Setting up a startup can be a daunting task. From coming up with a marketable and feasible idea to finding investors and then executing the concept, there are countless aspects which need taking care of. It requires tireless dedication, a will to work hard, and the capacity to take unexpected blows and disappointments.
But even after all this, even after doing everything right, there is no guarantee that you will be a success. Many factors can be responsible for that. Sometimes the time is just not right, sometimes the blame falls on the economy, sometimes your idea is just a little bit off, and sometimes, your idea is just too common.
Every year, many new startups emerge which are just copying each other, bringing few changes in an otherwise identical idea. They are called copy-cat startups, and the market is full of them. Making an impact in a crowded market space and reeling in new customers while holding on to old ones can be a challenging thing for new startups. The apparent reason behind that is the fact that there are already so many startups out there who are offering the same thing you are. And when there are so many players in the game, what makes your idea so special that the customers will be drawn towards you and your startup? What is your hook?
WHY SHOULD CUSTOMERS GO FOR YOU?
Penetrating the market entry barrier is one of the most typical tasks any startup has to do in its initial stages, and today, we will discuss how you can open up a successful startup and carve out an identity for yourself in a crowded industry.
Let’s get started then.
The first thing that you need to do while opening your startup is conducting a sound and extensive market research. Before you open up your shop, you need to be absolutely clear about a couple of things. The first one is your customer base. You need to be clear about the customers you wish to target. Not every solution can help every age, ethnic, and gender group. So your startup needs to aim at one particular customer group, and all your efforts should be focused on providing them the best service you can.
You also need to be aware of the market relevance of your idea. You need to be entirely sure that whether your customers want the solution you are providing or not.
ARE YOU RELEVANT?
You need to answer that question before you go looking for an investor. You can conduct face-to-face interviews with consumers and know their opinions on this matter. Furthermore, analytics reports and trend curves can be beneficial in devising a business plan as well.
Other than your customers, you also need to conduct in-depth research about the market and your potential competitors. When you step into a crowded industry, the first thing you should aim at is being different. You need to find out what your competitors are doing and then try to find ways in which you can perfect that and bring something new to the table. Always ask yourself-
WHY YOU AND NOT THEM?
Also, look out for any mistakes that they might have made in their business model so that you can avoid making them, too.
Trends are Friends
Trends run the world. It’s a fact which is not going to change no matter how much we want it to. Every few years, some new cultural or technological trend arises, and people are drawn towards it like moths to a flame. Some of the recent trends are the fitness trend, Instagram influencer trend, smartphone trend, AR-VR, and Blockchain technology trend, etc.
Companies nowadays are always under severe pressure of evolving with time and trend. Their customers expect them to be on top of each new trend and find new and innovative ways to use them in their offerings. If you hold out on chasing a trend, you will end up alienating yourself from the rest of the market because all your competitors understand that trends are their friends.
Also, once you have reeled in your customers, you need to find a way to hold on to them. If you don’t work according to trend and cannot make your customers happy, then they will find other startups you can.
Quality trumps Quantity
In the race to be the best, many startups unload a bunch of poorly-built solutions, just to remain in the spotlight. They are usually under the impression that as long as they have a wide array of products out in the market, they will be fine. Well, they are wrong. While it is essential to stay in the news and keep creating a buzz, it is equally important to keep the quality of your product up.
In the end, your customer is buying something from you. And when he is spending his hard-earned money on something, he expects it to be of top quality.
Mediocrity is not an option.
So if you compromise on the quality of your product, then you will lose your customers. Quality trumps quantity, always remember that.
Keep your customers happy
Once you have released a product, your real work begins. Customers, while being incredibly loving and adoring, can be downright cold, too. If a product which was at first accepted by them with open arms, fails to keep them intrigued, then they will abandon it and go looking for its substitute.
Customers will have reviews and suggestions for you. What they think is working about your product and what isn’t. And you can never turn a deaf ear towards them because their input is vital for your success. By taking customer inputs seriously, not only do you improve your product but keep your customers on your side, too.
Furthermore, keeping in touch with them directly is always a good idea. There are no walls nowadays between a business and consumers. They want to be able to reach you at all times, and you need to make that happen. Answering customer queries promptly, replying to them on social media and app stores are just a few of the ways of keeping your customers happy.
Cherish your customers.
Customers love to feel special. They like to be rewarded, surprised and feel wanted. Nowadays, people don’t want to just buy things from you. They need to know that you and they are on the same wavelength. They need to know that you care about the things they care about.
They don’t buy things; they buy brands.
So you need to make sure that you are maintaining a good public reputation for your brand because it is one of the key selling points for your startup.
Reward your customers’ loyalty. Give them free coupons, or send along a small gift to them with their orders. For example, if an app development company build you an app for your home food delivery startup, then you can send free breadsticks, a bottle of soda, an icecream pack or something like that to your loyal customers who frequently use your app. These small gestures will make your customers feel needed and more inclined towards staying loyal to you in a cluttered market space.
Put forward a human impression
While we are moving towards the complete digitization of the world, we still want to associate with companies which feel human. No one wants to deal with heartless corporates any more. People want to deal with brands with a heart and soul in them. It is not just about the business you see. Customers do not want to buy things from companies who seem too far off or too close-minded and formal for these times.
It is a generation which cares about things and to survive in it, you need to, too.
So make sure that your startup comes across as human as possible. Try not to send generic responses to your customers’ query emails. Don’t just promote your business to your customers via emails and text messages. Wish them on their birthdays and other special days as well. It is a statistical fact that users are drawn more towards companies which are human because they connect more with their humanity.
Furthermore, the inside of your company also matters to your customers. They need to know that your employees are not working in such deplorable conditions that they'd feel they were employed in a steel mill. They need to know that you value your employees and provide a good, culturally-rich working environment for them. So send along pictures of in-house parties and celebrations, corporate retreats and seminars. Show your customers that you care about your employees just as much as you care about your customers.
Markets are cluttered. Every year, new startups spring up and every year many disappear. Most of these new startups fail to impress because of sloppy the execution of their ideas. Then the investors pull out of their deals, and before you know it, you’re bankrupt, and your dream has now turned into a nightmare. Don’t let this happen to you. Follow the steps mentioned above and prepare your startup to leave its mark on the industry.
Walter G. is a software engineer with over 10 years of professional experience. When he isn't blogging or being a CTO he enjoys coding randomly complex things that he hopes many people will get a chance to use one day.