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 can be easily avoided. 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. Let me give you 7 tips, that every startup founder should take.
1. Make sure your idea is unique or fresh
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 on 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 wether 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, but you have 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.
2. Keep it simple
Minimum viable product (or MVP for short) is the most simple 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 absolute unique and fantastic idea there’s always a risk that your startup project won’t catch. Spending a fortune on development is a unnecessary risk.
Second reason is that simple idea’s are a lot easier to put into life. Creating something unique means that there are a lot of question marks. Human mind’s abilities are limited so concentrating on more basic business model, more basic functionality, more basic processes let you avoid a lot of confusion. This allows easier communication and improves the chance of creating solid and understandable product.
Third reason is the ability to further develop the application using users feedback. This is so called ‘lean approach’ and we’ll get back to this one later on.
3. Make it look good
First impression is a key factor. Weather users browse the list of available apps in iTunes or enter websites they find on google, there is much better chance they will decide to use it if they find it looking nice. It’s not a surprise that we consume information better if they are served in more graphic way.
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 then great functionality hidden behind primitive UI.
4. Give something for free…
From 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.
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.
5. …but have a clear idea on how to monetize your business
And despite not counting on quick return of an investment, it’s important to have an clear idea on how the startup will make money in the future. Despite the obvious reasons it might also be a key 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. 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 how to turn popularity into dollars.
6. Measure and adapt
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?
You should act like a wild life observer. Sit with a binoculars and look 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 right services attached to your application you can follow every step your users make. Some of them even allow’s to record user visits and then play it back to know exactly 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.
7. Find right software company
Last but not least – the software needs to be made right. You can apply most of above only with experienced and business-focused vendor. Your application needs to be fast, reliable, good looking and secure, but that’s not the only important quality that 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 honest approach we always suggest our clients the best technologies and well-fitting solutions, because their success is our success too.