students. We could only imagine how many countless other students faced this same problem. We understood the issue first hand and were passionate about building a solution.
The path of entrepreneurship is not always easy, and it is not for everyone. You must have a mindset of sticking with something for the long term, and passion plays a significant role. If you start a business with anything less than full commitment, you are more likely to give up and the business venture to fail.
For most entrepreneurs, what drives them is their “why.” Why did you begin down this path in the first place? Your “why” will spark your motivation to push beyond when the going gets tough. Entrepreneurs in any industry cannot be lukewarm when it comes to their products or services.
Depending on the industry or market in which you are looking to introduce your business, you will, of course, run into challenges, opinions and competition. However, these tips should lay the foundation to support an entrepreneur regardless of the industry, product or service.