In the startup world every new player dreams of becoming the next unicorn success story. But the chances of hitting that level are slim, as there are several thousand failed startups for every unicorn.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. You have to have big goals. The ones that did reach unicorn status sure didn’t doubt themselves. So what did they do different and what can you learn from them and apply to your own startup?
There is no top secret formula. It takes a great idea, amazing team, and flawless execution. Here are the basics that you need to pay attention to.
Make Sure You Solve a Real Problem
Why was Uber such a massive hit?
Because it solved a real problem. It provided a solution for a wide range of people. For some Uber is a convenient way to get form point A to point B without having to own a car and take on that expense. For some it’s a convenient way to go out at night and not have to worry about driving.
They didn’t just assume there was a problem. They knew what they had was the solution to problems. The ens users loved it because of its convenience. There was no doubt as to its application.
You don’t have to come up with “…the Uber of…” to be successful, but you do need to make sure your product or service solves a problem.
Build Something Simple to Use
People like simplicity. I’m going to go back to Uber for a minute. You download the app, set up your account, and request a ride. You enter your destination, click confirm and your ride shows up and you get to where you need to go. It couldn’t be any easier to use.
It doesn’t matter if you are launching an app, a SaaS, or an online e-commerce store – you need to build it with simplicity in mind.
Look at the Whohou marketplace for example. It’s simple to navigate and you are able to get to the category or categories you want with a single click. If it was made too complex it would push users away.
Focus on User Acquisition
For a startup to reach unicorn status they must snowball their user acquisition. The insane valuations we often see are based on users. That is where the true value it. Too many startups worry about small details and perfecting their product before they even know if it will take off.
Some of the most successful startups launched before they were 100% ready and focused on user growth simply to prove there was a demand. From there they then fine tuned their product, fueled by actual user feedback.
You will end up with a much better product if you take real feedback into consideration. Don’t assume you know what the end user wants. Let them tell you.
Don’t Dilute Yourself Thin
Rather than give up more equity for funding consider bootstrapping. While it requires more work, it also ensures you are left with a sizable piece of your own company. I see too many founders act recklessly with funds and they go to $0 quickly. The only way to survive it to take on more funding and dilute themselves.
Taking a round or two is fine, and most unicorns do, but make sure you leave yourself with enough skin in the company that will reward your hard work in the event you exit via a sale or acquisition.
Understand the True Odds
The odds are stacked against you, and if you understand this you will stand a much better chance of building a viable and successful company. Not every startup is going to have a billion dollar valuation.
But, you can still create something epic and be successful without that unicorn designation. Understanding this and being fine with it plays a major role.
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