No one ever said the entrepreneurship route was easy. You may still be in the early stages of planning your startup, working towards securing funding or ready to get your new company launched. Before you make another move, reflect on the three steps laid out by Jeff Kohl, area manager of BBSI’s Las Vegas branch, on how to create a system that will succeed.
- Research – Before you start to create a vision in your head, talk to experts already in the field who can address concerns and challenges. Kohl asks, “What can they tell you that will get you one step closer to a successful idea?”
But, don’t just take their word for it. Kohl encourages doing some digging on your own, “You need to find the answers to the questions: What does the current industry look like? Who is in the business? Who is your competition? How successful is this industry? Not only, how is the industry perceived, but how would you want to be perceived?”
If you don’t have the entrepreneurial blood pumping through your veins, knowing what landscape you are stepping into at the beginning will help keep you from growing frustrated down the road. “Some people are naturally made to be an entrepreneur because they don’t mind being the first one to work, and last one to leave the office at the end of the day. They don’t mind being the last one to be paid or being the only one that can fix a problem. These types of people thrive on being exhausted at the end of the day and getting up the next day and doing it again,” says Kohl.
- Experiment – Kohl encourages some outside feedback, through a focus group or opinion panel. “It may be hard to hear tough criticism, but this is the best way to improve your idea. Make sure you go beyond friends and family, because likely they are going to think you have awesome ideas no matter what!”
If you have an actual product, find out where you can create a test market to see if it sells. “When you first take a product to market, you are going to be asked questions you hadn’t thought about, and you are going to see what the demand is like,” explains Kohl.
If you are creating a service company, what can you do set yourself apart from the competition? Kohl loves telling the story of a cleaning company that was trying to get started and they would go around to doctor’s offices weekly bringing them cookies to stay top of mind. Finally, the doctor’s offices started to hire them, and their business took off. Cookies for cleaning – it was a simple thing that made them stand out from their competition. It gave the brand the edge they needed to get started.
- Disrupt – Finally, Kohl encourages one last look around at your competition to nail down how you are different. “Don’t be afraid to be a disrupter, that is the sole way you can set yourself apart from your competition. Demand that you aren’t going to be like everyone else. How can you be the Uber of your industry?”
GoPro is an example of a company that produced a similar product to ones that were already on the market, but, how they marketed set them apart. They began uploading user-submitted videos in 2013 to their YouTube channel, and by 2014, the channel was receiving more than 600 submissions daily. Sales increased 200 percent from the previous year, generating more than $234.2 million in revenue. They did something just a little bit differently than the competition.
If you can’t figure out what you can do differently, that may mean hiring someone that can help create a unique hook. “I’ve found time and time again that someone who has been fired from a corporate job for being unruly or insubordinate is just the person you need on your startup team to take creativity to the next level,” explains Kohl. “They will think outside the box.”