Lately, I have found myself wondering about the business of starting a business and wanted to share my learnings. Having been a part of two traditional startups and now being part of the Switch innovative strategy way of work I have come to realise where I went wrong and what I could have done better to ensure success.
We have all heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20. This saying sums up the way I feel when I look back at my past attempts at starting a business. In this blog post, I would like to share with you my experiences and then describe what I have come to understand to be the most logical way to start a business and solve challenges.
The ‘build it and they will come’ approach
For my first attempt at starting a business, I adopted this mindset. Was it successful? Sadly not. My business plan was based on my own assumptions of how call centres are being managed. My partner and I then started working.
After two years of development and making sure everything was perfect, a potential customer laid their eyes on the product for the first time. With very few sales, we realised that the product had a sense of redundancy. People had become used to the way their call centres was run and there was no need for our new way of doing things. Basically, we had baked bread for two years while nobody was hungry.
What have I learnt from my first attempt at starting a business? If we had utilised a lean start-up methodology approach we would have failed quickly and realised that the market did not need such a product.
The ‘I have a brilliant idea’ approach
When I attempted starting a business the second time the idea was to build an online education platform that provided financial life skills to students and graduates of vocational degrees. This business took a step in the right direction in keeping it simple, reducing costs and showing it to customers at an early stage. Where this business fell short, was that customer feedback was not taken into account. I thought I knew better.
From this attempt, I learnt that we should have done customer testing and not base the business on our own assumptions.
The logical approach
At Switch Innovation, we combine design thinking and lean startup methodology. Having had failed attempts at starting a business I can attest that this approach is a winner. Solving a problem form the inside out, listening to your customer, and constantly iterating is a winning recipe for success.
We co-create ideas with our customers and build products they need as opposed to concepts that we think will work. Gone are the days of traditional business plans and guesswork. By combining design thinking and lean startup methodologies, we know what works and what does not. It would be an absolute waste to not embrace this logical way when starting a business.