How to minimize the risk and focus on what matters the most for your startup? Let me give you 7 tips that every startup founder should take.
They say that 9 out of 10 startups fail. I believe it does not always need to be like this. There are certain problems that we can easily avoid. Experience in both software and business allows to minimize the risk and focus on things that matter the most in terms of fresh software project success.
This one is as simple as it sounds. Building another website that helps you to find the cheapest flight tickets is most likely shooting yourself in the foot. With hundreds of similar projects already out there, well funded and already having users on their side it’s almost impossible to compete.
Good startup either responds to needs that weren’t already addressed or react to changes happening in society, giving it’s users new ways to express themselves online. Being first of a kind is a huge advantage. Proper research, whether nobody else already did what we’ve just invented is a must.
One exception from this rule is when you decide to create a service that already exists on the market. Still, you have an absolutely fresh and unique way of providing it. Google is a good example – making a web search engine to compete with AltaVista or Yahoo would be impossible if they didn’t invent unique ranking algorithms.
Minimum viable product (or MVP for short) is the purest version of an app that you can build. To increase your chance of success, you should strip absolutely every functionality that is not essential to use the application in the most basic way. Why? There are at least three good reasons.
First and most important is that despite following every good practice and having an absolutely unique and fantastic idea, there’s always a risk that your startup project won’t catch. Spending a fortune on development is an unnecessary risk.
The second reason is that simple ideas are a lot easier to put into life. Creating something unique means that there are many question marks. Human mind’s abilities are limited, so concentrating on a more basic business model, functionality and processes let you avoid much confusion. This allows easier communication and improves the chance of creating a solid and understandable product.
The third reason is the ability to develop the application further using users feedback. This is so-called ‘lean approach’, and we’ll get back to this one later on.
The first impression is a crucial factor. Whether users browse the list of available apps in iTunes or enter websites they find on Google, there is a much better chance they will decide to use it if they find it looking beautiful. It’s not a surprise that we consume information better if they are served more graphically.
Focusing on functionality instead of application looks is a popular mistake. Good application design can convince users that the app is what they’re looking for better than great functionality hidden behind primitive UI.
From a business perspective, the most popular mistake would be to think about money the app should earn first. Users that don’t know the application are far from paying for it before they get to know it’s potential.
A great practice is to give user a way of using the basic functionality of an app for free. Remember that at the early stage building a userbase is far more important than earning money. The idea is to make users addicted to your service, making them understand they need it, that it’s useful for them.
And despite not counting on the quick return of an investment, it’s crucial to have a clear idea on how the startup will make money in the future. Despite the obvious reasons, it might also be a critical factor in obtaining additional funding from investors. Of course, they only invest in project they see potential to make money on.
Not having a good idea of how to monetize the app might be a problem especially when it will become a success. A good example here is Snapchat. One of the most popular services on the Internet is losing a lot of money right now not having an idea of how to turn popularity into dollars.
The ‘lean approach’ that I’ve mentioned before is a key factor for startup success. Making the MVP app as thin as it can be, means that there is a lot more to add to it when it goes public. But what features should be implemented first?
Act like a wildlife observer. Sit with binoculars and look at how users interact with an app, what problems they encounter, which improvements might be useful for them.
Analytic tools are really useful these days. With the right services attached to your application, you can follow every step your users make. Some of them even allow to record user visits and then play it back to know who they are and what they need. They’re usually available for free and the benefits are huge. Not being blind means that you can learn, adapt and succeed.
Last but not least – the software needs to be made right. You can apply most of above only with an experienced and business-focused vendor. Your application needs to be fast, reliable, good looking and secure. However, that’s not the only important value that a software company can give you.
With over 100 projects did so far (including many startups) Gorrion can help not only to create a great product but also to guide in terms of business and marketing. With an honest approach, we always suggest our clients the best technologies and well-fitting solutions, because their success is our success too.
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