Stories about the founding of any company begin with motivation. Whatever it was – an idea, an epiphany or the aftermath of a mistake – every business founder has a story about how and why they created a company, and that story inevitably includes the tribulations, milestones, pivots and hopefully successes that they faced along the way.
The question of how to ensure the success of a new company is one that we deal with daily in the tech world, and it is that knowledge that we try to glean from founders’ stories.
Although the story behind every company is unique, the businesses that make it by reaching goal milestones such as landing a big customer, becoming profitable or filing for an IPO all tend to have taken some similar pivotal steps.
For the best chances of successfully building a cloud-technology company, entrepreneurs and founders should consider the following:
1. Build a product.
It sounds obvious. When starting a cloud-technology company, focus on building the product – full stop. Product is 30 percent of the total work required long term, but often other priorities take early focus away from a product.
Once the product is solid, companies can shift their focus to the other 70 percent, which is sales, marketing, service and support.
2. Hire sales staff and engineers.
New companies need to hire salespeople for where they see their business in 12 to 18 months, not to meet their needs today, no matter what other pressures they may feel. Many companies stump their own growth potential because they hire for current needs, instead of hiring to the vision of the company they want to be.
Every company has dual identities – services and product. Successful companies clearly choose just one for their vision. That clear choice will define every decision you make moving forward.
4. Just start.
Tactics dictate strategy. Whether it’s product, sales, hiring, where to make headquarters, etc. – too many times, companies are held back by continually seeking better information. Companies should always gather the best information they can, but they need to value execution more than perfect information.
After companies begin to start and execute, it’s important to allow for fast failures. With failure comes the opportunity to make changes, and then (hopefully) win.
In my experience, it’s been very difficult to succeed in the cloud ecosystem when a company’s culture doesn’t recognise quick failure as its path to its eventual success.
6. Don’t compromise for one customer.
Early in the development of many companies, they often attract one marquee customer and collapse under the weight of trying to customise an offering to fit that customer’s specific needs.
Newer companies will fall in love with the idea of a certain customer and deviate from their focus and vision. It starts slow, but can grow into an issue that will eventually undermine overall success.
7. Hire customer-success people.
After the first or second year of success, many companies fall short because they have underinvested in customer success. Sales and customer success headcount should be hired and matched at a one-to-one ratio.
Great companies have hit big lows after a year or two because they continue to invest in sales without building a corresponding customer-success team.
8. Utilise technology partners.
There is a huge ecosystem of successful cloud-technology companies willing to create partnerships. If new companies don’t partner with established companies, they are missing out on opportunities to scale.
The vision for a company is probably amazing alone, but there are other companies out there ahead of them, doing something tangential to them, that can provide scale and attract customers that will help newer companies punch well above their weight class far sooner than they should or could on their own.
Passion and vision can provide the foundation for a great company, but it’s that passion and desire that can also lead companies down the wrong road. A successful business is built with careful investment in the future as well as a keen eye towards the failures and lessons that were learned in the past.
6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days
Jared Goetz spent only 30 minutes a day and built a colossal Shopify sales machine.
Jared Goetz, serial entrepreneur and member of The Oracles, always had a knack for reaching an audience. At 26 years old, he’s co-founded four multimillion-dollar companies.
Whether he’s throwing the world’s largest foam party with fire breathers and circus acts (“Electric Flurry”) or selling inflatables to college students via viral campaigns (“Dumbo Lounge Sacks”), this serial entrepreneur knows how to turn an audience into a profit machine.
His latest venture, The Gadget Snob, is no different. An ecommerce store that supplies everything from jet-flamed pencils to laser keyboards, Goetz took his business from zero to $2 million in 60 days by plugging into the right audience. That’s no small feat in a competitive industry forecast to surpass $4 trillion in sales by 2020.
Goetz’s secret sauce to reaching the masses? Experimentation. As he explains, “You don’t know what people will respond to until you try a lot of things. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.”
Goetz shares six key components to building his million-dollar ecommerce store and turning profits in less than a business quarter.
1. Don’t reinvent the merchandise wheel
“Many owners think they have to reinvent the wheel with the merchandise they sell,” Goetz explained. Instead, he suggests focusing on products with a proven track record of success. “An easy way to spot a market trend is gauging how a product performs on social media. If an item is getting 10,000 Facebook Likes in less than a few hours, that’s a tell.”
When choosing merchandise, it’s also crucial to differentiate between commoditised and unique products. Commoditised products are widely available. Unique products are less accessible handmade or niche products that aren’t mass produced.
“If you go niche, gauge demand first. Observe what people are looking for. You might be surprised to see what’s selling.”
2. Create a formula, then rewrite it
Ecommerce comes down to a formula, Goetz says, and the outcome is affected by different variables: Product, advertisement, landing page optimisation, and customer lifetime value.
