Startup success stories can offer inspiration for entrepreneurs looking for some good news in the light of daunting statistics about new business ventures. These stories demonstrate how flexibility – and a willingness to pivot when market conditions demand it – are key elements for long-range startup success.
Here, for example, are three startup success stories from today's business landscape:
- MissNowMrs.com, an online name change service that provides and auto-populates forms for new brides (Social Security cards, U.S. passport, USPS form, etc.). In response to customer demand, the startup upgraded to a "premium package" where customers can have all their forms printed and mailed to them with pre-addressed envelopes.
- Battic Door Energy Conservation Products, a startup firm manufacturing and selling home energy conservation products. The business grew by adding online sales channels (eBay, Amazon, Sears, etc.) and also by adopting an "Influence the influencer" marketing program (exhibiting at industry trade shows and by direct mail) to drive awareness and traction for the business.
- OrthoNow, a network of specialized orthopedic urgent care centers. OrthoNow created a franchise business model to obtain funding and overcame a lack of brand awareness by leveraging sponsorships, awards, speaking engagements, and placing centers in high-traffic retail centers.
In each case, the startup responded to changes in its industry (and in customer preferences), and emerged successful. So how can new ventures ensure that their focus is on the right elements to promote long-term success?
Know your brand. Work hard at the outset to define the brand, both in your mind and how you want it perceived by the public. Will it be serious? Sophisticated? Out-of-the-box? From there, map these adjectives to all the different ways people will interact with your business, including the colors of your logo, tone of voice for marketing materials, etc.
Identify and thoroughly research your target audience. If there's a niche demand for your proposed new product or service, it's up to you to find it and comprehensively study the makeup of that specific target audience. This market analysis will prove extremely helpful if and when the time comes to refine your offering if there's a shift in audience needs and preferences.
Own your attitude. Working toward success with a startup isn't for the faint of heart. The attitudes of the founders listed above come through in their stories of meeting adversity, seizing opportunities, and proving resilient – personality traits that are essential for any thriving entrepreneur. Some doubts are inevitable along the way, but training yourself to accept rejection and push forward with renewed enthusiasm will bring you further along the path than a defeatist outlook.
Build a flexible funding strategy. It's unlikely that you'll receive funding just because you have a great idea. Chances are you'll have to be proactive and convince potential investors that there's a bright future behind your venture. This requires taking an imaginative approach to funding, bolstered by extensive research into who might be charged up by your startup pitch. Be prepared to establish relationships with the right angel investors and venture capitalists before trying the hard sell. Be prepared to explore a hot new funding lead if one emerges from your various contacts.
Finally, in your dealings with prospective investors, customers, and employees, treat everyone with respect and transparency. In the startup realm, no one succeeds on their own. They must rely on others for financial support and work together as a team to move a great idea into a genuine product or service. After that, they must provide outstanding customer service without exception. All of these efforts start with the recognition that building trust is a top priority in every startup founder's life and work.