Imagine being a freshman — anywhere. Everyone is keen to snub you; because you’re new to the game and “know nothing”. You have to work twice as hard and thrice as much to prove yourself and ‘match up’.

When you’re a startup, you get almost that kind of treatment. Everyone knows the big guys in the industry but you. You have to make a name. You have to earn a reputation, then finally a status. You have to sell yourself. How do you get through this chocking part?

Figuring it out…

It was after 7 months of incorporation that we began settling on the services FINDSOLUTIONS Limited (FS) should provide. Of course I had a vision when starting FS, an exciting idea of what it should be; however, as you know, the devil is in the details. Determining what your company will make or provide can be easy and straightforward, but can also take as long as 7 months! It’s more about the figuring out than the duration of time.

The edge…

Starting a company has become much easier in many parts of the world, but most fail to start up; due to various reasons, two key reasons being competition and the ever-changing consumption trends.

The world is turning away from typical products to innovated products; generally, the market expects ‘something more' from a startup than what is already in the market. It doesn’t matter, for instance, that you can make watches; the market needs to know, what can your new watches do that the others cannot?

Product development — into the future…

The most challenging questions I’ve ever had to answer in pitching sessions are: “what do you do” and “how long do you intend to be in this industry?” Well, one could simply say they make mats and want to be in the industry for ever or as long as the business can last; I mean, why not?

But here’s the catch: ‘why are you making mats; after all, aren’t there many mat-making companies?’ ‘Will those mats be relevant 3 years to come?’

Your product development must address the questions, ‘what’s the difference’; ‘is the difference worth the preference’; and ‘is that difference the future of that product’?
  • The enterprise is in the difference; the difference satisfies a preference which arises from a certain need or want.
  • When you can determine the future of that product, you will have created for your company a place and a life in the future.
  • Even better, if you make a product that defines the future for that kind of product (for instance by tweaking the current form of the product), your company will become the god of that market. A quick example: Facebook became the god of social networking by becoming that network of people all over the world!

Research, innovate, and never stop…

Part of developing your product is constantly looking for ways to make it better, making it different, or turning to its alternatives, learning better ways to sell it…

Markets no longer allow companies to be static. Consider the leaps made by these 2:

  • Google / Alphabet. Google’s founders created Alphabet, a holding company, to form a group of companies under it. They made Google one of Alphabet’s subsidiaries. The other subsidiaries like Calico were created to find ‘the next big thing' in the science world. But Google was very successful, a multi-billion dollar corporate. Instead of sticking with it, they have diversified! They’re researching, hoping to create another big enterprise of science.
  • Nokia. It was the giant of the mobile phone industry — until smart phones happened! Before they knew it, their products became dead stock and succumbed to smart phones!
So, dear Startup CEO,
  • What do you do? What do you make?
  • How is what you do / make special?
  • Would you buy what you do / make? Why?
  • Would you still buy it 3 to 6 years to come? In its current form?
Remember this: A lasting company must seek to serve the future while serving the present better than everyone else!