My path towards entrepreneurship has completely changed the way I view every company I know of.
At first, I really had no idea. I looked at what I could do and what I thought the world needed and simply tried to find a product to fill the gap. Now I’m halfway through an MBA, with years of actively studying many businesses under my belt.
The mountain of knowledge I’m yet to learn is still there waiting, but I’ve learned a few key things all entrepreneurs should probably know too.
The Two Approaches to Entrepreneurship
Most people in business look at what they can do and try to find a product they can make and sell that some people might want. This is the product-led approach.
Currently, many entrepreneurs recommend instead you carefully research a market segment you’re familiar with, then when you truly understand that market you build products you know they want and sell them to the customers. This is the marketing-led approach.
Clearly, the latter option is going to be easier in the long run, as you know the audience is there and it’s hungry for the product you have. Many online influencers use this approach, as they strive to understand the audience they have already built. Marketing-led businesses can research their market and build a sales funnel to partition their prospects according to specific market segmentation criteria and buyer readiness. Most importantly, these businesses can literally ask their ideal customers exactly what they want to buy.
Meanwhile, businesses using the product-led approach may work extremely hard to build a great product only later to have to work even harder to find a market that wants to buy it.
As an entrepreneur, do you want to always be searching for more customers for your product? Or do you want the hungry crowd waiting for you to serve them?
Defining and Tracking Your Goal Progress
A lot of companies I’ve worked with in the past never really defined what was important to them and how they would track this. As a business, the people at the top need to be able to see clearly when key figures are changing, so it follows that the business needs to set up permanent systems to track each of those key indicators and to give a comprehensive overview in a dashboard.
This should be automatically or routinely tracked by the people doing the work along with each task they complete. This shouldn’t be a one-off monthly gathering of figures by managers for their monthly meeting. The people at the top need to have an accurate view of the data every minute, so they always know what is changing.
The funny thing is, once you’ve thought about the process from the CEOs point of view, especially in a large company, this should be obvious. But to the many minions in desk jobs who are tracking the details of their customer calls, this isn’t so obvious. And when these employees who have never been a CEO before move to starting their own businesses, they don’t always see how they need that big picture. Companies grow from small to medium, and then to large, sometimes without ever realising this is something they need to do.
Thankfully, aside from a couple of big projects per quarter for key developments, most businesses are an act of balanced routines. Once you build systems to guide your core processes and track the results, including a dashboard for various time frames and key objectives, the act of checking the big picture, analysing results and adjusting course will be natural.
The Key to Getting Any Business Started Right
So, the two things that will help any business get off the ground are:
- To look at your target market first and build products you know they want.
- To track key things as they happen as a matter of routine, so your data is always current.
As long as you’re creating the right products and taking in the big picture by tracking the right things as they happen, you’ll be able to spot the changes and fix problems as they arise and you’ll always have customers.