Building a successful startup is an intensely passionate process. People have thousands of ideas for how to make their startup the next great success and how they will engage their customer base. Often people think they have “figured it out the secret sauce” and stay stealthy so as to avoid detection from other lurking entrepreneurs who might steal their secret to success. Often they stay so stealthy that when they launch their business, there aren’t any customers insight OR there is confusion for what the company is and what it offers! Thus the secret to successfully building a startups is to build the business WITH the customer or target audience.
The Secret to Building Successful Startups is to Develop the Business WITH the Customer Audience.
Think this is crazy? Think about the last time that someone asked you for advice, help on homework, or even your perspective and then took what you said and did something. You were probably very interested to see how that “Something” turned out, and probably even congratulated yourself on the inside for making that “something” so good! The fact is, people are more drawn in to support, spend time, and even pay for “something’s” that they feel they were personally involved in making…irregardless of ownership or equity.
This can be put into action within a startup by having the founders poll potential customers on their ideas and perspectives. Further finishing the poll with, “if I made incorporated or changed this, would you be interested in buying?” For when you take into account their insights and show customers the evolution of the startup’s solution, they will probably feel enough pride in it that they will in fact pay for it…assuming they can afford it. I have done this in nearly every one of my startups, admittedly by pure chance early on, and this helped me to gain customers who gained a sense of pride that was on equal par to my own.
Remain Constantly and Closely Connected with Your Customers to Allow Them to “Feel” Connected to Your Business’s Growth.
For instance I started a race media company called DigiRace, that tracked auto races by putting GPS on each car and broadcasting it back to a website. Early on I met up with several fans and race car drivers and pitched my bulky concept. They were pretty uninterested until I swallowed my ego and asked them what was wrong with my pitch or solution. They continued to tear apart my bulky solution and tell me everything that was wrong with it. Then I asked if I could meet with them again if I fixed it, the laughingly agreed.
Three months later I brought a revised version to them that took their constructive criticisms into account. They were shocked. Better yet they started joking with themselves how this was perfect and how smart they were for having the idea. (At this point I was shocked, for I thought they were going to hijack my idea.) What came next was even more shocking, they called up some fellow racers and even a racing association to brag how awesome the new solution was. These racers walked me into dozens of high-value connections and customers that would have taken me years to meet. Further they did so without any regard for being paid, simply because they felt deeply connected with their (my) racing solution.
So as you can see the secret to my Startup Success was engaging prospective customers early and often. Take their advice, or at least make it feel like you took their advice, so that you can get them to become customers and even advocates to more customers for your business. This act of cultivating the customer engagement will be the fuel and guidance for your businesses long-term success.As a serial entrepreneur, it has worked for me and I am sure it can work for you!