2020 has seen more growth in the start-up market globally, than in the last decade.
This is not surprising given that we have been presented with new global, life threatening problems, that have fundamentally shifted the way in which we have been able to interact with the world, our colleagues, families, and friends.
We have seen significant advancements in Health Tech and Social Tech, as new start-ups emerged and small companies exploded into the main, as their niche or limited markets morphed into mass market. Obvious examples, include those such as Zoom and houseparty were far from new but took on a whole new customer base overnight.
Most of the innovations that we've seen have been driven by technology, as our expectation as consumers has accelerated our need for a digital response.
It has also been a year when many people have taken stock of their lives and maybe an idea they have sat on for many years, seemed like a great opportunity to explore when on furlough, or they finally had the time to spend on something they hadn’t considered before, or they have been triggered by some of the injustices or pains in the last 15 months.
Whether you have an idea to begin a new business or leading a small enterprise wanting to accelerate, there are number of things that any successful entrepreneur will need in place to turn that idea into a viable, thriving business.
Developing a CEO mindset is important – this will allow you to drive for exponential growth whilst allowing you the right level of freedom to think and develop the values, overarching purpose and head towards your vision from the outset. It's vital to prioritise your time and your needs, and to focus your energy on the important tasks and goals.
Establishing the right network is key- whether you are building your team, securing funds or gaining valuable business insight from business leaders and subject experts or getting your MVP into great shape with the right technology partner. Knowing who to trust and who to work with and creating a great web of support will be core to your success.
The good news is that the UK is the top three best places to be an entrepreneur and there are a plethora of investment and industry experts to call on, and here in the South West there is a real buzz and a thriving start-ups and scale-ups scene operating in Bath and Bristol. So you are never far away from building a good network.
You have the great idea.
Maybe you have worked in the sector for a couple of decades and always thought there was a better way to do things, or maybe a constant irritation in your personal life, led to hours spent designing a solution to the problem and you are now ready to make the jump.
But are you sure others will feel the same? And there is a market for your idea? A great question to really answer right from the start - is your idea solving a problem, or delivering a market need?
One of the things to keep in mind is that you might not have a unique business idea but your idea might be better that an existing one in the market. There are many examples of business who were not the first on the market but however now dominate a market, so do not be deterred.
Their success is usually because they have a greater understanding of their customer, and of their market, so they can create a better user experience, and more money and funding behind them to hit the market at the right time in the most optimised way.
Others have had a great idea but the world wasn't quite ready, so it takes a lot of courage to stick with what you believe in.
So if you want to compete with the big guys you need to prioritise research and testing.
You need to understand who your customer is.
And I mean really understand… Is your idea solving a problem? And delivering against a need they have?
This is where discovery comes in, and before you even begin to build anything. This means research and UX and that means establishing who your customer is and then finding out everything you can about them. Where they are, what they do, who they engage with, what other products they use. Find your demographic and start to run some focus groups pitching your idea.
If you can’t do this alone, then now is the time to get in the UX specialists… something we have many years of experience around as we have worked with some intriguing and complex businesses who have needed to get to the nub of challenges and how best to bring a new product or service to solve them.
For example, when we worked with The Great Western Credit Union (GWCU), we spent valuable time talking to many customers through research and testing groups - to hear their pain points, and what they needed for a better experience throughout the process of developing their new website and application. This enabled us to put the people who mattered at the centre of the technology solution from the start, which will always bring the best results.
You should start with a prototype based on your research.
Many great products and services began life with an initial version which ensures you can show and tell your intended audience your idea and how it might work.
It's important to act quickly upon what you learn from the feedback, be fearlessly creative and get out to test and learn further if needed!
When we work with start-ups we work to the following model: Research, prototype, test, learn, fail fast and then evolve.
If you have the tech, but don’t know how to get it into the right place for testing, or you have the idea but don’t have the tech skills to bring it alive, you need to engage with a tech partner with the right skills to be able to make that happen.
Let’s take Samten, a mindfulness start-up we are working in partnership with; they had a clear understanding of their service and their consumer but their existing app did not translate this knowledge and skill into a seamless user engaging experience, that they and their consumers needed. We translated their visionary ambition into a beautifully crafted application.
So let’s consider what ultimately makes a great idea into a great business – what makes your idea sticky.
- A great product or service, that genuinely solves a problem
- Clear understanding of your customer and market
- Great marketing
- The capital to pull it all together
Here at Digital Wonderlab we work with start ups with purpose, founders who want to make the world a better place and create lasting positive impact. We believe that our place is to mentor, challenge and nurture the start-ups we work with. We bring consulting and technology experience to take organisations to the next level, from single founders, to accelerating small businesses to the next level by increasing effectiveness and efficiency.
Just one example of many start-up partnerships we have been involved with is Stratigens - which is making headlines within the global business world as it helps deliver critical insights to leaders managing complex workforces and work places. It brings together 32,000 sources of data to help organisations to find the right talent in the right places to deliver their business goals and optimise their strategy.
We enjoy nothing more than working with people who have real compassion and drive to make their business better. We bring creativity and playful experimentation to the process and explore all options to solve your digital problems. We are a multi skilled agency, we deliver apps, web apps, websites, digital strategies and complete digital transformation programmes. We have great conversations with founders and give time to people that need it...a digital coffee costs nothing but can be the one thing that adds value.
So the one thing we would say is have many, many conversations with as many people as you can, find the partners, mentors, experts that will work best with you, who care as much as you do, but won’t be afraid to challenge you. Create your network and engage with the movement, so you have the best possible platform to build your successful business.