When you decide to start your Internet business, you know you're going into an adventure that's fraught with pitfalls. It's hard but it's also fascinating and motivating. This article is the first in a series of 7 in which I'll try to share with you some of the traps we fell in launching our marketplace and few tips to avoid them.
You don't want to to cripple yourself even before launching your business, do you ? Put your ideas to the test!
You like your idea. Otherwise you wouldn't dare sharing it with your friends and your family. But the truth is, because they matter that much to you, they will probably be supportive (at the beginning at least),
"So, how is your business doing?! Is it growing?!" - Each of your relatives
Between us, it can be really exhausting in the end...
Know for sure that they won't be the one that bring home the beacon. They could spread the word but they will not help you asking yourself the good questions. The one that make the difference between success and failure. And, at the end, if you fail, you will be the only one to blame !
You should definitely attend events, meet new people and talk about your business idea to assess your vision. Do not fear to expose your idea ! See how people react, listen what they think about it. It's the best way to check if you can attract them and those little talks will help you to keep improving your pitch !
Do you plan to have a great product or service ? Plan an awesome sales strategy!
When we began Sharinplace, since our idea seemed awesome, we thought making some advertising through social networks, would be enough... Do not make the same naive mistake ! In other words, do not think that good products sell themselves! It's one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs do . We had great ambitions for our marketplace and our product eventually met them. But we underestimated the distribution question and finding new customers is still a struggle despite great customer satisfaction. We did not build our product with a real distribution plan, and that is not a mistake you can recover easily from.
"Great Idea ! How do you make it known ?"
"We use social networks and we have a nice blog"
"Cool ! Is it Working ?"
"Not that much... But you could help us spread the word :)"
Putting yourself back on the right track is a long way ! Especially when you're not a genius storyteller (Seth's Blog: Ode: How to tell a great story) ! But the ultimate secret is to be authentic and to tell something only you can tell. Doing so, you will catch people attention.
Do you want to stack all the odds in your favor ? Think about your idea like crazy!
Here is an advice we would have liked to receive before launching. Try to answer Peters' Thiel 7 questions, worth meditating on:
The Engineering Question: Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvement ?
The Timing Question: Is now the right time to start this particular business? Think about Microsoft fail (Microsoft Invented A Tablet A Decade Before Apple And Totally Blew It) to launch a tablet 10 years before Apple. Bill Gates himself said this fail was due to bad timing (Bill Gates: Here's Why The iPad Was A Success And...) .
The Monopoly Question: Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
The Distribution Question: Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
For those two questions think about Facebook (easy one).
Facebook started in one American campus and then spread in all American campus before getting in all homes.
The People Question: Do you have the right team?
Your team is a sum of skills essential to your business. Choose the right people: skilled, motivated and credible.
"A few key people make all the difference in any company — no matter how big or small” — Mark Suster
The Durability Question: Will your market position be defensible 10 or 20 years into the future? IBM (Watson, Big blue, DIX INVENTIONS D'IBM QUI ONT CHANGÉ LE MONDE)
The Secret Question: Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don't see?
Tesla did, taking into account fashion awareness of its customers when launching it's electrical vehicle to please famous people who wanted to look cool and green (Does "Blood Diamonds" ring a bell ?).
You don't have to excel at the 7 questions to succeed. If your answer to 5 or 6 of them, it could be enough. But if you score only 2 or 3 of them, well... you have serious reasons to worry about your current idea.
Clean slate ?
Next from this series: Building your marketplace is hard, see how we tried: The audience