Do you have an idea for a mobile app, software application or SaaS platform that will revolutionize your industry? Before jumping in it’s important to ask, do you know the reasons why many startups fail?
If you are like me, you get excited about an innovative idea to the point that you have trouble sleeping. You start investing a great deal of time jotting down ideas, sketching diagrams and crafting vision statements. You hunt for that perfect domain name before anybody else takes it. You float the idea to other industry experts whom you trust. You try really hard to play it cool, but the truth remains:
Exhilaration blinds us to the dangers ahead!
To help you navigate these dangers, this article lays out the following:
- 6 beliefs that could sabotage your software launch
- 6 important actions that will promote a successful launch
This article is for YOU if the following are true:
- You are an expert in your industry.
- You’re aware of most of the challenges in your industry.
- You have an idea for a solution that will address 1 or more of these challenges.
- You spend your nights and weekends working on your idea.
There’s nothing like the energy you feel when an “entrepreneurial seizure” (this term was coined by Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth) takes over your mind and heart as you pursue your own idea for a product that promises to solve a real-world problem. You believe you can make a real difference in the world and deserve to make a lot of money doing it!
Why do startups fail?
Throwing your time and money into the wrong idea (or into the right idea in the wrong way) will ultimately lead to failure.
Before you build your idea, here are 6 beliefs that could sabotage your success and 6 actions that you can take to counter them:
- My future customers will see the problem the way I see it.
Solving a problem you see is not nearly as profitable as solving a problem your customers feel. Instead, validate your observations in the marketplace through surveys and listening. As CEO of your own startup, your number one job now and forevermore is to listen to your customers. Find them before you start building, and make sure that you are solving their pain. If you are not solving their pain, your application may be the next to join the Startup Cemetery.
- My future customers will want my solution.
Getting attention, interest, and money will be an uphill battle if the marketplace disagrees with your solution’s ability to solve their problem or fulfill their desire. Instead, run your solution by multiple people it promises to help. It may be a good idea in theory, but when it comes time to open their wallets, your customers may not feel the worth of your solution. If they are not willing to pay, then you should think twice before investing more time and money into it, at least until you have identified a solution they will be delighted to purchase.
- Nobody out there is doing this.
There is almost certainly someone out there trying to solve the same problem. Instead of making assumptions, search the Internet until you find your three biggest competitors who are trying to solve the same problem in the same or different ways.
- Catalog their features and what they tout as their strengths.
- Search online forums to see what their customers complain about repeatedly. (Ignore the trolls!)
- Make a list of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Decide now what will set your solution apart from your competition.
- I will save money if I get it right the first time.
Perfectionism can be more expensive than failure, especially when it causes us to miss out on opportunities. Instead, remember that behind every good product is a history of failures that moved the product forward. Get your product out there quickly where people can respond with vital feedback, and ensure your development team and processes are set up for rapid changes and delivery. You will save the most money by listening to your customers, responding with change, and allowing them to respond with affirmation, rejection, and new ideas.
- After I announce the first release, customers will take notice and buy.
The research you did finding the right problem and building the right solution should already produce some pretty excited first customers. After all, you are solving their problem! But what happens when you run out of first customers? Instead of hoping for more sales, create a marketing plan that includes a nurture funnel educating your target market and leading them down the path to your payment confirmation page or invoice. Control their experience from start to finish on paper first, and then with digital tools. If you do not control the process, they will not feel led to make the purchase.
- I could launch this a whole lot faster if I quit my day job.
Before taking a leap on this sure-fire bet, you should create two sets of income projections, called “pro forma income statements.” The first pro forma should project what the coming months will look like if you stay, and the other if you take the leap. This will help you analyze your projected income versus expenses over the coming months in both scenarios. Let math decide so that you do not jump too soon and potentially sabotage your chance for success by having to go back. This could significantly push back your launch date while you regroup. Trust me on this!
So, there you have it! Throwing time and money at the wrong problem or solution is not only wasteful, but also keeps your target customers from receiving the solution they really need. Instead, do the following:
- Verify with your target customers that they really feel this is a problem they would pay money to solve.
- Verify with your target customers before you build a solution that they really will pay money for it.
- Know who is already out there trying to solve this problem for your target customers and why those solutions are not right for them.
- Get the simplest version of your solution in front of customers as early as possible to get their feedback.
- Create an effective plan to reach, nurture and lead as many target customers as possible prior to launch.
- Create a clear projection of your profitability before, during, and after launch, and let math guide you to make the best decision.
I hope you found this helpful. Do these six things and you will be on the right track with your startup.