If you’re struggling with your tech startup, these tips will put you right on track. And if you’re already doing well, they’ll knock it out of the park! They say success leaves patterns, and these ten tips haven’t been arbitrarily chosen. They’re carefully collected from what has worked and is working for some of the best tech businesses out there today. So without further ado…
- Get feedback early from honest friends
“Get five or six of your smartest friends in a room and ask them to rate your idea.” – Mark Pincus, Zynga CEO
It’s never too early to get feedback about your idea. And the earlier you start, the more deeply it will become your entrepreneurial lifelong habit. One of the healthiest habits you can adopt! So right from the idea’s inception, get together people who will be straight with you even if it hurts your feelings (so not just your mum) and start finding out what they think about your concept.
- Don’t wait to start marketing
Do not wait until you have some perfect, completed product all ready before you start spreading the word. Start telling your story early. Start getting incomplete beta versions out as quickly as possible. You’ll only learn if your idea is good or not once you start getting it out there, and every idea needs tweaking. The sooner you market, the sooner you’ll know what to tweak.
- Listen to your unhappy customers
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder
Don’t just listen to the people saying how great it all is. This is one situation in life where you should listen to the negative nancies. Is there truth in their words? Are they revealing a major unthought-of hole in your product?
- Use simple words
In everything you do, from website to adverts and blog posts, use simple, crystal-clear language. Just tell people what it does and why they should use it. Don’t use general words like ‘cutting edge’ and other clichés. And no jargon either. Talk as though you were explaining it to a ten year old.
- Create a short, clear video
This is one of the most powerful things you can do to market your app. Make a short video that says it all in 1, 2 or 3 minutes. Put it on your homepage and in your press kit. Send it to everyone who asks about your product. Give a demo in the video, leaving no doubt as to what your product does. Your video can be low budget, don’t worry. Here are a few excellent examples:
- Shoestring it as much as possible
“Stay self-funded as long as possible.” – Garrett Camp, founder of Expa, Uber and StumbleUpon
As super-successful tech startup entrepreneur Garrett Camp puts it, don’t be tempted to spend money early when there’s an alternative. Why? I think it’s best put by O’Reilly Media founder and CEO Tim O’Reilly: “Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations.”
- Connect with influencers
When it comes to marketing, hands down the most powerful thing you can do is work steadily and persistently to get the attention of influencers in your field. Bloggers, successful entrepreneurs, journalists. Study how to do it, and persist. Once you’re on their radar, you’ve made it. Check out this quick slide share of how 17 successful app entrepreneurs got their first 1,000 users. See how often getting influencer attention is in there!
- Blog , and use social media the right way
The story of your app development is fascinating, never think it less. Start a blog early, and have your blog be where the core of your story-telling happens, with all other social media linking to it. You can also use your blog as a great place to start building connections with influencers, by sharing their posts and talking about them, and guest posting too.
- Go through the finish line, not just to it
“The last 10% it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90%.” – Rob Kalin, Etsy founder
Everything takes much more time, money and energy than you expect. And it’s those last hiccups and holdups and mess-ups right when you’re close to the finish line that take out many entrepreneurs. Be prepared for this, and be prepared to keep on going full steam to the finish line, through it, and way beyond.
- Be prepared to fail
“Fail early, fail fast, fail often,” is an expression you hear very often in Silicon Valley, but not so much over this side of the pond. So if you’re British or European, make sure you’re one of the rare ones who genuinely appreciates and values failure. Don’t fear it – embrace it as part of the learning curve. Because failure is going to happen to you, and it’s the only real route to success. As CEO and founder of Dropbox Drew Houston puts it: “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”
Got any more essential tips for tech startups you’d like to share with the world?
Don’t be shy, comment below!