As a creative agency we are approached by founders on a weekly basis with ambitions to grow their start-ups.
Often these early stage business owners are seasoned entrepreneurs who have built (and sometimes sold) multiple businesses before.
They usually have a clear idea of what they want to achieve – whether it is to carve out a slice in a crowded marketplace by offering a fresh take on an established model, or whether it is to create something entirely new in a niche sector.
Our role is to help them achieve their goals.
Often this means starting out by asking some obvious but important questions to define the customer value proposition.
Who are the target audiences? What are they seeking from you? How will you address their needs? How will you be different from what is already out there?
In the early days of many businesses the answers to these questions can be quite fuzzy and there will be many assumptions.
This is not only normal, but often desirable. In fact a red flag at this stage is cast iron certainty.
What separates a good business from a great one is a willingness to test assumptions systemically.
This is why experienced founders usually like to keep things as simple as possible.
Rather than invest heavily in an extensive brand identity, sprawling website, and a huge marketing campaign upfront, often it makes sense to develop only what is needed in order to gain feedback from the marketplace before scaling things up.
That first set of customers often provides unexpected insights that enable business owners to refine and improve their offering when change is still relatively cheap.
This is why almost every restaurant chain starts with just one outlet (unsuccessful single outlets, of course, do not expand into chains).
It is why even the iPhone launched with a limited feature set. There was no App Store (or even the ability to copy and paste).
Testing market feedback early and often means founders do not get stuck in “development hell” trying to perfect a product with only their gut instinct and the opinions of friends and family as their guide.
Getting the core offering in front of real paying customers is the only way to really know what people like and dislike. It is the only way to know if people will make a repeat purchase or recommendation – the two most essential things to growth.