Over the past five weeks of Startup 101, enthusiastic aspiring founders have been taught the basics by “been there, done that” business owners – what needs to take place and be completed at the very beginning stages of the entrepreneurial journey, such as building the business model canvas, undertaking market research and physical development of the product. If you’re an entrepreneur who reaches this milestone, it’s a major achievement – your technology has progressed from an interesting concept to being a promising commercial opportunity. The challenge now becomes how to sell your product and create a sustainable revenue stream, so that you can further develop and expand your product offerings, build your infrastructure, repay investors – and ultimately, pay yourself. Many startups can find themselves stuck at this stage because they haven’t quite figured out a scalable way to go to market. Last night, Fuller Industrial President and serial entrepreneur Jeff Fuller hit the Startup 101 stage to deliver his insight and expertise on how to put together an effective go-to-market strategy. Jeff’s lecture featured his three “North Star” guiding principles – return on investment, enterprise value and free cash flow – that all founders need to stick to, but he also provided other valuable – yet often overlooked – tips for budding entrepreneurs to consider:
- You need to be passionate about and possess a true belief in the product you have developed. If you don’t, how can you say with certainty and confidence that your product or solution will help or benefit anyone else?
- Consider a partnership. Often, startup founders are tech professionals, not salespeople or marketing specialists. Taking on a partner who is not only passionate and willing to put time in, but whom also brings additional expertise to the table that compliments your skill set, can be beneficial and allow you to broaden the scope of your business, expand more dynamically and help spread the workload.
- Out-listen the competition. It might seem like every good idea has already been done, and this is true – don’t waste your time reinventing a product that’s already proven to be successful. However, just because something is already being done, does not mean it is being done well. If you can’t do something new – do something that’s already being done, but do it better. Know your competition and become an expert in your field. Steve Jobs didn’t invent the computer or cell phone – but he did make them a heck of a lot better.
Getting into the market is one of the toughest things for a startup to do. It is the distinguishing factor, and separates the companies that fail from those that will be successful. For more valuable takeaways relating to the start up journey, register for Startup 101, the Innovation Mill’s free 25 week program that provides practical, relevant and hands-on knowledge for those interested in starting their own business. The course features 25 lectures and runs on Wednesday evenings from 6:00pm- 7:00pm at the NORCAT Centre.