In today’s fast-paced business world, there is much hype and excitement around becoming an entrepreneur and launching a start-up. We tend to glamourise entrepreneurship, believing that anyone can ‘make it’ if they just work hard enough. Yet this view doesn’t always reflect the gritty, day-to-day reality of being an entrepreneur.
Becoming an entrepreneur is a risky business. According to research conducted by CB Insights, 9 out of 10 start-ups fail. Almost half (43%) of the businesses analysed failed due to “No market need”, meaning adequate market research was probably not conducted. The second most common reason was “Ran out of cash” (29%), which suggests a lack of financial planning.
To make it as an entrepreneur, you need more than just an innovative idea and flashy technology. Many start-ups, incubators and accelerators fail to recognise the importance of a deep-dive approach in branding, marketing and getting the right business model right when taking innovations to market.
That’s why my technology launchpad, Gemstar, recently launched a Young Entrepreneurs Program in Singapore, which will guide budding ‘Young Gems’ through key brand-building, marketing and finance strategies to support the commercialisation of their product or technology in the region.
Here are my 4 top tips on how to elevate your business to the next level through a deep-dive approach to commercialisation and a marketing-led strategy.
4 top tips on how to elevate your business to the next level
1. Ensure your idea has a validated market fit
Many budding entrepreneurs get distracted by the glitz and glamour of business and prioritise the technology build over adequate market research. Yet if you don’t first identify a gap in the market, you may find that your idea has already been done.
To build an impactful business, you need to commercialise your ideas through a deep-dive approach. Strip back to the basics and ask yourself: where is the gap in the market? Who are the competitors and what is their model? Does my idea have merit in the market place? From here, you can form a robust marketing strategy and build a sustainable business from the ground up.
2. Ensure a sound business model from the start
All too often, start-ups don’t put adequate planning into the business model. They tend to focus purely on the technology build and their innovative idea rather than the business proposition behind it.
To create a sound business model, it’s important to ensure that you know your value proposition very clearly as well as your target audience. How you are going to sell and at what price point? Map out your competition and understand your differentiation against the competition, so you can build more value into your value proposition and pricing.
3. The brand is the business
Branding is the quality or essence that makes an organisation unique. It’s a set of perceptions and expectations about what an organisation stands for, who they are, and what they promise to deliver to their customers. The most successful brands are consistent and authentic, delivering on their promise time after time.
From the get-go, a strong brand strategy creates a competitive advantage and unlocks economic value. Design your business model with a marketing-led approach and a strong brand, and you will be better equipped to manage not only cash flow, but brand promotion and consumer metrics.
4. Build a story that’s relevant globally
To succeed in today’s globalised world, entrepreneurs need to have a global business perspective that’s grounded in an enticing, relevant and meaningful story. Many big corporations offer master classes for starting your own business, with workshops on building prototypes and technology platforms. Yet these programs rarely touch upon the importance of the ‘why’.
The ‘why’ is about cutting through the hype and buzz to get the heart of a brand. It’s about your higher purpose – why you exist, your brand essence and story. How did your business evolve? Your story needs to be communicated clearly and concisely across every channel, and be consistent with your brand strategy.
Becoming an entrepreneur may seem sexy and glamourous from a distance, but the reality is very different. Start-ups have a high risk of failure, so making it as an entrepreneur requires a long-term business strategy with the right market and commercial fit, brand strategy and story. There is an untapped opportunity regionally and globally to bring more start-ups forward through a true commercialisation and marketing-led approach.
This article was first published in The CEO Magazine.