To build a successful business you need to start your start-up at the very bottom and construct it slowly and with the customer as your driving force.
Build Your Start-Up Brick By Brick
The ‘pile ‘em high and sell ’em cheap’ model of business has had its day. This may have worked for a brief time and it may have got customers through the door, but the approach isn’t a long term way of doing things, and it isn’t the way to build a successful business with longevity. This worn out way of simply shoving piles of product in front of customers has a very short life span. So, what do you do if you want to make your business last in the long term? You start slow and you build it brick by brick. And crucially, you do this by following the needs of customers.
Start at the very beginning
Successful start-ups begin their life with the customer. You should see your business as a response to customers’ needs rather than your burning desire to make and sell your product. Yes, you need passion for your product, but take your passion for your product or service and first look at what customers want from this. What is missing in existing products on the market? Why are customers unsatisfied? From here you can offer something that solves their problems and makes you different, but not just different based on your own ideas, different based on customer needs.
It’s ok to make mistakes
Customers are unpredictable and in the early life of your business you are going to get it wrong sometimes. That’s why you need to view your customer development as a learning experience. As your customers drive your business it’s ok to mess up as long as you learn from it and get it right next time. Unlike product development where stalling is seen as failing, in customer development it is a process of trial and error, and leaning form those errors. This is progress.
Learn and repeat
This may seem radical, but you need to view repeating some steps of your development as positive experiences. Customer validation is the way you’ll find out if you have a product people want. If this step doesn’t work out and you don’t find the customers you’d hoped for, you go back a step to customer discovery and re-work. This isn’t to be seen as going backwards, but rather as a valuable process. Each step has to be performed with the customer at the centre and if it isn’t working with customers as integral parts, you go back to make sure it will.
Time well spent
The overall message is not to rush to get your product out there, but to make sure when you do launch your product there will be people to buy it. Consider also, at what a low expense all this customer centric work is being performed, and if you get this groundwork right, you’ll also be saving on costs when you do launch, as you already know your customers are there. There’s no point in ploughing cash into building a business before you know you have a business worth building.