Success is only possible when you are unafraid of failure and build on a foundation of thoughtful consideration of risks and opportunities.
“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, Dropbox founder and CEO
Beyond that, passion is critical to driving innovation. However, before getting caught up in this whirlwind of creativity and over-excitement, it’s critical to take the time to evaluate your potentially-world-changing business idea from the ‘outside in’. Let me explain what I mean.
What the market will tell you, if you listen
The goal of any entrepreneur is to create something new and innovative, a venture that is exciting for employees, partners and, ultimately, customers to be a part of. But to have staying power, it must also be something that addresses real market demand. Even the greatest ideas are useless if nobody wants or needs them.
It’s important to ask: ‘Will this product or service solve an unserved or underserved market need?’ and ‘Are there enough customers who need it and are willing to pay for it to support the size of business I want to build?’ So, how do you find that out?
Connecting to customers
Once potential market demand has been identified, a critical but often overlooked step is to identify and connect with potential customers. It is important to understand the issues and challenges those prospects are facing, and how to alleviate them.
Going straight to the source by talking to people who understand the ‘pain’ is the most effective way to get a clear view of what is needed and how much it is worth to those who want your new ‘mousetrap’.
The value of focus and originality
It’s hard not to be enthralled by the latest and greatest entrepreneurial efforts, especially in the highly publicised technology industry. In the age of unicorns (and decahorns and even hectocorns), it’s easy to focus on what other successful companies are doing and assume you should just ‘copy’ their approach. H
owever, it’s critical to ensure that you and your team are focused on the unique things that your market and your potential customers need, so you can build a truly innovative solution that addresses the unique opportunity in your chosen market. And remember that fast growth and high valuations aren’t always a ticket to success – just ask some of the former unicorns that are now worried about becoming plough horses.
Prepare for success
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when approaching your business from the outside in is: it doesn’t stop once you’ve ‘made it’. In every stage of your business’ growth, it’s imperative to plan and execute with the market and your customers in mind, whether you’re making improvements to your existing business or working on new innovations.
At the end of the day, entrepreneurial ideas don’t exist in a vacuum, which is why taking an approach guided by both the market opportunity and customers’ needs is so important.
For any business venture to live long enough to see the light of day and hopefully last well into the afternoon, it must be not only interesting to the creators but also vetted by outside audiences. Entrepreneurs must take the time to get their ideas out of their minds, off of the drawing board and out into the world so they can see whether they will sink or swim.