Every year, millions of Startups are born and almost as many cease to exist. It won't be different in 2019, and the main challenge for every new business will be to stand out from the crowd. However, both those who are just starting and the ones that are looking for growth opportunities in this year will face the same unpleasant odds.
More than 90% of Startups fail (...) For the less than 10% of Startups that do succeed, most encounter several near death experiences along the way.
Startup Genome Report Extra on Premature Scaling
Those statistics may not seem encouraging at first, but they are actually good news. It means that only those who are really putting themselves into it succeed. That's a factor that can be controlled, and while there are no strict steps that'll guarantee success, there are a good amount of tips and tricks that will guide to the right path.
That's what this article is all about.
Standing out from the competition
The first and most important tip is no secret to anyone. Often it's undervalued, but understanding what must be achieved and writing down a set of goals is crucial. For founders of new Startups, this is the very beginning of the journey. Research, plan, set goals and take action.
Research & Plan
Launching a new business is never easy. It's possible to succeed in any industry, regardless of the competition, but it's just as easy to fail and get nothing good out of it. With this in mind, there are a set of variables that can be controlled, and the effort put in research is often rewarded.
A market research is one of the best places to start, allowing to find what are the less saturated segments to invest in.
According to Failory, Startups in the manufacturing, construction and information industries are more likely to fail than those in finance, insurance and real estate, for instance. This is just a quick research, which would point in the right direction, but only a thorough market analysis will move you closer to where you want to be.
Find out what users want
For ongoing businesses, it's not advisable to radically change in order to avoid competition. Startups that are looking for further growth this year should put their efforts in another factor that can be adjusted in the planning phase.
How your product is solving a problem for anyone.
People don't want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole."
Everyone has already read this quote at some point, but many still find it hard to focus on what really matters. Creating a product with multiple features and trying to address several problems is more a question of naivety than it is of ambition. It's better to start from a successful answer to a single relevant problem than trying upfront to target several problems without answering to any properly.
Even if Startups manage to stand out, CBInsights' report shows that they won't last long if they are not answering existing needs. The best way to stay ahead is to go through more research in order to understand what users want and which problems are not being properly addressed.
From focus groups to more structured processes, there are several ways of finding out how to meet users' needs and expectations, without putting too much effort in features that won't add any value to the product.
After concluding this step by identifying the needs that should be addressed, it's crucial to properly get the message across. Which leads us to the next phase.
Provide an exceptional user experience
User Experience (UX) is a common concept in product design and it concerns the emotions and perceptions that a user has while using a product. It covers the whole experience, from the first to the last usage, comprising all of its different elements.
In 2019, this is not a concept that can be ignored. If until here some could get away by providing a poor experience, we are now past those days, and good UX became as much a necessity as having a relevant product.
Users seek good experiences
It's a common issue to be addressing the right problems, but not being able to engage with users. Succeeding is not just a question of providing the right tools for the job, but also about making sure that users will know how to get the best out of them. Providing a pleasant experience is essential to get anyone to use the product for the first time, and to come back and use it again at a later stage.
For the user, it's not just about fulfilling a goal anymore. It's about experiencing positive emotions from simple aspects of product usage. Users want to improve themselves through good experiences, and that's an issue that new business ideas, given their often disruptive nature, must contemplate in order to succeed.
Both the product and its communication platforms - a website or an application, for instance - are also opportunities to improve. There are no small or unimportant details.
Is the functionality of every button intuitive? Is it easy to scan through it? Is all the important information above the fold? Does the content feel chunky? Are images well integrated with the text?
Overlooking details such as the one pictured above would drastically affect the way in which users interact with the product. That's exactly where most Startups loosen up a bit, looking down on UX, unaware of how much it will cost them further down the road when it gets harder to reach and retain users.
Take the best of the latest tech innovations
At the end of each year, everyone makes tech predictions for the future. While some of them are nothing more than wild guesses, others are supported by solid evidence, and represent a valuable opportunity for Startups to get ahead of the game.
Technologies such as blockchain or artificial intelligence are on the rise, and knowing how to take the best out of them at this point is an enormous advantage. Better than just understanding how they work is to anticipate how users will change their behaviors through the upcoming technology.
Below you'll find a wrap-up of those technologies, as well as some context regarding the opportunity that they represent for new businesses.
When we see blockchain, we immediately think about cryptocurrencies such as the Bitcoin. However, even if it the concept is directly linked to the rise of digital currencies, its possibilities go way beyond them.
Blockchain allows Bitcoin transactions to be safe and secure through blocks of information that are not stored in a single location, but through all the connected computers. Announced as an incorruptible system, it is now seen as a viable option for several other fields such as cybersecurity and the electoral system, just to name a couple.
There's a sea of opportunity here, as blockchain has the potential to change the way in which we do several online operations. However, it hasn't yet. A revolution is within sight and there's no better place to be than at the center of it.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a way of projecting computer-generated images to the real world, enhancing the user experience of any product or service. While Virtual Reality (VR) requires users to be immersed in a specific environment, AR allows to experience virtual elements as part of daily life in a less intrusive way.
While some businesses are already enjoying some of its perks, the full potential of AR is yet to be uncovered. We may not be far from futuristic motion-controlled digital floating menus, but even if we're not quite there yet, several other opportunities are already at reach. The possibility to project information in the real world through mobile devices can be game changing in the way in which users take the best of their applications.
5G is the next generation of mobile broadband, which will start being available in a few cities in 2019. There are a lot of technical details about the technology, but what matters to withhold here is its benefits.
Higher coverage and faster broadband internet connection, by itself, is a very welcomed change, but the opportunity lies in what it will enable in terms of web applications. Currently, there are still a few limitations regarding the amount of information and complexity that apps can provide, a consequence of the fragilities of a mobile connection when compared with fixed connections.
It won't just drastically improve the way in which users interact with mobile devices, but it will also enable to establish better connections between those same devices. Remotely controlled technology may experience a real revolution through 5G connections, and it would be a mistake to ignore its full potential that will be to experience in the next couple of years.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for some time now, but there's a reason why every year it's named a trending tech. The applications of AI are so diverse that several different fields are constantly being improved through it, and everyone is trying to get a piece of the action.
Getting to know AI is now a necessity for many different areas, and its importance goes beyond common uses such as chatbots or virtual assistants. It's, for instance, a powerful tool used to create user profiles by registing behaviors and patterns in order to provide taylor-made content for each individual user.
We're not yet at a point in which AI can rule entire operations, but automatization is taking over, and impressive uses are always being widely acknowledged. Betting on AI is both a way of investing in disruptive innovation and of taking part in one of the biggest technological trends in the last couple of decades.
Wrapping it up
It's not easy to launch a new business, but the real challenge consists in maintaining a Startup long enough in order to leave that label behind. This article highlights a few critical aspects that often get disregarded, which are mostly linked with the nature of business in itself and the way that users interact with it. These tips won't guarantee success by themselves, but will surely increase the chances.
Most of the examples displayed are directly linked to disruptive innovation, since that should be the core of a Startup business. Techonologies such as blockchain and augmented reality are still in a land grabbing phase, which means that there are yet a great deal of opportunities to claim and have the chance of becoming the next big thing.
What's more important than anything else, however, is to never lose sight of the goals that were established in the first place, and adapt when needed. Keeping track of the progress towards a defined objective is the best way to antecipate the obstacles that will inevitable come up further down the road.
2019 will be a more competitive year than any of the previous, and only by carefully planning the journey ahead will new Startups be able to beat the adversities. If just left to chance, the odds are not in your favor.