“Once you figure out what produces the best margin, copy that. Most who fail in ecommerce are 90 percent there but haven’t worked out all the variables in their formula,” Goetz shares.
For Goetz, a pivotal variable was drop shipping. “I spent a lot of time bootstrapping my earlier companies. Drop shipping was a game-changer because it allowed me to advertise before securing the inventory, yielding greater outcomes.”
3. Build a legit Shopify store
A successful Shopify store must win confidence. “In the sometimes-fraudulent digital ecosystem, you have to earn a consumer’s trust,” Goetz says. “A money-back guarantee and free shipping guarantee are great places to start.”
Goetz also suggests choosing a theme that’s congruent with your industry. “With branding, you want to look professional, not spammy or creepy.” Gadgets are fun and technical, so his site has bright colours and precise language. “If I were running a men’s fashion store or toy store, I’d change my theme to match the merchandise and brand. Branding is key to converting customer views into sales.”
4. Find winning ads with huge ROI and scale
For Goetz, marketing comes down to one word: testing. “The only way to find out what works is to test it many times,” he says. “Test 10 audiences on each product, so you know where to invest your energy.” For The Gadget Snob, Goetz hired an ad manager to optimise Facebook campaigns. “When you strike gold with a successful ad, replicate it, but scale incrementally to ensure you’re staying targeted.” He suggests increasing ad spend 20 percent per day, not 500 percent.
When building campaigns, it’s also vital to use language that’s shareable and creative. Sales psychology is your friend. From his perspective, classic scarcity techniques have been around for centuries for a reason. “Try incorporating a quantity incentive: if you buy one, it’s full price; if you buy two, it’s 50 percent off and so forth.”
“Creating an email list is also vital. Email campaigns have a higher conversion rate than cold Facebook campaigns, and you can incentivise email campaigns with rewards. You can make money by merely pushing ‘send.’”
5. Hire a VA, then specialists
For Goetz, hiring a virtual assistant was essential to scaling. “At first, my VA helped with everything,” he says. Once his site got off the ground, Goetz hired people with specialised jobs for specific tasks.
He also stresses the importance of universal procedures. “Having clear onboarding processes and procedures is key to growth. Make your systems as easy as possible because while you might have 100 orders today, tomorrow you’ll have quadruple that.”
6. Get your customer support airtight
For a store to operate at full throttle, Goetz stresses the importance of customer support to maximise your profits. “You need your customer support to be airtight and available 24/7,” he says. “Online shopping goes all night and people place orders at all hours.”
To support questions and concerns, Goetz says that live chat and around-the-clock customer service is a must. “In our era of Amazon Prime, customer service expectations have never been higher, he says. “The last thing you want is a minute hiccup or technical goof obstructing a sale.”
Ultimately, ecommerce allows entrepreneurs to reach untapped markets and reap the rewards. As Goetz puts it: “My ecommerce site affords me ultimate freedom.” By following a few basic steps, you, too, can build a Shopify store to run from anywhere in the world, and perhaps even create your own million-dollar sales machine.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time
Find your perfect match for a successful part-time start-up.
Start your part-time business today
- Public Relations
- Freelance Photography
- Corporate Videos
- Small Business Advertising Agency
- Writing, Editing and Proofreading Services
- Internet Marketing Consultant
- Web Design
- Tax Accountant
- Business Consultant
- Business Plan Consultant
Launching a company – even if it’s operated part-time – is all about drawing on your skills, talents and interests to create a viable business. What you know and what you’re good at form a good basis for a part-time business because these companies either become an extension of what you enjoy doing most or they are based on your strengths.
Working part-time while still maintaining a permanent job is time consuming and often exhausting, so choosing what you take pleasure in or are good at can keep you focused and motivated. The right fit is important when it comes to launching a part-time business. Selling a service rather than a product does not require large start-up costs, which means you can grow your business without financing until it becomes self-sustaining.
Are you looking for a business that you can launch in next to no time?
Corporate Communications & Promotions
Corporate communications covers a host of areas, mainly because this is the sector that takes care of how companies look to the outside world – something that is very definitely a service, but also that is not often taken care of in-house.
If you can write, edit, have a knack for advertising, can take photographs or create promotional and corporate videos, you can offer your services part-time to companies both large and small that are in need of these services.
10 Business Ideas Ready To Launch!
Where do you find a good business idea? Right here. Here you’ll find several innovative business ideas that are ripe for plucking.
Where do you find a brilliant business idea?
It’s not as hard as it may seem at first. In fact, the idea is arguably not all that important. There’s a reason investors talk about backing the jockey and not the horse: It’s often not about the idea, but the execution.
A great entrepreneur can turn even a mediocre idea into a success; all that’s needed is a USP and great customer service.
That said, some ideas are undoubtedly better than others. And some businesses are easier to get off the ground. In the following pages you’ll find a curated list of business ideas that have reached a point where they’re just waiting to be exploited.
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