Why You Don’t Need a Superhero For Your Startup to Succeed

Feb 3, 2012   //   by admin   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Being a startup business is tough. It’s hard to get every cog in the wheel working in unison. It’s hard to get the product right, to find customers, make sales and to earn profits. It really is. Do you need to have superhero talents to get it right? Absolutely not.

Superhero

Last week we started a three month training and mentoring programme for tourism startups on behalf of Wexford Local Development. There are twenty five businesses in the programme, all at different stages of development; from idea stage to product diversification stage, each one planning to make a success of their business. Over the next three months, we’ll publish a series of blogs covering the programme themes, including some posts from guest speakers.

Twenty Questions before I start

We started with, “Twenty Questions before I start”, which once answered, are effectively a business plan. The questions look simple, and in a sense they are.  The questions are a variation on the question:

Q:

 

How do you eat an elephant?

 

A:

 

One bite at a time

 

 “Twenty Questions before I start” is designed on the premise:

Q:

 

How do you build a strong business?

 

A:

 

One block at a time

 

  Put all the blocks together, and voilà, you have a business plan.

Top Three Questions

What business is right for me?
You have to love what you do to be able to put in the hours needed to build a business from scratch to sustainability to profit. You really do. But love is not enough! Sometimes a hobby or passion can be turned into a successful business, but of course being a good cook does not a chef make. (That’s why there are nineteen other questions in our start up questionnaire.)
Why will my business appeal to customers?
Are you filling a need, solving a problem, or providing a fantastic experience? If so, great. But why would a customer choose your business? What makes your business special? Marketing types call this a “USP”, (Unique Selling Point), and if you can’t identify this for your business, neither will your customers. You’ve got to move beyond “I’m just another B & B”. You are perhaps a B & B that provides the best breakfast EVER -  with locally sourced produce including your own home produced eggs, bread and yoghurt. It’s not just another B & B, it’s a B & B with a fantastic breakfast. You get the picture.
What is it exactly that I will be selling?
This is a question that many startups fail to address. They just focus on products that offer lots of features, but they don’t think about how useful all those features really are. They make their product and their pitch complicated, so no customer can identify what use the product is to them. This applies as much to tourism companies as it does to software companies or any other business. Define your product offering simply and clearly with the customer in mind.

We have 17 other questions, covering topics like business location, set up costs and finance. At the end of this course, we will be publishing a sample business plan, so you get to see how all the building blocks fit together to form one business plan .

What traits make an entrepreneur successful?

One of the most important traits for a successful entrepreneur is self awareness and the strength of character to know your own weaknesses. A strong leader will build a strong team as they go, and won’t even try to be a superhero. You really don’t need to be a superhero to succeed, you can employ, outsource, upskill or seek mentoring support to fill the knowledge and skills gaps as you go.
There are many studies and blog posts on this subject. The Harvard Business Review has a great post for start ups “Nine things Successful People Do Differently.” It’s a great read and doesn’t even come close to mentioning the need for a superhero!

Superhero? Nah. Mere mortals are best at business, especially when they work in teams.

What do you think is the most important ingredient for a startup to succeed? Please let us know in the comments below!

Thanks to @MiriamAhern, who brought the Harvard Business Review article to our attention on twitter.

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