'A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed'
Over the last three years, I have experienced that success is not entitled. You get it through with extensive work and sacrifices. And, it isn't easy to survive without doing what you love. When you quit your job to become an entrepreneur, your days start getting intense, and you might lose your money (I did lose all the money), and yet no sign of success offing. You feel distressed, and doubt your ability as an entrepreneur, and all known negative emotions start creeping in.
Ideas are tempting, and it makes you believe that you can do all it takes to make a fortune out of it. Not always this case, though. Sometimes, it backfires, making you question your decision to work on this idea in the first place. When these thoughts breach into your consciousness, your startup begins to fall. The No-Matter-What entrepreneur is someone who understands this from the start and solves the problem in their expertise — in their niche. In my first startup, I made the same mistake of choosing the wrong niche by totally going into an unknown field. And before I could learn, I was broke.
In 2017, I was a great fitness enthusiast, which led me to launch my first startup in the nutrition industry. So, I partnered up with a friend to launch an application that can deliver healthy food online based on fitness goals, along with its nutrition information. It was still a new concept, then, in Ahmedabad so, we decided to try in the west part of the city. We got some initial customers, but soon it all started apart. We started losing our startup capital, so I started making food, and my co-founder was delivering it. But it couldn't be survived as none of us had prior experience in handling the cloud kitchen.
More on that, due to losing startup capital fast, we were unable to hire a professional to do the job. Only in hindsight, I realize that I didn't like the work I was doing. Cooking was not my thing, but with losing money, I had no option. I chose a niche, which was my hobby, not something, I love doing without getting tired. Hence, when things started to fall out, I took an easy way out to shut the operation down. If I had loved the niche, I would have figured out something, but because my mind was occupied with making the mistake of choosing the wrong field, cease possibilities of finding a solution.
What is your niche?
I realize what if I had chosen a niche that I love the most, and the skills I already had, then the story would have been different. But that's not how it's done. We all have to go through the process of learning before achieving something significant. We must trust the process. But, when life starts putting us through the process, we lose our sanity of realizing the more substantial outcome. I don't want you to make this mistake. Hence, you must answer this question, what is your niche? What are your skills? In which you can work tirelessly, even without getting paid.
When you consider your niche, your aim should not be just what you love, but what you love, that people need and are willing to pay for it. What if you love something, but people are not willing to pay for your skill, or there is no demand for it. Take your time on this part as making a mistake in this can cost you time and money in the future. Moreover, take the size of your niche into consideration so that you can scale your business fast, or can scale into the adjoint niche. For instance, your niche is to teach people to workout online. When you start getting success, you can expand to serve healthy food or sell health products. As an entrepreneur, you must see a broader picture of your business, but starting small. Jeff Bazos has started Amazon with selling books online, now selling everything. You can think of changing the world but start by changing a few people's lives a bit better.
Keep asking following questions until you find a perfect match that can give the best answer:
- What do I love? Or what are my skills?
- Is there any problem you think requires a solution?
- Will people pay for the solution?
The next step to determine is what pain points you want to solve in your niche. Your idea can fall into three categories: Create a new market, Solve an existing problem, or make existing products/services better.
Create a new market:
In other words, — to go from Zero To One. In his book Zero To One, Peter Thiel asserted, 'The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won't make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won't create a social network.' He explained that when we create something new, we go from Zero To One, and then we keep making further changes to go from 1 to n.
Creating a new market comes with extreme uncertainty and highly rewarding. When you create a new market, you create a monopoly. You don't have to think about competition, so you own the market, and set your own price.
Solve an existing problem:
Observe your niche closely. What are people complaining about? What problems are they facing? As an entrepreneur, we must recognize their itch and develop a solution accordingly.
Make existing products/services better:
When you're an expert in your niche, you know what problems people are facing with existing solutions in the market. So you can design your product revolves around solving those problems. You can find problems by reviewing what people are talking about. You can go to their App page on google play store, and read negative comments to figure out what solution can give to them.
Research, Research, and Research
Most of the time, the ideas we struct are already out there, making business, or someone has already tried it and failed. Your job is to dig out as much information as you can. A failed startup can teach you many essential things, which can help you improve or adjust your product. Ask your potential clients, do surveys, research your competitors, or cold calls, but learn about your idea. However, do not spend much time on it. Complete your research in a day or two, and start thinking about taking it to market asap.
Your big why?
Now you have the idea. It's time to work on it. Or, I'd rather say, hustle on it. In the beginning, your only purpose should be creating massive value for your audience. Don't start for money. Your purpose should be more meaningful than money. Money is the outcome of doing things. You and your company should work for the more significant cause, to help people live their life better, to make them happy, to ease their pain, to make this world a better, comfortable place.
As Petter Stordalen said, 'If you start with a calculator in your hand, you will go nowhere.' Your why your vision and your mission should revolve around people. When you start a company, you not only take your responsibility but many others who will work for you and your customers who deserve the best from you. If you start with money, you can't serve people well, because of your focus more on earning money. And in this process, you might compromise on the values you promised to your audience.
Execution is the king. You must have heard this umpteenth time because it's most valuable to any startup's success. One of the crucial habits, as an entrepreneur, you must cultivate is to execute the ideas. No-Matter-What entrepreneurs are great at executing. They fail, but they don't go back to their job. They hustle. They learn why things don't work. They change their ideas, if necessary, but they don't quit. They freelance their skill to earn some money to support themselves. But, they don't stop, no-matter-what!